March 2011

JFP 3/31- Rogers: no sign-off on arming rebels; Brotherhood: we'll break Gaza siege

Just Foreign Policy News
March 31, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

Contrary to the President's Speech, Removal of Qaddafi Is the Military Objective
In his speech, the President claimed that the military mission in Libya has a narrow objective of protecting civilians. But a report in the New York Times on the Administration's strategy shows that's not true: the objective of the military mission is to bomb the Libyan army until it forces Qaddafi to leave.
http://www.truth-out.org/contrary-president-removal-qaddafi-is-military-objective68859

Matt Southworth: Libyan no-fly zone: addressing questions and dispelling myths
The problems in Libya are political problems that cannot be solved with military force.
http://fcnl.org/blog/of_peace_and_politics/libyan_no-fly_zone_addressing_questions_and_dispelling_myths/index.html

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ICG Calls for Ceasefire, End to "Assault on Normal, Dignified Life" in Gaza, and Hamas Engagement

The following post also appeared on the Mondoweiss blog here.

The International Crisis Group (ICG) issued a warning that the recent escalation of air strikes on Gaza and rocket attacks into Israel has created “the conditions for a rapid deterioration toward the kind of clash to which neither side aspires, for which both [Israel and Hamas] have carefully prepared, and from which they will not retreat quickly.”

In June of last year, I had a glimpse of the destruction wrought during Israel's 'Cast Lead' military offensive on the Gaza Strip and Palestinian militants' barrages of rocket fire into Israel.  Even back then I met Israelis and Palestinians who were gravely concerned about a renewal of hostilities with catastrophic consequences. As the ICG report illustrates, the "combustible context" of the present circumstances necessitates 1) an immediate and comprehensive ceasefire between Israel and Hamas 2) an end to the closure regime on Gaza which constitutes an "assault on normal, dignified life" and 3) Palestinian reconciliation efforts should be supported, which will "require a different approach by international actors, Western countries in particular" to Hamas. 

JFP 3/30: Hillary - "arming rebels" = "protecting civilians"

Just Foreign Policy News
March 30, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

Contrary to the President's Speech, Removal of Qaddafi Is the Military Objective
In his speech, the President claimed that the military mission in Libya has a narrow objective of protecting civilians. But a report in the New York Times on the Administration's strategy shows that's not true: the objective of the military mission is to bomb the Libyan army until it forces Qaddafi to leave.
http://www.truth-out.org/contrary-president-removal-qaddafi-is-military-objective68859

Video: Dennis Kucinich: American Democracy is the Critical Issue

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JFP 3/29: Military Mission in Libya Flips to Regime Change

Just Foreign Policy News
March 29, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

Contrary to the President's Speech, Removal of Qaddafi Is the Military Objective
In his speech, the President claimed that the military mission in Libya has a narrow objective of protecting civilians. But a report in the New York Times on the Administration's strategy shows that's not true: the objective of the military mission is to bomb the Libyan army until it forces Qaddafi to leave.
http://www.truth-out.org/contrary-president-removal-qaddafi-is-military-objective68859

Rolling Stone: The Kill Team
How U.S. soldiers in Afghanistan murdered innocent civilians and mutilated their corpses - and how their officers failed to stop them. http://www.rollingstone.com/politics/news/the-kill-team-20110327

FAIR Action Alert: On Libya, NewsHour Looks Like State TV

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Contrary to the President, Removal of Qaddafi is the Military Objective

The most important content of Presidential speeches is often what they don't say. Here are some things that President Obama didn't say about Libya in his speech last night.

The President did not answer his critics who asked why he took America into war without authorization by Congress. This question was made sharper on Sunday when Jake Tapper of ABC asked Defense Secretary Gates,

"Do you think Libya posed an actual or imminent threat to the United States?"

"No, no," was Gates' reply. "It was not - it was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about."

The significance of Tapper's question was that Tapper used the exact language that Obama used as a candidate for President in describing the limits of the authority of the President under the Constitution to initiate hostilities without Congressional authorization:

 

"The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."

Apparently Defense Secretary Gates does not think that the situation in Libya met the standard that candidate Obama set in December 2007 for acting without Congressional authorization.

JFP 3/28: Italy pushes Libya deal; Gates says US was not threatened

Just Foreign Policy News
March 28, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

Letter to Liberal Supporters of the Libya War
The decision by the Administration to go to war in Libya without Congressional authorization represents a long-term threat to the U.S. peace movement, because Congress is a key arena in which the peace movement tries to influence U.S. policy towards less war. A weakening of Congressional war powers means a weakening of the ability of the peace movement to prevent future wars.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/an-open-letter-to-liberal_b_841505.html

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U.S./Top News

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An Open Letter to Liberal Supporters of the Libya War

Middle East historian and blogger Juan Cole recently wrote a polemic against progressive U.S. critics of the new U.S. war in Libya. In his polemic, he wrote, "I hope we can have a calm and civilized discussion of the rights and wrongs here."

