We're Not at War in Libya

At least, we're not engaged in combat per se. Therefore, President Obama isn't responsible for violating the War Powers Act -- at least not anywhere close to the extent it's been violated by almost every modern president.

The United States in April pulled its cruise missiles and attack planes out of combat in the NATO-led Libyan mission, though it still has them on standby. It’s currently providing support such as aerial refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance, according to the AP.

The rest of this item at ProPublica is a must read.

If your definition of "hostilities" (a key word employed in the War Powers Act) is providing "refueling, surveillance and reconnaissance" to a perfectly legal NATO military operation, then okay. President Obama is all kinds of guilty. But since April, we haven't fired a shot. And April was still within the 60 day window before congressional approval was required.

  • mrbrink

    Only congress can declare war, avi.

    That excludes you.

  • Thank you for changing the comment levels, Ashby!!! YOU rock! πŸ™‚

  • Hellayeah, I’d rather the Feds intervene in FL than in Lybia….then again, I’ve had too much wine. Ask me tomorrow and you’ll get a more cogent, reasonable analysis. πŸ™‚

  • dildenusa

    Just in case anybody is interested, here is the breakdown of the votes.

  • Edited to remove a comment I thought better of (and no one had replied to or seemingly seen).

  • JMAshby

    I’d like to add that the U.S. arbitrarily withdrawing, especially by act of congress, its support from a NATO operation would set a very bad precedent and would call into question the foundation of the entire organization. Especially since we have been dragging NATO by the collar through Afghanistan for a decade.

    There would be an immediate vote of no-confidence on the organization and NATO support in Afghanistan would evaporate.

    I’d say that’s the reason Congress will not, in the end, defund it or otherwise legislate against it. They know the consequences. In the meanwhile though, they can grand-stand and bark.

    You can call it whatever you want. I don’t care personally. It doesn’t change anything whether you call it “war” or “flag football.”

    • Ashby, I agree with your practical point that it makes not one whit of difference. However I think the esoteric point has to be VERY important in a situation where lives are at stake and when our government gets to make that decision.

      And I would go a step further than Avi has in this conversation and say that when we intervene in situations ostensibly to protect people from their own government, regardless of whether we call it war or flag football, we should be consistent about it. It urks me to no end that we aren’t going into Syria. Why not? If protecting nascent democratic movements being assaulted by evil totalitarian regimes, why aren’t we in Syria? I would say fine, if we’re going to commit to supporting movements like this, then go in everywhere its happening. And if you’re not willing to go in everywhere, find another way, preferably a less militaristic way. But let’s not cloak ourselves as saviors and boldly save some people while others in other nations (i.e., ones without oil) are butchered.

      Ultimately my point is let’s be honest with ourselves if no one else. We are engaged in a war in Libya. If we are going to be consistent about it, we should probably be engaged in similar activities in Syria, Iran and a whole bunch of other places. But don’t call it “non-war” and don’t pretend that we’re being noble. When we act like this, we’re no better than the GOP.

      • JMAshby

        Foreign policy is a complicated business. The fact is you can’t treat every country exactly the same way because no two are the same politically, militarily, or geographically.

        The notion that we should apply the same blanket strategy to every situation simply doesn’t jive with reality and such a strategy would leave us with even fewer options for dealing with the complexities of the world.

        And the answer for why we’re supporting NATO operations in Libya and not Syria should be obvious. Intervening in Libya doesn’t carry the risk of igniting an entire regional war. NATO also has no strategic interests in Syria.

        Nothing is simple.

        • ranger11

          I’m still trying to figure out why I should lose my shit over Libya with an economy and unemployment situation being what it is. Also living in a state with Rick Scott being my governor. Can Obama intervene in Florida?

          • JMAshby

            It’s equally perplexing to me.

          • Yeah, I hear ya. I wish the Feds could intervene in Michigan. After all, we’ve become Somalia. πŸ™

        • I agree and I completely understand that nothing is that simple. However, how does it play with the average Muslim. There are 1.6 billion muslims in a world population of 6 billion, approximately. The sons and daughters of those 1.6 billion are the ones feeding jihad and Al Queda. So go ahead and rescue Lybia but not Syria and see how it plays with those Muslims. They’ll see the truth of it and theywill send their children to bomb us andharass us to oblivion.

          They’ll see why we intervened in Lybia (oil and no effect on Israel) versus Syria and they’ll curse us. Why the fuck does Israel matter. Yes they’re an ally but even at the expense of our own long term survival? Fuck, why can’t anyone see tha by cleaving to Israel, no matter what, we are screwing ourselves with a huge portion of the planet’s population. I’m not saying abandon Israel,but get some fucking balance and stop licking their balls for crying out loud.

          Because that’s what this is about. It is about our interests. Our allies/enemies and the resources they may or may not hve. We help nations that have oil, that aren’t too black and who don’t threaten/keep the balancewith Israel. Right? That’s what you’re really saying about Lybia v. Syria, correct? I wonder when Israel became our holy grail and why? Because of Christianist bullshit. And the worst of it is, even pogressive Liberals in the U.S. have bought into it. Either help everyone or help no one. Either go to war for real, or don’t fucking bother.

