Libya war

President Obama: Don't Strike Syria Without Congressional Approval

On Sunday, Republican Sen. Bob Corker and Rep. Eliot Engel - a Democrat who voted for the Iraq war - told Fox News that President Obama should strike Syria first and get Congressional approval afterwards.

The Latest on Amendments on the Defense Appropriations Bill

UPDATE ON 3 KEY VOTES WE HIGHLIGHTED IN DEFENSE APPROPS DEBATE:

Rep. Conyers' amendment to prohibit funds for ground troops in Libya, "unless the purpose of such deployment is solely to rescue members of the United States Armed Forces", was approved by voice vote!

Rep. Lee's amendment to cut funds for the war in Afghanistan failed by 97-322. Find out how your member voted here.

Rep. Kucinich-Amash amendment to cut all funds for the war in Libya failed by 199-229. Find out how your member voted here.

The Defense Appropriations bill as a whole was passed 336-87.

Below is a list of votes on other amendments to the Defense Appropriations bill relevant to the wars and Pentagon spending, provided by Council for a Livable World.

LIBYA WAR VOTES:

Rep. Cole (R-OK) amdt: “None of the funds made available by this Act may be used by the Department of Defense to furnish military equipment, military training or advice, or other support for military activities, to any group or individual, not part of a country's armed forces, for the purpose of assisting that group or individual in carrying out military activities in or against Libya.”
Approved 225-201

Rep. Gohmert (R-TX) amdt: Limits spending on Libya operations. None of the funds made available by this Act may be obligated, expended, or used in any manner to support military operations, including NATO or United Nations operations in Libya or in Libya's airspace.
Defeated 162-265

Libya and War Powers: Offered by Sherman (D-CA): bars spending that violates the War Powers Act, which, according to Sherman, would limit the Administration from spending on any military activities not currently underway. On June 13, the House voted 248-163 for a similar Sherman (D-CA) amendment to the Military Construction appropriations bill.
Approved 316-111

Kucinich Calls the Question on Libya War Powers

Last week, voting on amendments on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives began taking action to limit U.S. military involvement in Libya's civil war.

Now the House leadership has agreed to a vote on House Concurrent Resolution 51, introduced by Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich, which would direct the President, pursuant to the War Powers Resolution, to remove U.S. armed forces from the Libya war. The vote could come as early as Wednesday afternoon.

The U.S. military intervention in Libya was never authorized by Congress, and thus violates U.S. law and the U.S. Constitution.

Some have argued that other Presidents have violated the War Powers Resolution, therefore it is no big deal. This is a breathtaking argument on its face: "everyone breaks the law." But moreover, as the New York Times noted on May 25:

 

many presidents, citing their power as commander in chief, have bypassed a section that says they need prior Congressional authorization to deploy forces into hostilities, except if the country is under attack. But there is far less precedent of presidents' challenging another section that says they must terminate any still-unauthorized operations after 60 days. In 1980, the Justice Department concluded that the deadline was constitutional. [my emphasis]

On May 20, the New York Times reported, referring to the 1980 Justice Department memorandum,

 

Asserting War Powers, House Moves To End Afghanistan, Libya Wars

Voting on amendments on the 2012 National Defense Authorization Act, the House of Representatives took action to hasten the end of the wars in Afghanistan and Libya.

Afghanistan

By a 204-215 vote [roll call] - six switchers would have passed the amendment - the House narrowly failed to adopt a bipartisan amendment from Reps. Jim McGovern [D-MA] and Justin Amash [R-MI] that would have required the Department of Defense to develop a plan for an "accelerated transition of military operations to Afghan authorities."

It may seem counter-intuitive to count narrowly failing to adopt an amendment as "taking an action," but in terms of consequences, it is taking action. Getting more than 200 votes sends a signal to the White House: if you don't move - for example, by announcing a significant drawdown of U.S. troops from Afghanistan this summer - you could lose the next vote in the House. And if the Administration lost a vote in the House on the Afghanistan war, you can bet that would be front-page news in Europe, weakening the Administration's case to the Europeans for continuing the status quo. It seems likely that the Administration will want to stay one step ahead of the House, rather than face a public defeat. That points toward an accelerated drawdown this year.

If 204 Members were willing to vote yes, it seems extremely likely that 6 House Members who voted no gave a yes vote serious consideration. Indeed, The Hill reports:

 

A Vote on the People's Budget is a Vote on the Wars

The House of Representatives is expected to vote soon, perhaps by tomorrow morning, on the People's Budget put forward by the Congressional Progressive Caucus.

A vote in favor of the People's Budget is a vote against the endless wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, because the People's Budget would end the wars.

In particular, the People's Budget would end emergency war funding beginning in FY 2013:

 

End emergency war funding beginning in FY 2013 The CBO baseline assumes that all discretionary funding--including emergency war funding--grows with inflation (from a starting point of $159 billion in 2011) when projecting future discretionary spending. Eliminating all emergency defense funding starting in 2012 would save $674 billion over 2012-16 and $1.6 trillion over 2012-21 relative to this baseline.

Furthermore, the People's Budget would cut the "base" military budget (that is, the "not for the current wars" or "future wars" military budget.) It would:

 

How Many Should Die To Send Qaddafi to the Hague?

Here is a question I would like pollsters to ask American voters about the Libya War:

Is sending Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court a military objective worth having American troops "fight and possibly die" for?

I haven't seen any pollster ask this question. Indeed, the fact that sending Qaddafi to the Hague is a de facto military goal of the United States in Libya isn't even being clearly acknowledged yet in the U.S. media.

However, we can make an educated guess what he response might be, because a Quinnipiac University poll recently asked some questions that are closely related. Voters say 61 - 30 percent that removing Qaddafi from power is not worth having American troops "fight and possibly die" for, the poll reports. They say 48 - 41 percent that the U.S. should not use military force to remove Qaddafi from power. Furthermore, 74 percent of voters are "very concerned" or "somewhat concerned" that the U.S. will get embroiled in a long-term military conflict in Libya.

This strongly suggests that if American voters were asked, is sending Qaddafi to the International Criminal Court a military objective worth having American troops "fight and possibly die" for, more than 61% would say no and fewer than 30 percent would say yes. Because sending Qaddafi to the Hague is a military objective that includes removing Qaddafi and more.

Yet, with a super-majority of Americans opposed and without Congressional authorization, that is what we are doing: fighting a war to remove Qaddafi from power and send him to the Hague.

It's very likely that you wouldn't know this if your only source of information were the U.S. press, which hasn't been reporting on the divisions among US allies on what an acceptable agreement to end the war would be. But the British press is reporting it.

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.