The War That Wasn’t

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Republican Senator John McCain glimpses “a bit of partisanship” behind much of his party’s opposition to the president’s Libyan campaign, while GOP Senator Lindsey Graham advises that “Congress should sort of shut up” about the venture to oust Qaddafi. Democrat Dennis Kucinich is suing the Obama administration over Libya and favorably juxtaposes the last president with his successor: “President Bush came to Congress…. President Obama doesn’t feel like he needs to come to Congress.”  This wasn’t what Arthur Vandenberg had in mind when he observed that politics stops at the water’s edge. But the weakness of traditional partisan alliances when it comes to the Libyan campaign infuses new meaning into the Michigan senator’s aphorism.

If Boehner regards the legal justifications in the 32-page White House as unintentional comedy, then other aspects of “United States Activities in Libya” may strike him as perplexing, as well. The report confidently says that Libya’s Transitional National Council (TNC), a body less than six months old, has “dedicated itself to paving the way for an inclusive, democratic process” and seeks “to build a democracy that reflects the will of the Libyan people.” The tone is less certain in discounting connections between the TNC and terrorist organizations: “We are not aware of any direct relationship between the TNC and al Qaeda, Hezbollah, the Libya Islamic Fighting Group (LIFG) or any other terrorist organization.” The report strangely describes Egypt and Tunisia, despite uncertainty in the wake of revolutions just months ago, as “key U.S. allies.”

The administration outlines the costs for military operations through June 3 at $715.9 million dollars. This includes personnel pay, expended munitions, supplies, and the operation of aircraft. With 112 tomahawk missiles at more than $1 million each fired on the mission’s first day, and an F-15 with a pricetag approaching $100 million lost to mechanical failure a few days later, expenses of $715.9 seem remarkably low. Could the administration be writing off war-related expenses to existing Department of Defense outlays to hide costs?

It may seem indecent not to take the administration at its word. But this is a president who calls a war a “military operation” divorced from “hostilities.” One so cynical in his use of words might be inclined to manipulate numbers, as well.

Daniel J. Flynn is the author of Blue Collar Intellectuals: How the Enlightened and the Everyman Elevated America, forthcoming this fall from ISI Books, 2011. He writes a Monday column for Human Events and blogs at

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  • zsqpwxxeh

    Obama is not just ignoring the War Powers Act; he's also ignoring the UN Security Council Resolution that authorizes only air operations in Libya to protect civilians. The reality that the Administration hardly even bothers to try to conceal is that we are intervening on one side in a civil war, i.e. trying to effect Regime Change. It's a sort of Enhanced Kinetic Duplicity (or EKD) lie.

    This EKD comes with an enhanced creamy filling: namely, that the insurgent forces are jihadists rebelling in the name of Allah. When they finally manage to take Tripoli with Infidel Pig air support (IPAS) and hang Q, they will set up a Muslim Brotherhood government, resume oil shipments and the suspended nuclear program, establish links with other Islamist regimes, and…you can guess the rest.

    Elections have consequences. Yep, they sure do.

  • Rifleman

    What do you expect from people who debate the meaning of the word "is"? Hussein flat out ignores the law when it suits him, and court rulings that go against him.

  • Dispozovdaburka

    "The 3rd World War must be fomented by taking advantage of the differences caused by the 'agentur' of the "Illuminati" between the political Zionists and the leaders of the Islamic World. The war must be conducted in such a way that Islam and political Zionism (Israel) mutually destroy each other…We shall unleash the nihilists and the atheists and we shall provoke a great social cataclysm which in all its horror will show clearly to all nations the effect of absolute atheism; the origins of savagery and of most bloody turmoil"

  • Dispozovdaburka

    "Then everywhere, the people will be forced to defend themselves against the world minority of the world revolutionaries and will exterminate those destroyers of civilization and the multitudes disillusioned with Christianity whose spirits will be from that moment without knowledge whre to send its adoration, will receive the true light through the universal manifestation of the pure doctrine of Lucifer brought finally out into public view. Amanifestation which will result from a general reactionary movement which will follow the destruction ot Christianity and Atheism, both conquered and extrerminated at the same time." Albert Pike 1860's NWO Secrets of Freemasonry – Michael Bradley

    • welldoneson

      Wow, Dipalphabet, your two posts seem more like a random collection of consonants and vowels than they do anything sensible. And your apparent point (I guess), that incoherent claptrap from 150 years ago is in any way relevant, is a joke.
      Your reference to "illuminati", "NWO", and "Freemasonry" are particularly clinical.
      I'm sure actual Masons would be the first to reference you to a good doctor.
      On the positive side, your "dispose of the burka" 'nym smacks faintly of a good idea.

  • Deus Ex Nada

    Huh, wasn't Vietnam – called a "police action" for political purposes?

    • tagalog

      The U.S. presence in Vietnam was, at first, in the form of U.S. Army "advisors," who were not authorized to engage in combat while advising South Vietnamese forces, and who, as a result, sometimes got shot. Once our "advisors" got shot, President Kennedy authorized them to shoot back in self-defense. Of course, that meant they just shot back. There was quite a fuss over that, that played itself out in Congress and publicly in the news. Of course, once our troops started shooting back, we were fully engaged in a shooting war on the ground. Then we brought in the Marines to guard the air base at Da Nang, and the ensuing escalation of that war is, of course, history.

      • welldoneson

        Vietnam was only one of many examples that show Politicians shouldn't be entitled to bark orders to the military. The minute a Pol "orders" the military to adhere to ridiculous "rules of engagement" the military should be able to say "sorry, no can do" and simply withdraw. Too many of our best guys have been killed because of such politics.

  • tagalog

    If Congress and the President disagree on whether or not what's going on in Libya constitutes "hostilities" for purposes of the War Powers Act, let Congress vote to refuse to fund the U.S.'s role in NATO efforts to unseat Quaddafi, and let the President take what constitutional steps are available to him to get the funds released.

  • BLJ

    Never let a bunch of commie lawyers run a military operation (in this case an illegal one at that).

  • Fred Dawes

    War will come here within 5 years it will kill millions.

    • welldoneson

      It might take that for the left to stop their snivelling about "sending troops to fight on foreign soil". I wonder what these functionally lobotomized magpies will say then?
      Maybe "we have no right to fight, our enemy have legitimate grievances (TM)"
      Or "this is just blowback from those wars we (the left) said we shouldn't fight"?

      • Jim_C

        I think what we'll say is you are still clinically delusional.

        And when it doesn't happen, you'll come back and apologize for being so dumb, right? Nah, you'll be on to the next boogeyman du jour.

    • tagalog

      When the Senator from South Carolina beats the Senator from Massachusetts (or vice versa) nearly to death on the Senate floor I'll begin to speculate on the possibility of there being a war within the United States; until something like that happens, it's all just talk.

  • dawning

    I am not a particularly "religious" person but it seems to me that there is shaping up a mega war between "good" and "evil". It looks like socialism and islamism is going to wind up fighting everyone else….Probably not all evil will be on the evil side and not all good will be on the good side….but for the most part…..well you get the picture.

  • samwitwicky

    Revolutions are internal matters of a country … the revolution in Gypto was successful internally … people were not killed, cities were not bombed, war was not raged, outside countries didn’t send their forces … whatever was done … it was within the country and by the people … without outside support … that’s a revolution.

    Look at the massacre they are carrying out in Tibby … you call that a revolution man … you call that an operation for the people?

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