          Help whether they’re black and rich, or Jewish and poor….it shouldn’t fucking matter. That’s the real scalewe’re being judged on by the entire planet. But the game that we’re playing is standard foreign policy of who has what we need and what can we do to get it. The rest of the world knows this and they despise us for it. They expect more from us. So we either own up to being craven like the rest of the countries on the planet or we stand up for our ideals. We can’t have it both ways….we never could.

          Sometimes, parsing legalities and the definition of “is” is simply that, rhetorial parsing. Nothing more, nothing less.

          • Libya. Like Luvya…but not quite as endearing.

            Lib Ya.


          • I write a cogent argument in suport of you Avi after an entire bottle of wine, and that’s what I get? πŸ˜‰

    • Suggest the comment section be altered to contain replies only three levels deep – avoid the ultra skinny extended replies. It’s an option on WordPress I have with the free version…MUST be available through Disqus.

      • I heartily co-sign, damn it!! I HATE those long, skinny replies.
        Also, it makes it harder to track new comments.

        3 levels deep, PLEASE, Bob and Ashby!!

        • The_Dork_Knight


        • JMAshby


  • mrbrink

    And avi, if you were holed up in your house, a house with a very large family you seized by force, and you were telling the world you were going to kill them all once they started getting uppity, and you actually began killing, I would hope someone would intervene without thinking first about whether they’re going to call it “war,” or an international humanitarian intervention.

    “I believe it’s more of a kickin’ sitcheyation.”

    • As a matter of principle, I support the use of force for humanitarian purposes. I wanted intervention in the Balkans. I would have liked to have seen it in E. Timor. I would have liked to see it in Darfur, and the Sudan, and Rwanda, and Syria. America’s schizophrenic behaviour when it comes to intervention for “humanitarian” reasons, when examined with anything remotely approaching honesty, puts the lie to any claim that it employs military power to protect protesters or further the cause of democracy. America acts, or fails to act, in support of the some of the most oppressive totalitarian bastards and tyrants that have ever existed – Suharto, the Duvaliers, Mubarek, the Saudi Royal family…
      All of that is an argument for another time.

      The only point I make (aside from explaining simple Latin terms to an alleged professor of Latin) is that having an argument about whether the action in Libya technically amounts to war is just some stupid bit of beltway cocktail party blather I might expect from David Brooks and an utter waste of time.
      Bombs are being dropped from planes on people who are shooting at one another. If that doesn’t amount to war, we need a new dictionary.
      What’s next?… people aren’t necessarily being “killed”, they’re merely experiencing “severe bodily disintegrity.”

      The argument is one of remoteness: America is too far down the chain of causation to be said to be “at war”. They’re not dropping the bombs, merely supplying them, targeting them, and putting fuel in the planes.
      Whether the intervention is morally right or wrong has nothing to do with it. Whether or not the president has the authority to do what he has done, especially in the wake of the Bush administration, is an argument that could only be raised by Republicans (who would find something to argue about even if all that were dropped from those planes were MREs and medical supplies).
      Nevertheless, in spite of plain facts – call it “a healthy obsession with empirical reality!” – people are swinging a particularly repellant dead cat by a long tail: “We are not at war in Libya.”
      Yes, we are. It’s simply a matter of calling it what it is. Word games such as that should embarrass anyone powerful enough to intervene.

      • mrbrink

        Calling this “War” is just hyperbole and fails legal actuality.

        This is Humanitarian intervention– a legal term used for specific purposes by the UN Charter to which we are signatories.

        We’re walking a fine line between “war” and “humanitarian intervention,” sure, but you’re assigning some over-sized boots for the skeptical march.

        And if we’re talking about the law, more specifically international law and constitutional law absorbing treaties and accords, which we are, I thought– although I did, for the sake of posterity make a moral case as an aside– but this is no more a “war” than the war on drugs, or war on terrorism.

        “War” is distinct and blunt.

        Humanitarian intervention is purposeful, but nuanced, which in this instance, is multilateral and legally authorized with consensus.

        There’s a pretty big philosophical, if not legal difference, between “war” and “humanitarian intervention,” but a fine line nevertheless.

        What you’re suggesting, albeit perhaps indirectly, is a unilateral act of a unitary executive who is, by virtue of your phrasing, guilty of an impeachable offense, here.

        Therefore I humbly disagree with your determined choice of phraseology.

        We intervene when we can. We make war when we have to.

        But you’re still not observing or acknowledging the uniqueness of the situation, though, as indicated by your lump sum recurring references to previous interventions and our historically questionable selectivity and shady pretexts, as well as your view that we have been unsatisfactory in results, which I will stipulate, but in your own special way, you’ve adopted the libertarian view of isolationism and rhetoric of “undeclared ‘wars'” and should just start calling for our withdrawal from the UN and NATO, too.

