Friday, April 01, 2011

War Powers

Ghaddafi of the Multiple Transliterations personally ordered the bombing of Pan Am 103. That is what is reported as the being the story told by the former Libyan Foreign Minister who is being debriefed by the British.

Given that the reported predicate for the deal struck between The Bush 43 administration and Kakadaffy was that the Libyans give up their WMD programs and rat out on known al-Qaeda in return for extended breathing privileges for the Qadhafi clan.. Despite some recent speechifying by the romantic Colonel he has largely kept his side of that bargain so some are questioning the propriety of our now seeking his ouster. Part of the fine print of the deal, as elaborated by the British after they arranged for the release of the Libyan operative convicted in the Lockerbie bombing in return for a trade deal, was that we accepted at face value two stories put out by the Libyans.
1. The Maximum Leader King of Kings was really a dupe whose intel services went rogue on him. This could be called the Pakistani ISI model or “boys will be boys.”
2. It was really the Iranians who did it and Quackydahfay is now helping us in ways that we really don’t want publicized.

Neither story was very credible but maintaining a veneer of plausibility was considered part of the agreement that protected the Libyan regime. The story attributed to the defecting Cabinet Minister tears that agreement apart. In fairness to the Despot of the Many Fetching Robes he has some reason to feel hard used if the agreement did not fail because of his own incompetence in preventing a rebellion, by being insufficiently ruthless, and the defection of his diplomatic staff but because of actions by the Americans in encouraging Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda backed unrest. Nevertheless we now have the story out and have to respond to it.

My belief is that the Congress of the United States should invite the British Ambassador to answer some questions regarding the evidence offered and their opinion regarding the destruction of an American flagged airliner and the deaths of American citizens. The head of the CIA should then be asked the same questions. The only difference being that while HM Ambassador would be on his word as a gentleman the Director of the CIA would be under oath as a civil servant.

Let us assume that the evidence is clear and damning that Muammar Ghaddafi did with malice of forethought order the murder of those civilian Americans. What should we do then? The proper legal and normal thing for a sovereign nation to do in such a circumstance is issue an ultimatum demanding a confession, apology, compensation, and the delivery of such persons as were responsible for the execution of justice. In this case such persons include Mumbles Gads-here’s-his-affray. When that ultimatum is not met with full satisfaction within a stated time, 12 hours should do, a State of War is declared to be in effect.

The astute reader might notice who I have not mentioned in this scenario, the President of the United States or Barack Obama depending on how you choose to address him. The power to declare war is vested under the US Constitution in the Congress. The President has traditionally gone to Congress and advised them on when such a declaration is needed. There is no requirement for that to originate with the Executive, who exists after all to execute the will of Congress, any more that there is for any Act of Congress to be submitted from outside the legislature. A Declaration of War, unlike a Bill seeking to become a Law, does not even need to be submitted for presidential signature and is not subject to a veto. In that it resemble a constitutional amendment but without the provision for a needed super majority.

There is also no necessity to submit the power to declare war to the United Nations or any other body for approval. It is an expression of the sovereign will of the people as expressed through their legislature. Given that the UN is not a government and does not derive its powers from the consent of the governed, an impossibility given that the majority of its members are despotisms, it cannot replace the role of the Congress. Given that the Congress appoints the US Ambassador to the UN who exercises the veto power on our behalf in the Security Council, the UN must be seen as the subordinate body.

That does not mean that the Congress should ignore the opinion of the President or the opinions of other members of the international community in reaching such a rare and momentous decision. It is the duty of the President to keep the Congress well informed regarding what threats are faced, the opinions of potential allies or enemies as well as their capabilities, and other competing interests that have to be balanced in setting policy. Congress sets the policy and must sometimes accept that some offenses against the United States go insufficiently punished for the greater good.

In this case if the facts are as reported and if the British and the US intelligence services confirm them, as I believe they must although they will do so reluctantly, then it would be appropriate to proceed to a Declaration of War. That would enable the US to eliminate the regime in Tripoli. We would not do so as a servant of some international consensus regarding a Responsibility to Protect (R2P) those who the Libyan government should protect. We would not do so at the behest of the Arab League or the EU oil cartels. We would do so because it was the right thing for the American government to do in response to injuries done to Americans.

We could provide some humanitarian assistance in the future. Ideally that would take the form of missionaries with further military activity only being called in as a response to further outrages against US citizens. If the locals need medicine, schooling and other assistance then I am confident that the Mormons and the Baptists can provide it. If they understand that they can decline the help but that if they do so violently the response will be disproportionate then the level of violence is likely to decrease faster than if we enter into an extended military occupation. It may be that we do have to offer the alternative of a real colonial occupation and transformation of the local society as an alternative that we could resort to if the locals respond to the removal of the current government by supporting a Taliban like replacement that becomes a threat.

What we should not do is half occupy the country and install a sharia regime under US military protection, as we did in Iraq and Afghanistan. What we should not do is support and enable Muslim Brotherhood and al-Qaeda elements and undemocratic international governance advocates at the expense of American power, interests, and security. What we should not do is violate the Constitution of the United States and subordinate the US Congress to the opinions of illegitimate outside agents. What we should not do is anything like what Obama has done.

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