Our Wars

I’m glad that Senators Murray and Cantwell are among the senators pushing for a draw down of troops from Afghanistan. It’s past time we got serious about getting out. Bin Laden is dead. I’m not sure what good we’re doing there any more.

This is to say nothing of the money we’ve sunk and the lives lost there. So, yes, it’s very good to see Democrats pushing a Democratic president on this.

And yet, with Libya it’s not a lot of mainstream Democrats. Any time Kucinich gets to take the lead on something it’s because there aren’t a lot of other Democrats lined up. While I understand that unlike Iraq, the humanitarian mission isn’t total bullshit, Congressional approval ought to come before the bombs start falling. And that’s a principal that Democrats should stand for no matter who is in the White House. So even though I have nothing but contempt for the people who turned a blind eye when Bush was doing worse, I still hope they succeed in stopping our involvement in Libya.


  1. 1

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    “Congressional approval ought to come before the bombs start falling.”

    That’s a principle Republicans have never respected and never will. In fact, Republicans from Nixon to Reagan to Dubya have ignored laws and even the Constitution when they want to do something. And then they lie to the public about what they’ve done.

    Yes, Democrats are different from Republicans — we believe in the rule of law. And that’s why presidents should go to Congress for authorization before making war: Because the Constitution vests that power in Congress, not the executive.

    But if you want the Constitution and the laws of the land followed by those in power, you must vote for Democrats, because Republicans disrespect — and sometimes display outright contempt for — the rule of law.

  2. 2

    Michael spews:

    Yep. While I do support what we’re doing Libya, Obama should have gone to congress first and if congress said (or says) no he should honor that.

  3. 3

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    The U.S. military intervention in Afghanistan is a complicated problem with national security, strategic, and humanitarian facets.

    To understand it, you must first realize that Afghanistan is not a country, it’s a place on maps, enclosed by artificial boundary lines drawn by Europeans in disregard of local demographics and customs; and there’s no such thing as an “Afghan” — the people inhabitating Afghanistan belong to several major tribal groups and numerous smaller ones, and they identify with their group. Among the inhabitants of Afghanistan there is no sense of national identity. And Afghanistan is not a melting pot; it’s a fractious polyglot of rivals competing for power. Historically, this competition was violent; a new strongman typically took power by murdering the old one.

    When a tiny cabal of Moscow-inspired communists seized power in early 1979 but were unable to establish control, the Soviet Union invaded — nominally to prop up the communist regime in Kabul; but they had several other, more ulterior, motives. For example, they didn’t want an Islamic state on their southern border, adjacent to Soviet republics with restive Muslim populations. Another key motive was that airbases in Afghanistan are barely more than 300 flying miles from the Persian Gulf. This made Afghanistan of great strategic interest to both the U.S. and the U.S.S.R. in the Cold War.

    The Soviets, during their 10-year occupation, killed a million people and inflicted enormous damage on Afghanistan. They destroyed more than half of its 28,000 villages, rendered much of the agricultural land unusable, and turned its people into the world’s largest refugee population (most of them living in squalid camps in Pakistan and Iran). The cities were largely spared during the fighting because they were held by strong Soviet garrisons.

    But that changed after the Soviet occupation ended. During the jihad, the resistance consisted of seven major parties who grudgingly cooperated with each other to fight the Soviets. Following the Soviet withdrawal, they turned on each other, and the violent power struggle that ensued destroyed the cities.

    In the mid-1990s, the Taliban succeeded in conquering most of Afghanistan. At first welcomed by the populace as peace-bringers and restorers of law and order, their brutal rule quickly alienated the people. By providing training camps and sanctuaries to Al Qaeda from which the 9/11 attacks were launched, they invited U.S. military intervention and were quickly ousted from power.

    Since then, the problem for the U.S. has been trying to create a stable and functioning government in Afghanistan while fending off a Taliban resurgence. U.S. planners also inherited an enormous humanitarian problem. After 30 years of continuous war, Afghanistan is devastated and its desperate people have no means of supporting themselves. Today, 70% of Afghanistan’s national income consists of foreign humanitarian aid.

    Due to the fractured (and fractious) nature of Afghan society, nation-building is an incredibly difficult, if not impossible, task; one made all the more difficult by endemic and entrenched traditions of corruption, cronyism, and tribalism. The reality is that the people of Afghanistan will not accept a social structure or a government imposed on them by foreigners, so any outside attempts at nation-building probably are doomed to fail.

