By Jasper, William F.
The New American , Vol. 27, No. 8
Obama, Barack--Military policy
United Nations--Military policy
Libya International Military Intervention, 2011--Management
Libya International Military Intervention, 2011--Forecasts and trends
American Military Assistance--Analysis
President of the United States--Foreign Policy
President of the United States--Military Policy
Is Libya one quagmire too far? The United Nations Security Council's passage of a resolution on March 17 imposing a no-fly zone over Libya is forcing us to confront the issue of imperial over-reach, a madness that has been the downfall of many a once-great nation. On March 19, President Obama committed U.S. naval and air assets to "playing a supportive role" to what is, ostensibly, a European-led military initiative. In a meeting at the White House before his public announcement of support for the UN actions, President Obama assured congressional leaders that our participation in the no-fly enforcement would not lead to the deployment of American troops on the ground in Libya.
We've heard those kinds of assurances many times before. Think: "Iraq will be a cake walk"; "Mission accomplished!"; "They'll welcome us as saviors"; "We'll be in and out in no time." But, our involvement in the no-fly enforcement doesn't have to lead to U.S. troops on the ground in Tripoli to be monumentally, or even fatally, dangerous.
How many quagmires can the United States step into and still survive? And how do we calculate and define "survival"? The most immediate calculations usually deal with considering the economic and military costs: Can our economy sustain the trillion-dollar costs of multiple wars and can our overstretched armed forces sustain multiple global engagements while still providing for our national security?
Those are critically important considerations. We are trillions of dollars in debt and deep in a recession. We are bogged down in two "hot" wars in Iraq and Afghanistan-Pakistan, and we have hundreds of thousands of troops spread across the globe, stationed in more than 100 countries.
Equally important, however, are matters concerning just how long any tattered vestiges of our limited constitutional Republic will remain under the conditions of a permanent warfare state. The White House (under both Republicans and Democrats) has become more and more habituated to engaging in military ventures without a congressional declaration of war, as required by our Constitution. And Congress and the American people have become inured to these usurpations, almost accepting them without question, as long as they are couched in the Orwellian appeals to "support the troops, "support democracy," and "fight terrorism." Our constitutional limitations on the central government are being sucked down into the quagmires along with our economy and our military. If not reversed, we will soon have no protections against omnipotent government at home, at which point any possible dangers posed by al-Qaeda, the Taliban, or any other terrorists would be infinitesimal by comparison.
As usual, one of the few sane voices in Congress challenging this mad rush toward disaster is Rep. Ron Paul (R-Texas), who went to the floor of the House on March 11 to speak out against the illegal, immoral, unconstitutional, and economically suicidal proposal to engage the U.S. military in support of this UN Security Council objective.
Rep. Paul also set forth his opposition to the Libyan fiasco in his March 14 Texas Straight Talk column, wherein he noted:
This week I will introduce a concurrent resolution in the House to remind my colleagues and the administration that Congress alone, not the president, decides when to go to war. It is alarming how casually the administration talks about initiating acts of war, as though Article 1 Section 8 of the Constitution does not exist. Frankly, it is not up to the President whether or not we intervene in Libya, or set up "no-fly" zones, or send troops. At least, it is not if we follow the Constitution. Even by the loose standards of the War Powers Resolution, which cedes far too much power to the president, he would have no authority to engage in hostilities because we have not been attacked--not by Gaddafi, and not by the rebels. …