Category Archives: Just War

Why The Warring About War: What The Moron Media Don’t Explain

Constitution, Just War, libertarianism, War

This past Friday, CNN was festooned with the usual bobbing heads kibitzing about whether or not the administration had committed the country to war or not. The quarreling parties did not explain to the viewers whose brains they addle daily, why this distinction mattered. I doubt they know. I mean, if the president indeed possesses all the powers CNN journos often claim for him—why must their Almighty Mulatto bother to seek consent for his actions? Republicans are pretty much on board when it comes to executive overreach, although they’d prefer their guy to be doing the overreaching.

Here is a typical exchange, times 10 a day:

ELISE LABOTT, CNN GLOBAL AFFAIRS CORRESPONDENT: Is the United States at war with ISIS. It sure sounds from the president’s speech that we are.

JOHN KERRY, U.S. SECRETARY OF STATE: I think that is the wrong terminology.

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Make no mistake. We know we are at war with ISIL.

BURNETT: Is this war?

MCCHRYSTAL: Well, I mean, you can trip over and argue about whether it’s a war for congressional purposes. If you are on the ground and people are getting killed, to a soldier it feels like war and to the population it feels like war. So it’s a struggle.

[SNIP]

And here’s the logical extension of the “to war or not to war” debate, which the Moron Media seems incapable of deducing: It matters whether the president has committed the country to war or not, because:

1) While the power to declare war under various statutes like the War Powers Act, the Iraq Resolution, and the Use of Force Act was shifted to the Executive, to comport with a trend toward centralization of power in this branch—according to these statutes, the War Powers Act, in particular, “he cannot lawfully pursue any military action whatsoever after 180 days.”

2) War declared by executive order may be legal, but it is still unconstitutional. It flouts the obligation to get “the consent of the governed,” to quote the Declaration of Independence.

The libertarian’s duty is to reject the law of the state when it is at odds with natural justice. The process adopted so far by the Bush and Obama executive flouts both the U.S Constitution and the natural law. But Just War principles are for another debate, another time.

As for the Constitution, over to James Madison: “‘Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded.’ Thus it is Congress that declares a war. The U.S. government is beholden to the Constitution, which prohibits the president from declaring war.

Explains Louis Fisher, senior specialist in separation of powers at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress: ‘Keeping the power to commit the country to war—and to all the costs of war—in separate hands from the power to wage war once declared was a bedrock principle for the framers.'”

Modern statutes like the War Powers Resolution, the Iraq Resolution, and the Use of Force Act do not displace the constitutional text and the framers’ intent. (From “UNNATURAL LAWLESSNESS”)


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UPDATED: Standing Armies Are Worse Than Useless (Israeli Major Gen. To US: Pot. Kettle. Black)

Ethics, Israel, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Just War, Middle East, Military

First up today, a think-tanker with the surname of Haas told CNN’s Don Lemon that Hamas kills Israelis and exploits Palestinians. No doubt. However, if given the option—something the dead are not afforded—would I rather be exploited by Hamas or killed by an Israeli bomb? I think you know the answer. (I was unable to locate the interview online.)

Next, this time on Fox News, a gentleman by the name of Adam Ereli, former U.S. ambassador to Bahrain, informed anchor Shepard Smith—and I paraphrase—that too much emphasis is being placed on Palestinian civilian casualties. Really? Are their lives forfeit for the sins of others?

This does not look good for Israel. My sense of this Gaza offensive is that a standing army such as Israel’s is unequipped to deal with guerrilla warfare. Standing armies are fat, lazy, imprecise and careless.

Not much has changed since I wrote, in 2012 (“Standing Armies Commandeered by Cowards”), the following about Israel’s previous futile confrontation with Hamas:

… The fight was started by Hamas. Hamas hides among unwitting civilians, who have no way of controlling its activities. This fact does not give Israel the right to kill innocent non-combatants, not even unintentionally.

Besides, murder is not “unintentional” when you know it is inevitable.

To make matters worse, Gazans are helpless—they are without siren systems to warn them of an impending attack, or bomb shelters in which to hide.