        Our membership in NATO and the UN– treaties and accords– are “supreme law of the land,” but like the WPR, this is how congress deflects constitutional responsibility and defers instead to the Commander In Chief in times of emergency, international and domestic.

        Words matter. Intent matters. And if you’re willing to submit that this particular humanitarian intervention means we’re at “war,” and you’re not satisfied with our history of selectivity, what you’re suggesting is we should make war instead of intervention because calling it intervention, or humanitarian intervention, is weak and dishonest, but if we’re leaving it up to you, intervening means making war in Russia and China if we have to.

        Our capabilities are a little more prohibitive than that.

        • There’s nothing hyperbolic about it. Libya is in the midst of a civil war, and the west – the US, Britain and France – are intervening in that war.
          I don’t see anything particularly useful about the term “humanitarian intervention” in the case of Libya.
          Those words have been used to justify atrocity after atrocity. The Japanese claimed humanitarian justification for rampaging across China; Hitler called his invasion of Czechoslovakia and Poland humanitarian actions. The history of America in either acting for those same stated reasons, or failing to act when action was well and truly required; in the places and circumstances where both sorts of decisions were taken, renders the phrase more than a little sour.
          For that matter, given the history of American intervention in the Middle East, one might well conclude that of all the nations on earth, the USA has the LEAST moral authority to have anything whatsoever to say about it.

          We intervene when we can.

          No, we don’t. We intervene when some overarching foreign policy concern is in play, and humanitarian concerns have demonstrably almost nothing to do with it except as a matter of trumpeting the power of the American propaganda machine.

          I have not touched upon whether this is a unilateral act on the part of the POTUS, or whether such action rises to the level of an impeachable offense.
          Clearly, in matters of dire emergency, the POTUS has the authority to act immediately. Whether or not he should have done so in this case is another debate.
          In any event, I am not advocating withdrawal from the UN or NATO, and distilling that assertion from anything I’ve posted here requires rather a long and tedious stretch.
          Neither am I interested in arguing over the statutory requirement to seek Congressional approval, or whether Congress should or would grant or deny said approval.

          My objection, in my first post – and all responses to the misguided reactions that comment drew from people too wrapped up in the Sunday Morning Bobblehead question, “Is this good or bad for Obama?” – is very simple: Making the argument that America is free to continue doing what it is doing, rightly or wrongly from a moral / foreign policy / legal perspective, because it TECHNICALLY isn’t “War” is so utterly disingenuous it ought to embarrass anyone who makes it.
          There’s nothing nuanced about dropping bombs on people.

          The various forms of slippery slopes you force upon me are unhelpful.
          Certainly there are circumstances – many of them and all over the globe – where some form of military intervention to prevent mass slaughter would be both proper and just. It just doesn’t happen and casting this particular intervention as an example of same is, in my opinion, more a function of propaganda covering a long history of support for Qaddafi, and a desire to ensure that a cooperative regime will replace him IF he must go, than it is about any real desire to save lives or promote “Freedom and democracy”.

          • mrbrink

            “Those words have been used to justify atrocity after atrocity(humanitarian intervention).”

            That’s irrelevant to our situation in Libya.

            Your caution is certainly noted, but irrelevant to the discussion, really, inserted for no other reason than to diminish humanitarian intervention in order to elbow “war” into some sort of dominating posture and prevailing narrative of typical indiscriminate U.S. warmongering and insinuating I’m resorting to NAZI propaganda to justify a UN humanitarian intervention in Libya is just absurd.

            It’d be more accurate to call it “UN propaganda” and I’m pretty sure we’ve tossed reason aside if we’re accusing the UN of utilizing heinous and dishonorable propaganda at this time.

            Your introduction of America’s questionable record of intervention only means something if you’re trying to discredit the legitimacy of Libyan intervention. See paragraph above.

            “TECHNICALLY isn’t “War” is so utterly disingenuous it ought to embarrass anyone who makes it.”

            You’re essentially bullying and deriding the phrase military intervention, or humanitarian intervention out of the English language(even though you support humanitarian interventions seasoned to taste…?) by adopting the libertarian position that all intervention means war and should be declared by congress or not at all.

            Calling this war is basically the libertarian argument used to promote isolationism and indifference– See China and Russia.

            If you want to dumb down a complicated situation, that’s your choice. But projecting historical guilt for questionable-interventions-past onto this president is a stretch too far for me.

            There’s nothing nuanced about dropping bombs on people.

            There’s nothing nuanced about that statement and nuance is called for.

            Obama’s making some difficult decisions in the burdensome shadow of unscrupulous characters of American history, but if this were a republican president, we would, without question, be bombing Iran instead, while funneling arms to Qadhafi.

            We’ve earned a bad reputation because we keep letting our asshole leaders dumb us down.

            But this is Arab Spring and it’s without precedent.

            I believe we’re on the right side of history.

            Don’t dumb it down, huh?

          • I wonder if you aren’t more committed to defending Obama than you are to the idea of humanitarian intervention, but I’m willing accept that’s not the case.

