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Congress Must Debate the Libya War

The U.S. is now at war in a third Muslim country, according to the "official tally" (that is, counting Iraq, Afghanistan and Libya but not Pakistan or Yemen, for example.) But Congress has never authorized or debated the U.S. military intervention in Libya. (A sharply disputed claim holds that the Pakistan and Yemen actions are covered by the 2001 authorization of military force, but no-one has dared to argue that the 2001 AUMF covers Libya.)

Some will no doubt claim that the President is acting in Libya within his authority as Commander-in-Chief. But this is an extremely dangerous claim.

To put it crudely: as a matter of logic, if President Obama can bomb Libya without Congressional authorization, then President Palin can bomb Iran without Congressional authorization. If, God forbid, we ever get to that fork in the road, you can bet your bottom dollar that the advocates of bombing Iran will invoke Congressional silence now as justification for their claims of unilateral Presidential authority to bomb anywhere, anytime.

Some Members of Congress have strongly objected to President Obama's bombing of Libya without Congressional approval.

On the Democratic side, John Larson, chair of the Democratic Caucus in the House, called for President Obama to seek congressional approval. Reps. Jerrold Nadler, Donna Edwards, Mike Capuano, Dennis Kucinich, Maxine Waters, Rob Andrews, Sheila Jackson Lee, Barbara Lee and Eleanor Holmes Norton "all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president's actions" during a Saturday call organized by Larson, the Politico reports.

 

JFP 3/18: UN authorization of force limited to civilian protection; Aristide returns

Just Foreign Policy News
March 18, 2011

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is live-blogging Aristide's return:
Live Blog: Aristide Returns to Haiti
http://www.cepr.net/index.php/blogs/relief-and-reconstruction-watch/live-blog-aristide-returns-to-haiti

Reuters Factbox: Haiti's Aristide a champion of poor reviled by elite
Some facts about former President Aristide.
http://www.reuters.com/article/2011/03/18/us-haiti-aristide-factbox-idUSTRE72H67H20110318

The UN Security Council Has Not Authorized Regime Change in Libya
It's a good thing that the Obama Administration has resisted calls for unilateral U.S. military action in Libya, and instead is working through the United Nations Security Council, as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter. Now, the Administration needs to follow through on this commitment to international law by ensuring that foreign military intervention remains within the four corners of what the UN Security Council has approved: protection of civilians, not regime change.
http://www.truth-out.org/the-un-security-council-has-not-authorized-regime-change-libya68587

Washington Smackdown: Petraeus vs. "Substantial Drawdown"
A substantial drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would save many American and Afghan lives and tens of billions of dollars. It would open political space in Afghanistan for a negotiated political resolution that ends the civil war.

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The UN Security Council Has Not Authorized Regime Change in Libya

It's a great thing that the Obama Administration has resisted calls for unilateral U.S. military action in Libya, and instead is working through the United Nations Security Council, as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter.

Now, the Administration needs to follow through on this commitment to international law by ensuring that foreign military intervention remains within the four corners of what the UN Security Council has approved. If it does not, and instead Western powers take the view that we now have a blank check to do whatever we want, the certain consequence will be that it will be much more difficult to achieve Security Council action in a similar situation in the future, and those who complain that the Security Council is too cautious will have only themselves to blame.

Some of the reporting on the Security Council resolution has been misleading. The Security Council has not authorized military action for any purpose. The Security Council has authorized military action necessary to protect civilians. It has not authorized military action to overthrow the Libyan government. Clearly, some people do want foreign military action to assist in the overthrow of the Libyan government, but such action has not been approved by the Security Council.

The text of the UN Security Council resolution can be found here.

Here is the first action item:

 

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JFP 3/17: House debates Afghanistan; Aristide on his way home

Just Foreign Policy News
March 17, 2011

Petraeus: Kucinich-Jones-Paul Resolution Today Would Give Osama the Victory
Testifying before Congress about the resolution before Congress today to withdraw troops by the end of the year, General Petraeus invoked the Osama Defense: "The Taliban and al-Qaida obviously would trumpet this as a victory, as a success," Petraeus said.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/petraeus-kucinichjonespau_b_837056.html

Roll Call 193: Directing the President, pursuant to section 5(c) of the War Powers Resolution, to remove the United States Armed Forces from Afghanistan
The vote was 93-321. Among Democrats, 85 -99. Among Republicans, 8-222. A similar measure last year got 65 votes.
http://clerk.house.gov/evs/2011/roll193.xml

