The purpose of this blog is to get readers to think about the complex (or perhaps simple) issues I write about.

The primary topics will revolve around politics and society as a whole, but a mixture of sports opinion may be thrown in from time to time.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Our Actions in Libya are Setting a Dangerous Precedent: Both Here and Abroad

If you are a friend of mine on facebook or you follow me on twitter you know that I have criticized Obama for delaying and not leading on the Libyan issue, regardless of the final decision that was made.

You also probably know that I am not a supporter of Barack Obama, typically the contrary. Regardless of your feelings about the man, United States action in Libya has either started or continued a dangerous precedent insofar as our actions in foreign policy.

Let's start with a glaring problem I see the Libyan situation presents domestically.

During the course of this venture to the expected end of a no-fly zone, the President has unilaterally (in the sense of the use of his executive powers) pursued military action.

By choosing to bypass the War Powers Act, and launch military offensives of cruise missiles and air strikes against Libya, the President bypassed Congressional Authority.

While Congress has not declared war in over half a century, under the War Powers Act, Congress has almost always (with the exception of the various military action in the Clinton years) advised and consented to military action.

The Obama Administration has wantonly acted upon what it thought to be good faith, making the dangerous assumption that Congress, largely supporting the idea of overthrowing Quaddafi would ask no questions.

Several Congresspeople, most notably Richard Lugar (R-IN) have raised questions about the steps that have been taken (avoided) by the Obama Administration in their offensive in Libya.

Surprisingly, Obama's biggest fan base, the national news media, has been reporting on the problems Congress people have with not being given their constitutional obligations in the Libyan matter.

However, there are certainly people in both camps (the media and Congress) who believe, much like the President (presumably) that the United Nations "permission" to initiate a war subverts the United States Constitution.

I am willing to give the Obama Administration the benefit of the doubt. I do believe the Administration was acting on what it thought was full faith and credit as far as the hearts and minds of Congress was concerned when it decided to participate in the no-fly zone and all that it entailed.

But what the no-fly zone does entail is military action against a country and people whom we really know nothing about, which brings me to my next and final point, the action against Libya is setting a dangerous precedent in the effects of our foreign policy for decades into the future.

I am guilty of what just about every other American is guilty of. We love our country, but more importantly we love American democracy. We love it so much that we take it as sacrosanct, and thus we believe that every other country that doesn't have democracy, should have it.

Now where we as Americans differ is on where, when and how to institute democracy to nations who don't have it.

For the purpose of the article I will stick with Libya. So what exactly are we doing? Perhaps the more important question to ask is why are we doing this?

We know that Quaddafi is a brutal dictator, a tyrant, and and international terrorist. But do we really know what we're doing in Libya as it currently stands?

Secretary of State, Hillary Clinton claims that coalition actions (of which the United States is a tardy member in) are supposed to be helping out "the people of Libya."

Clearly if that were the case, we may have thought twice. Why? Well the people of Libya to me, constitutes the entire population, and what Clinton really means is that we (the coalition) are standing with the rebels who want to overthrow Quaddafi.

The real goal of the coalition forces is regime change. The coalition nations believe that a Libya sans Quaddafi is inherently a more stable Libya than one with him at the head of the government.

Ok, fine, it's hard to disagree with that, but then you have to ask the question. What do we know about all of these rebels? Are they all opposing Quaddafi for the same reasons?

That last questions is going to be the one that never gets answered, because it has never been answered in the regime changes the United States have been a part of over the last few decades.

Yet it is the core question that has to be answered. What happens next? Should always be the first question asked before regime change is begun. It wasn't asked this time, because it's never been asked before.

To put it bluntly, the Obama administration and all of the other participating coalition nations are simply hoping that this military action as a piece of the no-fly zone will bring about regime change.

When something as crucial as a regime change in a hypersensitive region of the world is the game, relying on something as in-quantitative as "hope" is dangerous.

We've used hope in our regime change operations throughout history, and nine times out of ten it has always crumbled.

The Obama administration has been goaded by pressure from both the right and left to get involved in the Libyan situation. He's jumped in with both feet, ignoring Congressional consent along the way, and like all regime change operations, there is no strategic foundation.

As Americans we love the idea of spreading democracy. We believe that governments derive their power from the people, and in the instance of Libya, that is certainly not the case. Instead the people there are being ruthlessly murdered by a violent dictator.

When and where does this end? There are dozens of Quaddafis running countries all over the globe at this very moment, why has Libya received such close and special attention?

These questions will likely go unanswered, but there are a couple things that are for sure.

By foregoing Congressional approval to enter a military conflict to seemingly appease a populist group of supporters from both right and left, while at the same time blindly hoping that "days not weeks" of pro-regime change military action will oust Quaddafi and supplant a prosperous new government, sets massively dangerous precedents in US Foreign Policy both domestically and abroad.

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