    The dilemma for U.S. policymakers is how do we deny terrorists use of Afghanistan, prevent poppy production (Afghanistan produces 90% of the world’s opium), protect our strategic interests in South Asia and the Persian Gulf, and provide badly needed humanitarian and rebuilding assistance to the Afghan peoples, without a U.S. military occupation to keep the Taliban out and keep the Afghan factions from fighting each other? If we withdraw our troops, it’s likely the Taliban will regain control and all of these policy objectives will be defeated. But a permanent U.S. military presence there is unthinkable to most Americans, both in and out of government.

    The Obama administration has opted for buying time to try to shore up the Karzai regime and bring Afghanistan’s army and police forces up to a level of training that will enable them to hold off the Taliban and maintain a tolerable level of social order. This policy is founded on what can only be described as an optimistic, if not Pollyannish, view of what is possible in one of the world’s most anarchic places. Depending on how guileless or pessimistic you are, we should either stay as long as possible to give the currently ruling Pushtun faction the best possible opportunity to assert effective power and earn legitimacy in the eyes of the rest of Afgahnistan’s tribes and ethnic groups, or cut our losses and get out as soon as practicable. Either way, Afghanistan faces a tumultuous future, and nothing will come easy in terms of asserting America’s policy interests and protecting its national interests in that forlorn corner of the world.

  4. 4

    proud leftist spews:

    1 and 2
    I agree with both of you. What we’re doing in Libya is the right thing to do. There is international support for getting rid of Moammar (how is he presently spelling his name?). He is a tyrant who has caused great harm. We, the US of A, however, are supposed to be a nation abiding to the rule of law. Obama should appeal to Congress on this one. It’s not a hard case. Bush (like Nixon and Reagan) pushed executive power far beyond where it should go. I would like to see Obama say there are limits to executive power. That’s hard to do, when you are the executive

  5. 5

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @2 Congress shouldn’t say no to Libya. For many reasons. First, we’re not doing the fighting; we should count ourselves lucky that Europeans are willing to do it and all we have to do is supply munitions. Second, Gadhafi committed an act of war against the United States when he ordered the bombing of the Pan Am jetliner; and now that we have concrete evidence of his role in that attack, he is our enemy and military reprisal is justified. Third, it’s morally repugnant to stand aside and let him butcher his own people. This guy is a tinpot dictator with a small and weak army; if we don’t intervene in a situation like this, then we are useless in the world.

  6. 6

    Right Stuff spews:

    So even though I have nothing but contempt for the people who turned a blind eye when Bush was doing worse, I still hope they succeed in stopping our involvement in Libya.

    Which Bush? And Where?

  7. 7

    Zotz sez: Teahadists are Koch suckers! spews:

    Where have you guys been (Roger et al)?

    The Rs are all obstruction, all the time. In this case, they would have had D-twits like Kucinich to help them.

    And to top it off, after they’d mauled Obama, they would have demanded hostages to pass a resolution.

    Fuck, they can’t even get a Nobel Prize winner thru the Senate.

    The US is not at war in Libya in any case, and hasn’t been for a couple of months now. We’re providing surveillance and refueling.

    O is doing exactly the right thing here.

  8. 8

    rhp6033 spews:

    I agree that Obama should force a vote on Lybia in Congress.

    One, for moral and legal reasons: the President’s war-making powers are not unlimited, nor should they be.

    Second, by forcing a vote Congress will be forced to go on the record regarding their position on Libya. Without being forced to really go on the record, with a yes/no vote, Republicans will always criticize Obama with 20-20 hindsight, claiming that whatever happens, he should have done it differently.

    One minor correction: Republicans haven’t ALWAYS been for military action overseas. Only when a Republican is president to they cheer military action, such as in Panama, Gulf War I, Afganistan, Iraq, etc. In each case they argued that they didn’t need Congressional approval, but reluctantly requested approval in the case of Gulf War I, Afganistan, and Iraq.

    But when a Democrat is President, they are more than willing to condemn the military action, whether it is in Bosnia, Macedonia, Somalia, or now in Libya. Or, in the case of Newt Gingrich, he can within a weeks time claim that we shouldn’t get involved in Libya, that we should use air strikes in Libya, that we should get “boots on the ground” in Libya, and then back to arguing that we should “get out of Libya”.

  9. 9

    Right Stuff spews:

    One minor correction: Republicans haven’t ALWAYS been for military action overseas. Only when a Republican is president to they cheer military action, such as in Panama, Gulf War I, Afganistan, Iraq, etc. In each case they argued that they didn’t need Congressional approval, but reluctantly requested approval in the case of Gulf War I, Afganistan, and Iraq.