Washington Smackdown: Petraeus vs. "Substantial Drawdown"
A substantial drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would save many American and Afghan lives and tens of billions of dollars. It would open political space in Afghanistan for a negotiated political resolution that ends the civil war.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/washington-smackdown-petr_b_836207.html

AP: the plane is in the air

The plane taking former President Aristide back to Haiti has left South Africa.
http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110317/ap_on_re_af/af_south_africa_aristide_19

The Center for Economic and Policy Research is live-blogging Aristide's return:

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JFP 3/16: Reps. Answer Petraeus, Demand Swift Withdrawal, Substantial Drawdown

Just Foreign Policy News
March 16, 2011

*Action: Urge your Rep. to Vote Yes on Kucinich-Jones Afghanistan withdrawal resolution
On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on a resolution introduced by Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones that would require the president to withdraw all U.S. military troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. An amendment last month to the same effect narrowly missed getting a majority of House Democrats.
FCNL has provided a toll free number: 800-530-1748. When talking to your Rep's office, you can also ask them to co-sponsor Rep. Lee's bill which would restrict military funds to being used for a safe and orderly withdrawal.

For a sample script for your call, go to:

http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hconres28-call

Alternatively, you may email your Representative here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/kucinichandlee

Washington Smackdown: Petraeus vs. "Substantial Drawdown"

A substantial drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would save many American and Afghan lives and tens of billions of dollars. It would open political space in Afghanistan for a negotiated political resolution that ends the civil war.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/washington-smackdown-petr_b_836207.html

CISPES: Oppose Pacific Rim's Lawsuit Against El Salvador

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JFP 3/15: 3 in 4 support "substantial drawdown"; House to vote on Afghan withdrawal

Just Foreign Policy News
March 15, 2011

Washington Smackdown: Petraeus vs. "Substantial Drawdown"
A substantial drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan would save many American and Afghan lives and tens of billions of dollars. It would open political space in Afghanistan for a negotiated political resolution that ends the civil war.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/washington-smackdown-petr_b_836207.html

*Action: Urge your Rep. to Vote Yes on Kucinich-Jones Afghanistan withdrawal resolution
On Thursday, the House is expected to vote on a resolution introduced by Dennis Kucinich and Walter Jones that would require the president to withdraw all U.S. military troops from Afghanistan by the end of this year. An amendment last month to the same effect narrowly missed getting a majority of House Democrats.
FCNL has provided a toll free number: 800-530-1748. If you use this number to call the Capitol Switchboard, FCNL will be able to say, "X number of people called." When talking to your Rep's office, you can also ask them to sign Rep. Lee's "substantial drawdown" letter.

*Action: Write your Rep. to sign the bipartisan "significant July drawdown" letter
54 Reps. have signed a letter being circulated by Barbara Lee's office, urging President Obama to follow through on his promise of a July drawdown of troops from Afghanistan with a significant withdrawal. Many Reps. who recently voted to cut funding for the war have yet to sign the Lee letter. Urge your Rep. to sign. The letter is expected to close Wednesday.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/leeletter

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Washington Smackdown: Petraeus vs. "Substantial Drawdown"

Gen. David Petraeus spoke today before the Senate Armed Services Committee, and is speaking tomorrow before the House Armed Services Committee, selling Congress a "progress" story about the war in Afghanistan that isn't believed by US intelligence analysts. Whether Members of Congress choose to believe Petraeus' reassurances over the assessments of the U.S. intelligence community ("who you gonna believe, me or your lying eyes?") could prove decisive in determining whether the July drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan that President Obama has promised will be "token," as the Pentagon wants, or is "substantial," as the overwhelming majority of Americans want. The stakes are high: a substantial drawdown of U.S. forces from Afghanistan this year would save many American and Afghan lives and tens of billions of dollars, and would open political space in Afghanistan for a negotiated political settlement that ends the civil war.

The Los Angeles Times reported:

 

When Gen. David H. Petraeus appears before Congress on Tuesday to tout progress in Afghanistan, he will face a series of pessimistic assessments about the state of the war, including the intelligence community's conclusion that tactical gains achieved by a U.S. troop surge have failed to fundamentally weaken the Taliban.