            I need not “elbow” the term WAR into anything. Libya is engaged in a civil war – the government is shooting citizens; the citizens are shooting government troops. The west, in the coalition of America, Britain and France, are dropping bombs on government military positions AND civilians. This is, by any reasonable definition, a war…and we are in it.

            I’m not trying to discredit the intervention in Libya. I simply ask why Libya and not any of the other places throughout the Middle East where lovers of Freedom and Democracy rose up only to be violently crushed? The claim that THIS is necessary “for humanitarian reasons” just doesn’t hold up on even a cursory examination. The goal here WAS to maintain Qaddafi…and once that became impossible, to ensure a cooperative regime replaces him. Civilians will die. That’s what they do in such situations. The claim that this is being done to save lives only goes as far as ensuring a suitable outcome permits.

            I’m not dismissing the idea or the term “humanitarian intervention”. I’m simply saying that it seems an odd coincidence that it never happens in places like E. Timor or Sudan…always in places with lots of oil or some other overarching matter of importance. It never happens in Bahrain, where they let their good friends the Saudis crush the ever loving hell out of those freedom seeking citizens.

            I don’t disagree that a Republican president would have chosen a different course, and in all likelihood one much more damaging to both those on the receiving end and anything that could be called long term American foreign policy interests. However, such speculation does not get you (or me) out of the point of this discussion.
            You keep coming back to some sort of justification for THIS intervention, constructed solely on a full acceptance that it is being done strictly for humanitarian ends.
            I don’t buy the stated ends, and I again assert that the MEANS fully, clearly and undeniably amount to war. It’s NOT a matter that ANY intervention must equal war – it is simply that THIS intervention does – plainly and without serious argument – and I don’t consider that to be in any way a controversial or debatable claim.

            I’m not putting the long, long list of historical failures to intervene, OR the interventions that were only called interventions to cover up some truly reprehensible shit, on this president.
            As I have said before…whether Obama is sincere or not, overreaching his constitutional authority or not, or in his heart of hearts morally right or not are simply not questions that concern me insofar as this thread is concerned.

            I AM saying that, given America’s long history of cocking things up in the Middle East; of intervening in places and for reasons that had NOTHING to do with promoting freedom or democracy or saving lives but rather, only and plainly about advancing American foreign policy interests, that even if this were a purely humanitarian effort (a proposition I do not accept), America has put itself in a position where it has no damn business leaving the porch.

            My point is simply this: On its face…given what is happening on the ground in Libya…to call this anything other than a war in which America is plainly involved, is to twist language in precisely the same ways we steadfastly objected when it was done by Rumsfeld, Cheney, Woo, Libby, Rove, et al.
            This is war.
            All of the other arguments are just that – other arguments.

            (If you reply, let’s start a new window…this one grows too skinny.)

      • The_Dork_Knight

        Wait… following Desert Storm 1 the war ended, and a no fly zone was set up ( along with the military capability to enforce that no fly zone). Were we still at war? Does any use of military equipment and or resources abroad constitute warfare?

        • As I’ve said previously, it is a simple matter to propose an almost infinite list of hypothetical situations that make answering the question, “Does THIS constitute war?” a much more difficult matter than in the case of Libya, which is clearly, unquestionably a war.

          It is not helpful or illuminating to ask, “Does any use of military resources abroad constitute war?”
          Of course not, and I’m absolutely certain I have not suggested that it does.

          I’m not sure what you think there is to be gained from arguing over the fine grey shades between “war” and “not war”. We are talking about Libya and what is happening there right now. It is a civil war. The people are shooting and bombing the government forces; the government forces are shooting and bombing the people. The west has intervened, and as a triumverate coalition, is engaged in bombing the military positions of Qaddafi’s forces.
          Is the US involved in a war in Libya? It is just not problematic at all to answer that: Yes.

  • mrbrink

    The UN Security Council, NATO, and the Arab League all signed off on a no-fly zone to protect the civilian population.

    So, to do that, the international community, including us, have to effectively take out Gaddafi’s anti-aircraft hardware(surface to air missiles)and render his air force capabilities(100 MiG-21 and MiG-23 fighter jets, 15 Mirage F-1, 40 SU-22 planes, Russian Mi-25 attack helicopters, and 18,000 loyal men and women fighting for Gaddafi)and all related infrastructure(arms, munitions depots, 13 scattered airbases)and if necessary– Col. Coup-coup for Cocoa Puffs! himself.

    For everyone disputing intervention in Libya, this really has become more about the process, rather than substance. And the dispute is based more heavily on opinion, than an accurate translation of the law simply because the War Powers Act was designed to be vague.

    China and Russia abstained, and that’s because China and Russia see The Col. as a business partner and they couldn’t care less if Gaddafi is killing his own people with Russian weapons, or selling their oil to China. It’s easier to do business with a single strongman than a democratic quorum.

    But this operation tells both Russia and China that the international community is seeing to it that the lives of the Libyan people and their resources will not be decided by authoritarian means. Their lives and resources will be decided democratically.

