Wednesday, March 23, 2011

War Powerless

Sometime gentle reader the news just runs away from your faithful reporter and hides.  A week ago I was fretting that the President might get his no fly on. I was scribbling madly about how a No Fly Zone in Libya was an epically brain-dead move. I was worried that the usual gang of idiots in DC might log roll Obama, and have him commit to the No Fly. I had no idea how quickly the President would fold to the conventional wisdom of the fever swamps of the Potomac.

Twenty four hours gentle reader. That was the sum total of hours it took for the President to raise the white flag to the Amazons of his Administration. In a single day Obama went from, “lets wait and see” to, “cry havoc and let loose the dogs of war!”

One Hundred and seventeen cruise missiles later, those dogs are still ripping through the guts of the Libyan air defenses.  Mind you at over half a million dollars a pop, I thought we could not afford such largess. After all we are gutting our social safety net, and our public employee unions, because in these times of austerity we can’t afford such pleasantries.  Odd that we found a billion dollars, and then some, to lay waste to Libya because we don’t like the tin pot dictator that runs that nation.

But what really sends your faithful reporters’ head spinning is how off-hand and cavalier Obama was in attacking Libya. He signed the order and then went on a South American junket with out even bothering to inform Congress about the radical change in foreign policy. Not a soul in Congress was invited to comment or offer a suggestion. No debate was offered, not even a sloppy kiss or perhaps some flowers. The contempt for Congressional prerogatives shown by the President was jaw-dropping; it was beyond arrogant.

So much for being a co-equal branch of government. So much for consultation. So much for reaching a consensus via compromise. Hillary Clinton and few other highly placed women whisper in Obama’s ear, and he goes off to prove his virility by slaying the evil dragon of Gaddafi, and without so much as a mother-may-I to Congress.

The excuse offered by Barack is beyond ludicrous.  No justification by National Interest of the US was offered, because that would manifestly absurd. There was some bizarre mumbles about a humanitarian disaster looming. So in the name of saving lives our air and naval forces caused death and destruction amongst the innocent Libyan civilians who had the bad luck to live near the targeted military sites. Then there is the small matter of US non-involvement in preventing, or mitigating, the well documented slaughter in Darfur, Rwanda and Burma. I guess some humanitarian crises are more equal than others. It appears that theoretical humanitarian disasters trump real humanitarian disasters; at least in Obama world.

There are some rumbles of discontent from the odd Congress-critters. The Speaker is vowing to do something rash, honest, just as soon a Congress reconvenes. Some TEA Party stalwarts are putting heat on John of Orange because only Republican Presidents can flout the war making prerogatives of Congress. Oh, excuse me, the official cover is that Obama’s move is Unconstitutional. On the left, the usual cast of characters is making the usual yelping noises. Denis Kucinich has mounted his trusty steed to tilt at windmills and there are a few other Lefties who are willing to be his Sancho Panza. Their notion of Impeaching Obama will go nowhere fast. You know Pelosi will squish that notion the way a  well swung 20 pound maul crushes a cockroach.

The reason Obama acted the way he did is because he knows all too well how Congress really works. They will split the difference. They will fence sit. They will wait to see how the military action plays out. They will cover their bets. This is because Congress wants power and all the goodies it offers, but Congress wants none of the responsibilities that power engenders.  It will be disturbing to watch this unhinged performance. Congress critters left, right and center will find just the right verbiage to cover the most likely outcomes. They will be disturbed. They will be off put. They might even be upset by Obama’s lack of consultation. What Congress will not do is make any real move to shut down Operation Odyssey Dawn. They will not use the power of the purse to end that run away freight train.

There will be hearings on the operation. There will be testimony. There will be the shadow play that passes for policy discussion in DC. The political gangs that run the fever swamps of the Potomac will have their carefully choreographed knife fights. The Red gang, the GOP, will try to take political advantage of Obama’s inept handling of foreign affairs. The Blue gang will play defense, and try to justify whatever the Administrations story of the moment may be. Serious discussion of legitimate National Security will never happen, because there is no fun in that. Besides taking a serious stand on what constitutes the National Interest only gets you in trouble, no matter what your political affiliation may be.

Do you really think that TEA Party Nation wants to hear that Muslim bashing, also known as the war on terror, is a very expensive proposition? Do you think that Multiculturalists want to hear that, yes, there is a real conflict between how the West and Islam see the world. Look at the very way the issue is framed. It is not Christendom versus Islam. Dan Carlin is exactly right about this. Modernity has made us secular, has made religion less central to our understanding of the world. For the other people of the book, Islam, religion is still central to their lives.

You will not hear about these things in the Congressional debate. No serious discussion will be forthcoming because the Legislative branch has abdicated responsibility on all matters of substance. They will let the Executive branch do all the heavy lifting. Why consult when your can kibitz? Congress is powerless on matters of war and peace because it prefers it that way. Congress will not act, not even when it is clear that Team Obama is in a dangerous muddle when it comes to Libya. What is the policy? Or rather what is the policy today? No one wants to come to grips of how mission creep will occur, and how that will scotch Team Obama’s promise of a short involvement in Libya. Not. Going. To. Happen. Not even in the movies. The inevitable path, the inevitable logic of Operation Odyssey Dawn is regime change. Say hello to our third war of choice since 9/11. Say hello to another reason the Arab Street is going to go ballistic. Say hello to a totally feckless Congress doing nothing about this. Congress is War Powerless.
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