I strongly agree with Juan that it is important for progressive critics of U.S. foreign policy to try to have a calm and civilized discussion about the issues that have been raised by the U.S. military intervention in Libya. In general, it's important to try to have calm and civilized discussions about all issues of public policy, even when - especially when - the underlying issues are matters of life and death. The alternative is nasty polemics, and a principal effect of nasty polemics is to exclude people from discussion who don't want to engage in nasty polemics. In this way the effect of nasty polemics is anti-democratic; nasty polemics tend to demobilize people and cause them to disengage, when what we need is the opposite: more engagement and more mobilization.

In this particular case, the decision of the Obama Administration to engage the country in a new Middle East war without Congressional authorization represents a long-term threat to the U.S. peace movement, because the U.S. peace movement is engaged in a long struggle to try to influence U.S. policy in the direction of less war, and Congress is a key arena in which the peace movement tries to assert influence over U.S. policy. If you take away power from Congress to determine issues of war and peace, you substantially reduce the power of the U.S. peace movement to influence issues of war and peace. Taking away Congressional war powers is to the peace movement like taking away collective bargaining is to the labor movement: a direct threat to our ability to move our agenda on behalf of our constituents.

JFP 3/25: Obama's Unconstitutional War; NATO kills two civilians

Just Foreign Policy News
March 25, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

The Upcoming Congressional Debate on Libya Is Key
President Obama has dropped a bomb on the War Powers Resolution. It's essential for future efforts to constrain the war-making of Presidents that Congress push back. There are plenty of things Congress can do: explicitly prohibit the introduction of ground forces, prohibit the overflight of Libya by US planes, establish a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces, place a cap on what the Administration can spend. There are plenty of good historical precedents, including the efforts to limit the Clinton Administration's wars in Yugoslavia.
http://www.truth-out.org/when-house-comes-back-youre-gonna-get-in-trouble68729

Francis Boyle: UN Resolution on Libya Allows Invasion
Professor of international law Francis Boyle stresses that while the UN Security Council resolution expressly forbids a "foreign occupation force," it does not prohibit an "invading force."

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JFP 3/24: Arab opinion turning on Libya war

Just Foreign Policy News
March 24, 2011

*Action: Pressure Congress to Debate Libya
Whatever one thinks of the ongoing U.S. military intervention in Libya, President Obama has set a dangerous precedent by embarking on a major military operation in Libya without Congressional authorization. Eight Members of the House have brought forward H. Con. Res. 31, a bi-partisan resolution affirming that the President must obtain specific statutory authorization for the use of U.S. armed forces in Libya. Ask your Representative to join them in affirming that U.S. military action in Libya must have Congressional authorization.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/debatelibya

When the House Comes Back, You're Gonna Get in Trouble
President Obama has dropped a bomb on the War Powers Resolution. It's essential for Congress to push back. There are plenty of things Congress can do: explicitly prohibit the introduction of ground forces, prohibit the overflight of Libya by US planes, establish a timetable for the withdrawal of US forces, place a cap on what the Administration can spend. There are plenty of good historical precedents, including the efforts to limit the Clinton Administration's wars in Yugoslavia.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/when-the-house-comes-back_b_840155.html

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The opponents of peace and diplomacy work every day. Help us be an effective counterweight.
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When the House Comes Back, You're Gonna Get In Trouble

Here is some unsolicited advice for the Obama Administration: you essentially have four days to put US involvement in the Libya war on a path that doesn't look like open-ended quagmire.

Otherwise, when the House comes back next week, you're going to get in trouble.

Many people have difficulty imagining the possibility that Congress could give the Obama Administration difficulty over the Libya war. Since 2001, many people think, Congress has rolled over for both the Bush and Obama Administrations on questions of war and peace. Why should now be any different?

The view that Congress has only rolled over misses important history. For example, the legislative fight over a timetable for withdrawal from Iraq was a significant contributor to the fact that we have such a timetable for withdrawal today, even though such a timetable was never enacted legislatively. Congress lost the issue legislatively, but eventually won the issue politically.

But the more important point here that many people aren't thinking about yet is that the political dynamics of the coming debate over the Libya war could be very different from the debates over Iraq and Afghanistan. If the Libya war is going full-bore next week with heavy US involvement, there could be significant opposition in Congress, especially in the House, from both Democrats and Republicans.