State of the Union

How Killing Libyans Became a Moral Imperative

“Who would be free themselves must strike the blow.”

So wrote the poet Byron, who would himself die just days after landing in Greece to join the war for independence from the Turks.

But in that time, Americans followed the dictum of Washington, Adams and Jefferson: Stay out of foreign wars.

America “goes not abroad in search of monsters to destroy. She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all. She is the champion and vindicator only of her own,” said John Quincy Adams in his oration of July 4, 1821.

When Greek patriots sought America’s assistance, Daniel Webster took up their cause but was admonished by John Randolph. Intervention would breach every “bulwark and barrier of the Constitution.”

“Let us say to those 7 million of Greeks: We defended ourselves when we were but 3 million, against a power in comparison to which the Turk is but as a lamb. Go and do thou likewise.”

When Hungarian hero Louis Kossuth came to request a U.S. fleet in the Mediterranean to keep the czar’s warships at bay, when Hungary sought to break free of the Habsburg Empire, Webster backed him.

But Henry Clay and John Calhoun stood against it. Read More…

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Who is Michele Bachmann?

CNN reported this morning that Rep. Michele Bachmann will form a presidential exploratory committee later this year.

In our latest issue, TAC contributor Sean Scallon explores Bachmann’s roots in the Midwest, including how she was once a Democrat disillusioned with Jimmy Carter and later became one of Francis Schaeffer’s pro-life foot soldiers. Scallon shows that the story of Bachmann’s rise parallels the decline of the GOP of Bob Dole and Gerald Ford in the heartland — and the rise of grassroots evangelical politics in its place.

Read More…

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Impeach Barack Obama

The time has come for those who claim high regard for the U.S. Constitution to show that they mean what they say.  The time has come to begin impeachment proceedings against President Barack H. Obama for high crimes and misdemeanors.

The United States has initiated a war against Libya, as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates has conceded.  When one country bombs another, which has not attacked it nor posed any immediate threat to it, that is an act of war.  No “humanitarian” rationale justifies such an act.  Only an act of Congress suffices according to the United States Constitution.  Barack Obama has violated that provision of the United States Constitution, which he swore, falsely it is now apparent, to defend and protect.  Barack Obama has committed this greatest of impeachable offenses.  Other offenses related to torture and violation of the civil liberties of U. S. citizens may emerge as articles of impeachment are drawn up.

Many Tea Party candidates and paleoconservative and libertarian Republicans, such as Rep. Ron Paul, won office by declaring their high regard for the Constitution.  Rep. Paul stated in advance of the attack on Libya that a Congressional declaration of war was necessary according to the provisions of the Constitution before an assault could proceed.  If these Republicans do not act now to begin impeachment following the lead of the very principled Dr. Paul, their words meant nothing, and they should be turned out of office. Read More…

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The Raj Is Still Falling

And that’s the real reason for the war in Libya — America and its European allies are desperate to seem and feel relevant while the centerpiece of their world order is collapsing all around them.

It may be going unnoticed that there is no shortage of Arab and Muslim allies of the anti-interventionist movement who are fully behind the operations in Libya, along with such respected left-of-center voices as Juan Cole and Philip Weiss.  Also worth noting in this connection is the prominent support for the intervention from Al Jazeera.  The errors of their ways are not the point, only that this bears acknowledgment.  For myself, I’d split the difference and say the ideal scenario would have been for the Egyptian military to enter Libya and take out Gaddafi as the Vietnamese did to remove Pol Pot.  But of course, this would mean that the Arabs would be masters of their own destiny, and that simply cannot be allowed. Read More…

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Do We Know Who the Libyan Rebels Are?

Laura Rozen at Yahoo News:

One view has it that the Libyan rebels are basically peaceful protesters who found their demonstrations against Gadhafi met with bullets and had no choice but to resort to violence.

“The protesters are nice, sincere people who want a better future for Libya,” Human Rights Watch Emergencies Director Peter Bouckaert told South Africa’s Business Day. …

Still, the rebels are largely unknown to the American government … “We don’t have the comfort level with the rebels,” said the National Security Network’s Joel Rubin, a former State Department official. “We certainly know some things about them, had meetings. It’s not as if there’s complete blindness. …”

Well, that’s reassuring! Rozen continues:

[T]he Libyan rebels seem to have found western consultants who have offered advice on reassuring buzzwords the West would like to hear. On Tuesday, the Interim National Council issued just such a soothing statement from their rebel stronghold of Benghazi.

“The Interim National Council is committed to the ultimate goal of the revolution which is to build a democratic civil state, based on the rule of law, respect for human rights including … equal rights and duties for all citizens, … equality between men and women,” the Council said in their statement.