    Take Sudan. China is heavily invested in seeing to it that the north conquers the south because that’s where all the oil is. The north has all the refining capacity because China paid for it, but the south has all the oil– and people who have declared their independence. China is funding genocide in Sudan.

    And China would be happy to help Gaddafi harvest that oil, and Russia would be happy to continue to supply the tools for suppression.

    Protecting Libya for even a smidgen of honest democracy, in our limited capacity, is the right thing to do. This is geo-political chess and it may seem like sophistry to some people with a political ax to grind, or who may be lacking functional information, but the substance of what is taking place is something to consider a little more deeply than an argument over what constitutes “hostilities.”

    This isn’t Reagan running guns and strangling democracy in Central America, and it isn’t Dick Cheney and George W. Bush procuring Saddam’s spiderhole pistol while underwriting the Iraqi constitution for big oil.

    I’m not trying to predict the future, but this president has given me very little reason to doubt his loyalty to the constitution, the American people, or his faith in democracy. I trust his judgement. I’ve seen the lying conspiring face of fascism, and this ain’t it.

    • I’m not trying to predict the future, but this president has given me very little reason to doubt his loyalty to the constitution, the American people, or his faith in democracy. I trust his judgement. I’ve seen the lying conspiring face of fascism, and this ain’t it.

      Couldn’t agree more.

    • No one is saying it’s fascism, Brink.

      Jumped up freakin’ Christ on a salted cracker!
      The TITLE of this post, for what feels like the infinith time, is We Are Not At War In Libya

      All I said was that that’s a stupid, disingenuous, wrongheaded, dangerous, factually inaccurate argument.
      The USA is at WAR in Libya. It is supporting and enabling the prosecution of clearly hostile actions. We know they are hostile because they kill people. Having a roundly stupid argument about whether or not those actions amount to hostilities pursuant to the WPR both legitimizes the GOP’s tactics in slapping at the president AND flies in the face of reality.

      It doesn’t have to be Iraq and bullshit lies about 9/11 and WMD to be war.
      It doesn’t have to be Iran-Contra.
      It just has to be war…and it IS war. If we’ve reached the point where THIS is even a remotely legitimate debate, we’re so far down the fucking rabbit hole that there’s no point in having ANY discussion.

      Let’s at least start by calling it what it IS. Vietnam was not a fucking “Police Action”, and this situation may well be with the support and approval of NATO and the UN and Palau and Aunt Goddamn Jemimah…it’s war.
      Perhaps there’s good reason for it, perhaps there isn’t. Quite honestly, I don’t much care whether Khadaffi stays or goes. I simply and sincerely object to the bullshit argument that what’s going on in Libya is not “technically war.”

      And @ Clancy: I haven’t considered whether such a thing – saving you from your own stupidity – is even possible, but you can take this to the bank: If it were possible, I wouldn’t lift a finger.

      • The_Dork_Knight

        Wow. I’ve never seen you like this. Time to lay off the sauce amigo.

        • mrbrink

          Don’t disrespect cousinavi like that, please.

          He’s one of the smartest people I’ve never met.

          • The_Dork_Knight

            I wasn’t questioning Avi’s intelligence. I was remarking upon an unusual amount of aggression and hostility from him. Not his typical behavior is all.

          • mrbrink

            Ha ha.

            Don’t kid yourself.

            I think it takes real guts to say what he’s saying, and couple that with his unique ability to say it with such sincerity, passion, color, and directness is something I would never want to mock or silence.

            Don’t let your feelings get in the way of a rebuttal from cousinavi.

            Take it like family and break bread, brother.

          • The_Dork_Knight

            Once again Sir, you leave me confused. Confused in a Cletus the Slack-Jawed Yokel kind of way.

          • ranger11

            I just don’t understand why dude’s so angry. Whatever….carry on anti-war dudes!

          • He isn’t anti-war. You and one or two others have misunderstood his position.

      • mrbrink

        “No one is saying it’s fascism, Brink.”

        I’m just suggesting you reconsider Libya on a case-by-case basis, on its own merits in recognition of international obligations and constraints, rather than declaring it, “WAR! what is it good for?”

    • Scopedog

      Good points., Brink.

    • Brink, I hear what you’re saying and I agree with you that Pres. O is trustworthy, but the next occupant, like the last occupant, of the oval office may not be so trustworthy and THAT is the whole point of the War Powers Act (not to mention the balancing act of the three branches).

      Avi, regardless of how vitriolic he expresses himself, is right. Either say damn right its war and go through Congress or don’t do it at all. That’s the way it is supposed to work. And I would want it to work that way no matter who is in office.

  • Avi, Bob did qualify his statements with a couple of “at least”s, in recognition of the fact that while it may technically be war, and therefore a violation of the War Powers Act, it is not the kind of massive violation that Cons are screaming about.

    Just sayin’….

    • Massive violation? Minor violation?
      Don’t have the debate.
      Either SAY, “Yes, we’re at war” and turn it over to Congress for approval, or get out.
      Having the argument about what constitutes hostilities under the WPR is playing into the GOP’s hand.
      It’s not the blowjob – it’s lying about the blowjob.