At a hearing last week,

 

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JFP 3/14: Karzai slams US military operations; Saudi troops enter Bahrain

Just Foreign Policy News
March 14, 2011

*Action: Urge your Rep. to sign the bipartisan "significant July drawdown" letter
54 Reps. have signed a letter being circulated by Barbara Lee's office, urging President Obama to follow through on his promise of a July drawdown of troops from Afghanistan with a significant withdrawal. Many Reps. who recently voted to cut funding for the war have yet to sign the Lee letter. Urge your Rep. to sign. The letter is expected to close Wednesday.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/leeletter

*Action: Lee bill for military withdrawal from Afghanistan
H.R.780 stipulates that funds for operations of U.S. forces in Afghanistan will be spent only for providing safe and orderly withdrawal of U.S. forces.
Check to see if your Rep. has co-sponsored; ask them to co-sponsor if they haven't.
You can view the cosponsors here
http://thomas.loc.gov/cgi-bin/bdquery/z?d112:HR00780:@@@P
You can ask your Rep. to co-sponsor here:
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/hr780

Al Jazeera video: Arab League passes contradictory resolutions on Libya
The Arab League endorsed calls for the UN to impose a no-fly zone over Libya. But the Arab League also opposed foreign military intervention. Al Jazeera's correspondent examines the obvious contradiction. [Note: text at the link claims the league "reportedly decided to recognize a rebel council as the representative of the Libyan people," but this claim is contradicted by other press reports - JFP.]
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=AOMHvdZE5G0

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JFP 3/11: Aristide Return "Imminent"; Threat of Trial Keeps Gadhafi Fighting

Just Foreign Policy News
March 11, 2011

*Action: Urge your Rep. to sign the bipartisan "significant July drawdown" letter
So far, 54 Reps. have signed a letter being circulated by Barbara Lee's office, urging President Obama to follow through on his promise of a July drawdown of troops from Afghanistan with a significant withdrawal. Urge your Rep. to sign.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/leeletter

"No-Fly Zone"? Senator Kerry, the UN Charter Is Supreme Law
A no-fly zone in Libya, if it is not authorized by the UN Security Council, would violate the UN Charter. The framers of the UN Charter gave this power to the Security Council for a reason: to ensure that military force would only be authorized with broad consent. The Security Council should use its leverage to press for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict that recognizes the interests of all the stakeholders in Libya.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/no-fly-zone-senator-kerry_b_833060.html

Action: Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to oppose a unilateral U.S. military intervention in Libya
Unilateral U.S. military action without UN Security Council authorization would be a grave violation of the UN Charter. As U.S. military officials have pointed out, the imposition of a "no-fly zone" would not be "bloodless": it would be preceded by extensive bombing of Libya's anti-aircraft facilities. Such bombing would almost certainly cause civilian casualties. As Defense Secretary Gates has said, the last thing the U.S. needs is a war in another Muslim country. Urge the White House and your representatives to oppose a unilateral U.S. military intervention.

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JFP 3/10: Obama vows to resist Libya pressure; Karzai cousin killed in night raid

Just Foreign Policy News
March 10, 2011

"No-Fly Zone"? Senator Kerry, the UN Charter Is Supreme Law
It's one thing for Senator McCain to engage in what Defense Secretary Gates called "loose talk" about U.S. military intervention in Libya. It's far more damaging for Senator Kerry to do it. Of course, Kerry voted yes on the Iraq war in 2002, and in August 2004 said he stood by his vote. Kerry was wrong then and is wrong now; a no-fly zone in Libya, if it is not authorized by the UN Security Council, would violate the UN Charter. The framers of the UN Charter gave this power to the Security Council for a reason: to ensure that military force would only be authorized with broad consent. The Security Council should use its leverage to press for a diplomatic resolution of the conflict that recognizes the interests of all the stakeholders in Libya.
http://www.huffingtonpost.com/robert-naiman/no-fly-zone-senator-kerry_b_833060.html

Action: Urge President Obama and Members of Congress to oppose a unilateral U.S. military intervention in Libya
Unilateral U.S. military action without UN Security Council authorization would be a grave violation of the UN Charter. As U.S. military officials have pointed out, the imposition of a "no-fly zone" would not be "bloodless": it would be preceded by extensive bombing of Libya's anti-aircraft facilities. Such bombing would almost certainly cause civilian casualties. As Defense Secretary Gates has said, the last thing the U.S. needs is a war in another Muslim country. Urge the White House and your representatives to oppose a unilateral U.S. military intervention.
http://www.justforeignpolicy.org/act/nobombsforlibya

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