Sunday, March 27, 2011

Libya and Obama

I am loathe to comment on foreign policy and the conduct of war on this blog because it has not been central to the themes I wish to espouse. However, we must remember the centrality of war to the state and the fact that war has been used throughout history to expand its power.

Sun Tzu in the "Art of War," in the section titled Laying Plans writes:
  1. Sun Tzu said: The art of war is of vital importance to the State.
  2. It is a matter of life and death, a road either to safety or to ruin. Hence it is a subject of inquiry which can on no account be neglected.
  3. The art of war, then, is governed by five constant factors, to be taken into account in one's deliberations, when seeking to determine the conditions obtaining in the field.
  4. These are: (1) The Moral Law; (2) Heaven; (3) Earth; (4) The Commander; (5) Method and discipline.
  5. The Moral Law causes the people to be in complete accord with their ruler, so that they will follow him regardless of their lives, undismayed by any danger.

  6. Heaven signifies night and day, cold and heat, times and seasons.
  7. Earth comprises distances, great and small; danger and security; open ground and narrow passes; the chances of life and death.
  8. The Commander stands for the virtues of wisdom, sincerely, benevolence, courage and strictness.
With regards to the situation in Libya, it is now clear that the effort has crossed the line into war. The President is undermining the constitution by failing to make an account of the effort and his failure to invoke the War Powers Act. He has sacrificed a virtue that was important to his election, a pledge to conduct war making in an above board manner consistent with the constitution. Obama has therefore de-legitimized his claim to moral authority. He claimed during the campaign that he showed the good judgment to be against, that was, in his words,
A dumb war. A rash war. A war based not on reason but on passion, not on principle but on politics.
We must ask how the war in Libya differs?

Here is what the War Powers Resolution (I have been calling it the War Powers Act) states:

The constitutional powers of the President as Commander-in-Chief to introduce United States Armed Forces into hostilities, or into situations where imminent involvement in hostilities is clearly indicated by the circumstances, are exercised only pursuant to (1) a declaration of war, (2) specific statutory authorization, or (3) a national emergency created by attack upon the United States, its territories or possessions, or its armed forces.

Clearly, our involvement in Libya has proceeded to a level which falls within the meaning of this law. Speaker Boehner should call upon the President to seek the authorization for the actions he is taking. Otherwise, the Republicans should enjoin the Department of Defense from funding the operations in Libya in the next budget bill.

No comments:

Post a Comment