      • I know, but, what to do when Congress is so fucked up?

        John Cole(HT i_a_c)

        You want to know why the Presidency keeps getting more and more powerful? Because someone has to make decisions.

        The House just voted against authorizing the Libya mission, then voted against defunding operations in Libya. I’d ignore those idiots, too. If I were President, until these clowns get their shit together, I’d pretty much do whatever I wanted.

        See also Congress is very serious about Libya

      • It’s not the blowjob – it’s lying about the blowjob.

        Republicans aren’t upset because we’re in Libya, or because they honestly believe that the Pres violated the WPA. They’re just playing their usual bullshit games.

        Remember Iraq? Did they say a fucking word about it when it became clear that Bush & Co. cooked up the WMD nonsense? Of course not.

        • Scopedog

          “Remember Iraq? Did they say a fucking word about it when it became clear that Bush & Co. cooked up the WMD nonsense? Of course not. ”


          Then again, the MSM didn’t say jack, either.

      • Adding……I know you’re right overall. It would be far better just to get authorization and be done with it, or just pull out so the cons have nothing to scream about.

        • Scopedog

          “…or just pull out so the cons have nothing to scream about.”

          I hate to say it, Nicole, but the cons would still scream about this, shifting it to “Why did we pull out when Khadaffi (sic) was killing his own people?”

          Honestly, the GOP has no honor. Whatever shred of it was left was flushed down the crapper years ago.

  • Let’s not embarrass ourselves by parsing the statute with tweezers…an odd thing for me to say since I make my living distinguishing the vast difference between MAY and SHALL, and pointing out significant commas that differentiate “Fruit, plants” from “Fruit plants”.

    Participating in the bombing of Libya; in the death of civilians; in the furtherance of removing the president of Libya from power – whether through gassing up planes, loading bombs, providing carrier platforms, proffering drones, flying sorties or anything else IS conducting war. That’s WAR.
    That there are not boots on the ground is not a distinction worth making, and the attempt to distinguish this from that on such a technical basis ought to raise very serious questions for those who make the argument.

    “I never pull the trigger, I just help the shooter aim.”
    Tell that to the jury and see what happens.
    Either find a full justification for what it IS we do, or stop doing it.

    • Participating in the bombing of Libya; in the death of civilians; in the furtherance of removing the president of Libya from power – whether through gassing up planes, loading bombs, providing carrier platforms, proffering drones, flying sorties or anything else IS conducting war. That’s WAR.

      It may technically be “war”, but the reality is that we are simply supplying support for NATO forces. And, are we not obligated to do so?

      • Obligated…not obligated. Legal…illegal. Justified…unjustified.
        THOSE are arguments that, as arguments, may have some merit.
        Saying, “We aren’t at war because we don’t pull the trigger!” is a bunch of sophomoric bullshit.

        • Got it. Thanks, Avi. πŸ™‚

        • “We aren’t at war because we don’t pull the trigger!”

          That’s a nice straw man quote that Bob didn’t say. He immediately clarifies his headline in the first sentence. I’m not a war hawk, but for the Love of Christ, can we all just be realistic humans about this? No President would have played this anymore tentatively than President Obama did. No POTUS is going to turn down allied involvement in a NATO action to immediately prevent psychopathic slaughter of democratically protesting citizens–LED by its allies, some who have been reluctant participants in OUR previous highly unpopular (in their own countries and ours) wars. Within a matter of days (we provided wingman support to France in March– by April we were gassing up planes) our role changed, as POTUS promised. This is all about the GOP throwing a tantrum at an apt negotiating time. Boehner, as the article Bob references outlines, has twice called this act he is invoking unconstitutional, and has said that what the President did did not violate this Act. What this is all about is not the definition of war– or whether what NATO is doing is war– it’s about whether President Obama has breached his power or overreached. He clearly has not, but all the dovey Left is falling right in line with the GOP talking points. Ridiculous. When are we going to realize that the GOP creates controversies that don’t exist. We are not litigating the existence of the military action/war whatever you want to call it– JUST Obama’s ever-assaulted executive decisions.

          • There’s nothing remotely like a straw man argument there. Neither did I put those words in Bob’s mouth. The quotation marks are an employment of Royal WE.
            Arguing about whether or not the action in Libya amounts to war pursuant to the particular relevant statute – which is exactly what Bob DID – is a simply bullshit…and the technical pivot on which that argument turns is boots on the ground / pulling the trigger.
            SUPPLYING the bullets, and the gas, and the landing strips, and the support ships and every other goddamn thing that is necessary for someone else to pull the damn trigger puts you at war, and the argument that the USA is NOT at war on that technical frame is the sort of thing I expect from John Fucking Woo and Donald Fucking Rumsfeld – not from the Obama administration or Cesca.
            The CONCLUSION that Obama has “not overreached” – constructed on that purely technical position – only reveals you as both utterly shallow and willing to engage in the exact same sorts of flips and twists that were required to conclude that torture ain’t really torture.
            War is war. Either find some goddamn reason to say it’s OK or STFU. But don’t tell me it ain’t war.
            And calling ME “dovey left” ain’t gonna get you anywhere remotely close to making a cogent argument. You either don’t know me from fucking Adam…well, that’s gotta be it. You have no idea who you’re talking to.
            And not to call you a myopic twit, but litigating the definition of WAR is EXACTLY what this post is about – see the TITLE: “WE’RE NOT AT WAR IN LIBYA.”
            Yes, we are.

