Friday, April 01, 2011

More Libyan Chaos

There is some discussion about the unconstitutional nature of Obama’s decision to attack Libya, but I am in small company in continuing to insist that he acted outside of his authority under the constitution. For the most part the discussion on this subject illustrates to what degree our political arena is no longer about principles or ideology, but has become sheer tribalism; my tribe is good, your tribe is bad.

Whatever Obama’s reason for attacking Libya, he knew he could do so with impunity. Other than a small handful of wingnuts on the extreme left, Democrats will not criticize him for anything he does, and without any exceptions at all Republicans will never criticize him for starting a war. It’s pretty much the one basis upon which they will not attack him.

As a measure of the confidence of his administration feels on the issue, Hillary Clinton is quoted as saying that “The White House would forge ahead with military action in Libya even if Congress passed a resolution constraining the mission.” The only source we have for that is Talking Points Memo, and I do not regard that as a particularly reliable source, although most of the media does and the quote is being widely circulated.
If the quote is accurate, this is a truly horrifying statement.

Daniel Larison has a fascinating evaluation of the Libyan situation in which he describes how neat of a reversal of roles this one is from Iraq;

Instead of the reckless, unprepared Pentagon pushing for an invasion over the objections of more cautious State Department officials, we have the reckless, unprepared State Department officials insisting on a war the Pentagon sees as pointless. In other words, the people whose expertise was most relevant and should have been heeded were deliberately sidelined, and the people who had no idea what they were getting into prevailed.

The roles and political positions of the American and British governments are reversed. Where Britain was dragged along behind Bush into Iraq by Blair supposedly to keep the “special relationship” intact, Obama has given the impression that he and his administration have been dragged along behind Britain (and France)…

You should read the whole thing, it’s an interesting read.

He expresses sympathy for Robert Gates, who advised against intervention before we did so and is forced now to “defend a policy that he has to know is profoundly ill-advised,” and wonders why Gates doesn’t just resign. As one commenter points out, Gates cannot do so without seriously damaging his President, and Gates is a loyal public servant who would never do that.

(I love writers who use terms like "profoundly ill-advised.")

I have no sympathy for Robert Gates, any more than I do for Colin Powell. They served masters whom they knew to be engaged in policies that were harmful, and they kept silent and advocated those policies is service to their masters and in violation of their own principles. The time for Gates to resign was when he recognized that Obama was the kind of president who was capable of making this decision, and he’s not a stupid man; he recognized that a long time ago.

Update: Happy April 1st

I guess this Libyan thing really has pissed me off. 73 posts in March is a new monthly record for me.

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