    So, you agree, that former Republican Presidents followed the law, and sought/received congressional approval.

  10. 10

    manoftruth spews:

    whats really sad is that you all dont know/understand/believe/admit, that iraq, afghanastan and libya were all done for one reason, the security of israel. did you expect george bush to come out and tell the world that there will be a protracted, systematic goal of taking down muslim dictatorships one at a time and turn them into friendly democracies. and obama is doing the same thing, albeit trying to make it appear its all nato (which of course doesnt exist without us).

  11. 11

    Right Stuff spews:

    Go away.

    Go start your own blog where you can spew anti-semetic, racist hate all you want.

  12. 12

    ArtFart spews:

    There are clearly some different motivations in play in Congress. Kucinich simply believes war is not the answer in general, and as the festivities in Libya go on and on–and the rebels’ own actions, unlike those in Egypt, become anything but nonviolent, what we’re doing there becomes more and more questionable. Waiting for a NATO consensus, in this case, may have been wrong, because the initiative was lost, and now we and our allies have become embroiled in a full-on civil war. If the Libyans are bound and determined to slaughter each other, what are we accomplishing by killing a few more of them?

    With the Republicans, however, it’s simply another opportunity to put egg on Obama’s face. They oppose this war because it’s his war and not theirs. I have every confidence that the next time a Republican takes residence at 1600 Pennsylvania, he or she will waste little time finding another country or two to pound the shit out of.

  13. 13

    manoftruth spews:

    Go start your own blog where you can spew anti-semetic, racist hate all you want.

    hmmm, so you can anaylize foreign policy of any country but israel?

  14. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @12 The weakness of your argument is it assumes both sides in a civil war are equally reprehensible. That’s probably not true in Libya.

  15. 16

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    10, 13 – It’s time for Americans to realize Israelis aren’t good guys anymore. With all due regard for their legitimate security concerns, no Palestinian in his right mind could be expected to settle this dispute on Israel’s current terms. Israel is the biggest recipient by far of U.S. military aid, which makes America the chief enabler of Israel’s bad behavior.

  16. 17

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “I’m glad that Senators Murray and Cantwell are among the senators pushing for a draw down of troops from Afghanistan.”

    Yeah, add to that list Norm Dicks. When the major political players form Washington (the home of a defense contractor Boeing) advocate for leaving Afghanistan, it’s time to start packing-up and getting out.

    While it would be great if the Afghans wanted to be a modern democracy, I’m afraid it just ain’t in the cards for them. Religious and cultural impediments abound in the Islamic world. Democracy is just not suited for their religion and culture.

  17. 18

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    “10, 13 – It’s time for Americans to realize Israelis aren’t good guys anymore.”

    This is one of those rare times when the rodent’s correct. Israel is not necessarily the good guy in the Middle East, and it’s time for us to excuse ourselves from what amounts to a religious war. Israel will either make it on its own or not. I’m totally neutral on the outcome.

  18. 19

    rhp6033 spews:

    9: In three instances, Republican presidents did eventually (after some arm-twisting) agree to go to Congress and ask for authorization. This was Gulf War I, Afganistan, and Iraq. Personally, I thought the debate over the Gulf War was one of the better moments in the Senate in the past forty years or so.

    Reagan did not seek authorization for that island in the Carribean (I forget the name), Panama, or the Lebanon (using battleships to shell positions in the Lebanese mountains, and sending Marines into Beirut airport, which everyone involved agreed met every military definition of an indefensible position.

    But Bush II decided to stack the deck, released highly mis-leading cherry-picked intelligence when he requested the vote, and his assertions were wrong on just about every count. He did not intend to keep negotiating, once he got the authorization the negotiations stopped. There was no Al Quida in Iraq at the time. Iraq did not have a nuclear or biological weapons program. Turkey was not going to support the invasion, it wasn’t even going to allow our troops to cross through their territory of have the U.S. use air basis in Turkey for the conflict. There was no government-in-exile which would step in and take over. Our troops were not going to be greeted with cheers and rose petals by most of the Iraqis. If this was a case over a home remodel contract, the court would have tossed out the contract as being tainted by fraud.

    What the Republicans learned from this is that if you get a vote, you can use it against any Congressman who dares to criticize your conduct of the war thereafter. I figure the Democrats should at least learn to do the same.

  19. 20

    rhp6033 spews:

    # 18: While I certainely don’t want to see Israel faced with a serious threat of extermination (as has occured several times since it’s founding), Israel also has to realize that the U.S. isn’t going to back every Israeli position or action in a knee-jerk fashion.