          • Not sure why I waste my time replying to your rant, because when someone devolves to “do you know who I am?” and ad hominem, the shark has been jumped. I am an extremely left person who most certainly has a grasp on reality and what reality is telling me right now is that you are so insistent on beating your identity drum– whatever that is– that you are ignoring facts. Law and politics are all about subtle distinctions. You imply you have intimate knowledge of law– intellectual honesty requires you to admit this. It does matter what capacity we serve in this action, and it did matter in Iraq. Comparing this to a Bush/Cheney torture apology is utterly absurd. We don’t live in utopia we live in a flawed country with an imperialist past like all our Western allies who execute wars. Unless something dramatic changes about our country, we will always be lamenting US involvement in these things. As well we should. But we should be grown ups about expecting our leaders to do something that is virtually impossible. I repeat– this is a GOP talking point, a brilliant one, and you fell right in line. I’ll leave it at that because I have to go. –Joy H

          • GOP talking point? I refer you again to the TITLE of this post.
            As for the GOP, even a blind squirrel finds an acorn once in awhile.
            I didn’t fall in line with a fucking thing. I simply refuse to say the USA is not at war because it’s not actually dropping the bombs, merely supplying them, targeting the drops, and gassing up the fighters. It’s WAR. You can yammer all you like about not pulling the trigger – it’s war.
            Argumentum ad hominem – another term you fail to understand. Just because I called you stupid does not amount to ad hominem. That would be the case if I called you stupid INSTEAD OF responding to what you think passes for an argument. I did not. I responded directly to your argument, and on the basis of your argument, asserted that you must be stupid. It is, therefore, NOT an example of argumentum ad hominem…and I get fucking sick of ignoramuses dismissing better arguments just because they object to people pointing out how shallow they are.
            Thanks for the lesson on the distinctions of legal reasoning. There’s a difference between subtle distinctions and invented distinctions, which brings us back to the “straw man” you initially alleged – that not pulling the trigger means you are not at war. THAT is PRECISELY the same sort of bullshit reasoning that results in “Torture is not torture.” It is, or ought to be, beneath anyone capable of even basic moral, much less legal, reasoning.
            And accusing me of “falling in line” with a GOP talking point is only further evidence of the paucity of your comprehension and your willingness to sacrifice anything even distantly related to logic in order to justify a convoluted, embarrassing argument that is in utter denial of simple fucking reality.

          • Clancy

            Wow. You are a very pleasant fellow. I’m glad you’re here to let everyone else know how wonderfully superior you are. If not for that, we might have missed it.

          • Actually, Avi is one of the most loved commenters on this blog, and has been forever.

          • Aw jeez, Clancy…no need to knot your knickers with passive aggressive butthurt. You could simply go fuck yourself.

          • Clancy

            Ah, you’re the best, Avi. I guess I can see why you’re so loved around here. You must get invited to a lot of parties.

            Look, I have no problem calling you out for the asshole that you clearly are. Also, genius, it wasn’t passive aggression, but sarcasm. Perhaps that’s also one of those technicalities with which you seem to have so much trouble.

          • I appreciate the sanity check, Clancy.

          • Thanks, for the Latin lesson. I have an advanced degree in Classical Languages and taught college Latin, but one can never get too many didactic, patronizing, blow-hard lessons in things one knows better than the person giving them. Honestly, I am not sure how some spirited but civil debate devolved to this, and I don’t quite understand why someone with the grasp of the complexities of this situation that Mr. Brink clearly seems to have is so deferential to someone who is employing 10th grade debate club rhetorical devices, but suffice it to say, whatever I might have read here today or here at another time of yours that might have been persuasive or I might have admired has been utterly overshadowed by your boorish, nasty, and overweeningly arrogant manner. Enjoy your rum, Charmer.

            –Joy H.

          • ranger11

            I think people are mainlining outrage these days. This seems to be a problem that gets worse as I get older. I look at Libya like I looked at Kosovo back in the 90’s. We’re not even in the lead this time. Did the “left” freak out this much back then? I really don’t remember it. This society is going to need a nice long cigarette after Obama leaves office. Thank god I’ll be dead soon as I’m getting too old for this hyper-hysterical shit. The Republic is doooooommmmed!

          • It’s really beyond the pale, isn’t it? One can only shout into the wind so long. Take some multivitamins and hang in there, Please. We need a handful of people with a grasp on reality to propagate the planet after the Obama End-times.