After its 2006 Lebanon fiasco, I proposed that Israel deploy the best of its special-operations units. Israeli commandos such as the “Sayeret Matkal” are trained in surgical strikes, including modern urban counterterrorism operations. “Sayeret” soldiers can trace and neutralize the source of an attack against Israeli civilians sans “collateral damage.”

Yes, what’s the matter with Israel’s Special Operations capabilities? Where are Israel’s precision Pac Men? Did the Israel Defense Forces rain bombs, willy-nilly, on the civilians at the Entebbe Airport—in Uganda, on July 4, 1976—where the Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine held 100 hijacked Jews and Israelis hostage?

Not on your life.

Led by Lt. Col. Yonatan Netanyahu, Bibi Netanyau’s late great brother, 100 members of the “Sayeret” traversed 2,500 miles to rescue their brethren. They killed only those who needed killing.

It used to be that leaders like “Yoni” Netanyahu charged with their men into battle. Not anymore. Nowadays, celebrity, champagne-swilling generals give the order to chubby men in armored machines, who then bomb the anthills from above and afar. …

MORE.

UPDATE: Israeli Major Gen. To US: Pot. Kettle. Black. Retired Major General Amos Yadlin responded to the moralizing of CNN’s Wolf Blitzer brilliantly:

BLITZER: Should Israel, the IDF, be doing more to prevent civilian casualties?

YADLIN: The IDF are doing more than the Americans have done in Fallujah and more than the Americans have done in Germany in the second world war. We are the moralist army in the world. We have a code of conduct that we are allowed to attack only terrorists.

This too is true, but how much does it mean, and is it enough?


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Syria At The Week’s End: Where Do We Stand?

Just War, Middle East, Russia, UN, War

Tuesday, September 10, Barack Obama opened his mouth to say … nothing much at all. On display, in the his meandering message on Syria, was the president’s very elementary thinking—eighth-grade elementary. Why the allusion to the eighth-grade? A Smart Politics study has found that, as measured by the Flesch-Kincaid readability test, the President’s State of the Union messages were written at an eighth-grade level.

On Syria, he stuck to this simplistic formula.

The Abstract: A horrible chemical attack happened in Syria. How do we know that? We saw the videos. Assad did it. How do we know that? Trust us (no need to verify). If we don’t “stand against the use of chemical weapons,” we, Our Allies and The Children will be imperiled forever after. The Argument from Hitler was thrown in for good measure. Iran the evil-doer too. As he rejected the world’s policeman mantle, the president ventured that the US is “the anchor of global security” [what's the difference?] Only the US is up to the task, because we’re special. Think of The Kids. Franklin Roosevelt would have.

The president then paraphrased questions purportedly posed by Americans, the majority of whom oppose the strike, choosing to reply—sort of—to the easiest among them.

Left unanswered was a question like this about The Kids. “If you’re so dead-set against the killing of children that you are willing to send us into yet another conflict,” demanded TV’s Judge Jeanine, in her weekly Opening Statement, “will you guarantee that the 1000-pound Tomahawk missiles that you will heap on Syria won’t kill children—or are they simply your collateral damage? Will the murders of those children be less significant than those we go to avenge?”

The president took full credit for the Russian initiative. As such, it stipulates that, provided the US foreswears the use of force against Syria, Russia will assist in disarming that country of its chemical arsenal. (Next Obama will be taking credit for Dennis Rodman’s inroads in North Korea, or for the basketball player’s road-map for peace with that country: “building trust and understanding through sport and cultural exchanges.”) Syria has joined in insisting that the steroids-pumped president of the US foreswear the use of force against it.

There was also Obama’s likely unintended admission in the address that Libya was his “prolonged air campaign.” At the time, the president used NATO as a fig leaf for that offensive, when the truth was that the U.S. Africa Command was in charge of the mission. By Conor Friedersdorf’s telling, President Obama had authorized CIA agents to liaise with Libyan rebels and supply them with arms.

In Libya, Obama was even in violation of the War Powers Resolution, which in itself is an affront to the constitutional text and the framers’ original intent, as it expanded presidential war-making powers. In the words of James Madison: “Those who are to conduct a war cannot in the nature of things, be proper or safe judges, whether a war ought to be commenced, continued, or concluded.” Explained Louis Fisher, senior specialist in separation of powers at the Congressional Research Service of the Library of Congress: “Keeping the power to commit the country to war—and to all the costs of war—in separate hands from the power to wage war once declared was a bedrock principle for the framers.”