Amazingly enough, as Eric Margolis reports, this struggle for democracy and women’s rights may, in fact, bear signs of a complicated tribal conflict:

Gadaffi still retains some support in western Libya and from important tribes. So welcome to a Libyan civil war. Shades of Afghanistan and Iraq, where the US intervened to support rebelling minorities and ended up stuck in the middle of maddeningly complex civil wars.

Little is known about the rag-tag Benghazi rebels, now adopted by the western powers. … It is possible that the Senoussi tribe will emerge from Benghazi’s chaos and reassert its historic overlordship of eastern Libya.  …

But what then? Are we to see a Libya riven by civil war? How long can a very expensive no-fly zone be maintained? Is the west ready to risk getting sucked into another conflict in the Muslim world? Are not Afghanistan, Iraq, Yemen, Somalia and Pakistan enough?

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Protocol of the Imperial State Visit

Nothing demonstrates the arrogance and tone-deafness that is part and parcel of United States foreign policy better than the state visit. Over the past several days, I have had to witness the President of the United States hemming and hawing over nonsensical explanations of what is going on in Libya. Nothing unusual there, except that he was doing it at press conferences during state visits to Chile and El Salvador while standing at a podium beside the heads of state of those two nations. Obama, in English, provided lengthy explanations of US policy to English speaking American reporters, reducing his hosts to little more than ventriloquist dummies standing by his side.  The behavior is insulting, to put it mildly, and the hosts must feel completely idiotic and irrelevant.

And it works the same way when a head of state visits Washington. The White House press conference inevitably turns into a discussion of current domestic issues that frequently have no relationship to the visitor’s country or to any actual policy issues relating to the visit.

It would seem that it would be relatively simple to insist at all these events that questions only be related to the visitor and his visit and that questions should be addressed, as a courtesy, to both heads of state. The State Department’s daily briefing can handle other urgent foreign policy issues to make sure the media is not starved of propaganda while the foreign visitor is in town.

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Intervention and the Neocon-Liberal Consensus

What’s the difference between liberal internationalists and neoconservatives? Not a lot, says Stephen Walt:

The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power — and especially its military power — can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America’s right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.

So if you’re baffled by how Mr. “Change You Can Believe In” morphed into Mr. “More of the Same,” you shouldn’t really be surprised. … Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn’t really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.

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State and National Republicans Are Not the Same

It is hard for me to stay neutral in the battle between Republican governors and public sector unions. This may be the boldest task that Republicans have shouldered in decades, and I can only hope they’re willing to see it through. At issue here are not only the financial crises of states that are running in the red.  It also remains to be seen whether we can avoid the fate of European countries, in which those living off taxes constitute more than fifty percent of the population. In Austria, most voters who show up for elections are public employees and retirees (dependent on payments from the state), and they are delighted to raise taxes for their own benefit. In France the attempt to cut the benefits of public employees recently resulted in strikes that crippled the country; and elsewhere in Europe misnamed public servants have rioted as well as engaged in strikes.

There is also an ideological factor that concerns me here. Public employees, including school teachers, hardly represent a cross-section of the country on social and cultural issues. They are well to the left of most of the population—and not only on economic policy. Groups like the National Educational Association take very definite stands on family issues, and one has to be naïve to think that union-faithful teachers favor educating the young in some value-free manner. They advocate social engineering in the classroom as well as preserving a tax monopoly on American education. Teachers’ unions are jerking around the public when they pretend that by yielding to their demands, we somehow raise the level of education. We do no such thing, as standardized test scores and what I’ve seen at the college level would suggest. Read More…

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A Foolish and Unconstitutional War

“The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

So said constitutional scholar and Senator Barack Obama in December 2007 — the same man who, this weekend, ordered U.S. air and missile strikes on Libya without any authorization from Congress.

Obama did win the support of Gabon in the Security Council, but failed with Germany. With a phone call to acquitted rapist Jacob Zuma, he got South Africa to sign on, but not Brazil, Russia, India or China. All four abstained.

This is not the world’s war. This is Obama’s war.

The U.S. Navy fired almost all the cruise missiles that hit Libya as the U.S. Air Force attacked with B-2 bombers, F-15s and F-16s.

“To be clear, this is a U.S.-led operation,” said Vice Adm. William Gortney.

“In wartime, truth is so precious that she should always be attended by a bodyguard of lies,” said Winston Churchill. Obama is a quick study.

In his Friday ultimatum, he said, “We are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal — specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya.”

Why, then, did we strike Tripoli and Moammar Gadhafi’s compound?  Read More…

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Obama’s Mushroom Cloud Legacy

Libyan mushroom cloud

For years, we have heard that Obama is different than other politicians – wiser, more compassionate, more prudent.


Blowing the hell out of Libya settles any doubts about whether Obama is simply another deluded ruler who will use power however he pleases to burnish his reputation.

Obama is simply a high-falutin’ version of George W. Bush. And any foreigner who is killed thanks to Obama’s orders is irrelevant, because the U.S. President was merely trying to do good.

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