          • I never said, “Do you know who I am.”
            I SAID, “YOU DON’T KNOW who I am.”
            And that was because you were silly enough to call me “Dovey left.”
            I’m not beating an identity drum, Fonzie…I’m correcting your stunning ignorance on yet another narrow point.

          • So what you are saying is that we entered WWII long before Pearl Harbor, with the introduction of the lend lease policy to be precise.

          • The_Dork_Knight

            Agreed. We were supplying the British and Chinese long before Pearl Harbor. Giving people supplies to fight a war is not war. It might or might not be a good thing to do, but its not war. I think Bob is right on this.

          • Bob qualified his “not at war” statement when he said “at least we’re not engaged in combat per se”.
            Technically, as Bob recognizes, we are at war according to the WPA.

          • Clancy

            Just to parse further your argument here, by your suggestion, merely supplying one of the parties in a conflict with their arms would equal being at “war” with the other side? Then, would “we” not be at war more often than not (and almost always in violation of the WPR)? What if we only supported a military incursion of one country by another through a vote in the U.N. Security Council? Technically, “we” provided legal cover for one nation to commit an act of war against another, thus we would be providing support for their actions. Should we run those votes through Congress first, just to be sure the WPR is adhered to?

            But, then again, perhaps that’s one of those technicalities that you wrote about. . .

            I honestly don’t think I’m that far off from agreeing with you on this, but for someone who makes his “living distinguishing the vast difference” in technicalities, your argument quite quickly got emotional, aggressive, and insulting to folks who did little more than indicate that the situation seems a little more complicated than what appears to the case on the surface.

            To me, it seems like a real no-brainer that the President should submit U.S. actions, however limited they should be, for Congressional approval. They rarely turn these things down. In reality, I’m somewhat politically content that he hasn’t, however, because Congressional authorization usually translates into granting the POTUS carte blanche, leading to (seemingly) unending military involvement (look no further than Iraq & Afghanistan for proof). In some respects, not complying with the WPR has a tendency to actually limit overt American involvement in these things.

          • It’s entirely possible to come up with a metric assload of hypothetical situations that make answering the question, “Are we at war?” far more difficult than it is in THIS case.
            In Libya, it is simply not a question worth debating. The USA is engaged in warfare.

            When I am told that I have fallen for a GOP talking point (as opposed to presenting a reasoned position based on facts) by someone who plainly denies reality, I tend to get cranky when 3/4 of the way through a bottle of rum. I’d apologize if I were sorry.

            The GOP are certainly taking this opportunity to slap at the POTUS. Where did I put my surprised face? It wouldn’t matter what Obama did, they’d find something to bitch about. That’s beside the point.
            The TITLE of this post, turning on a bullshit technicality (and once again) We’re Not At War in Libya

            Yes, we ARE. And getting into THAT stupid, disingenuous fucking argument IS playing into the GOP’s hand.
            Like Clinton’s, “It depends on what the definition of the word IS is,” it’s BULLSHIT, and ought to be beneath any decent president.
            Just fucking say, “Yeah. We’re at war. And we’re at war for good fucking reason.”
            Or stop waging the damn war.
            Take your pick. But saying we ain’t doing what we are plainly doing is just stupid and shameful.

          • Clancy

            If it’s not worth debating, then I suggest you might want to consider not debating it. Your dismissal of the viewpoint out of hand, when it’s a perfectly reasonable argument (even if I don’t agree with it), is more than a little problematic. I don’t think it’s “plainly” evident that the U.S. is at war, or what constitutes an act of war, or “hostilities” under the WPR. The fact that you haven’t cited any evidence as to how this constitutes hostilities as defined by the WPR in your argument speaks volumes to this point. While defining “is” might seem pretty stupid (and, I’d agree, it’s moronic), determining what constitutes “hostilities” in these cases is crucial. The technicalities of these kinds of things do actually matter.

            Personally, it seems clear that the U.S. is taking an active role in the campaign, even if it is not directly engaged with Libyan forces. For example, “refueling” doesn’t mean they’re gassing up trucks in France, that is fuel for bombers and fighter jets that are actively bombing Libyan military targets. Recon and surveillance is providing direct military support for NATO forces that then utilize this information for targeting Libyan military forces. (Of course, the latter could be conducted by the CIA and thus may not be directly accountable to the WPR, but let’s assume the military is involved.) Assuming this is the true extent of current American military involvement, does this in fact constitute participation in “hostilities” as defined under the WPR? While I don’t know, but personally believe that the President should just submit U.S. involvement for Congressional approval, I do know that others find the question worthy of debate. Dismissing the notion that this question is even debatable strikes me as unreasonable.

          • Dismissing it ab initio is EXACTLY what I’m doing.
            I’m not debating it because it is not a debatable question.
            Here’s another thing I dismiss: Anyone who thinks it’s a debatable question.

          • Clancy

            Well, then I stand by my comments from earlier. It’s a wonder the democracy lasted as long as it did. Thankfully, you are here to save us from our own stupidity.