How did Obama violate the statute? Contrast his actions with the relevant section of the Act, courtesy of The Atlantic:

“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.”

Not even under this permissive statute, which blurs red lines America’s Constitution makers drew, is the excursion into Syria legitimate.

Then there is the pesky matter of the evidence. Here the president’s modus operandi in Libya is also instructive. As revealed by Daniel McAdams, in “Humanitarian Wars and Their NGO Foot-Soldiers,” the allegation that “Gaddafi had already killed 6,000 of his own people and was determined to kill many more” was a fiction invented by Soliman Bouchuiguir, the head of the Libyan League for Human Rights, funded in part by the US government’s National Endowment for Democracy (NED).

“Bouchuiguir initiated a petition that was eventually signed by 70 non-governmental organizations (NGOs) demanding that the US, EU, and UN “mobilize the United Nations and the international community and take immediate action to halt the mass atrocities now being perpetrated by the Libyan government against its own people.”

In short succession, “Bouchuiguir’s petition turned into a UN Human Rights Council action, which then turned into a UN Security Council action, which then turned into a NATO [nudge, nudge. wink wink] war on Libya.”

As to Syria, McClatchy was, I believe, first to relay that “German intelligence does not believe Assad sanctioned the alleged attack on August 21.” When the skepticism finally percolated down to the US press, The Washington Times seconded that the “U.S. can’t prove Bashar Assad approved the chemical attacks in Syria.”


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UPDATE II: His Highness’s Collateral Damage

Barack Obama, Foreign Policy, Iraq, Just War, libertarianism, Middle East, Neoconservatism, Republicans

“… And if you’re so dead-set against the killing of children that you are willing to send us into yet another conflict, will you guarantee that the 1000-pound Tomahawk missiles that you will heap on Syria won’t kill children—or are they simply your collateral damage?”

These powerful words were delivered by Judge Jeanine (written, no doubt, by her show’s writers), five minutes and 28 seconds into her weekly Opening Statement.

Judge Jeanine was speaking about the thing no Republican cared about during Iraq: collateral damage.

Let us hope that this wonderful, country wide awakening is no brief jaunt, but a return to an America-First, do-no-harm foreign policy.

Photos: Nine Years of War in Iraq.

UPDATED I (9/8): And “Will the murders of those children be less significant than those we go to avenge?” I failed to transcribe Jeanine’s last clincher. This is the sort of sharp logic missing from most tele-commentary.

UPDATE II: In reply to the thread on Facebook: Other than as an economist, Thomas Sowell is unpersuasive. No serious libertarian should take him seriously on issues of just war. Sowell was full-throttle for the war against Iraq.


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UPDATE III: Shock ‘N Awe For Syria? (Senators Say Onward To Syria)

Foreign Policy, Just War, libertarianism, Media, Middle East, Neoconservatism, Propaganda, Republicans, War

“A non-interventionist does not pretend that he is all knowing,” explained the great, much-missed Ron Paul to the war mongers on CNN (cheerleader Christian Amanpour is seriously aroused at the prospects of shock ‘n awe). Given the US’s dismal record in detecting WMD in faraway lands about which we know NOTHING, Dr. Paul rightly doubts the evidence as to the use of chemical weapons by the Syrian government. Syria is immersed in a civil war, observed Paul, we know nothing about the dynamics there—who’s fighting whom—and Uncle Sam killing more Syrians just because the factions in that country are killing one another will accomplish nothing good.

Van Jones, a former Obama lackey (whom I might just begin to respect on some limited level), seconded Ron Paul’s sentiments. (This just highlights how serious was the failure of Mitt Romney and his surrogates to adopt the libertarian foreign policy so as to galvanize both libertarains and the left to his candidacy.)

Little daylight exists between the Republicans and Democrats in the halls of power. This, in my opinion, will be patently evident in the vote in Congress for Obama’s so-called “strategic” strafing of Syria, as if daisy cutters can be lobbed judiciously.

UPDATE I: Debate, Or Self-Aggrandizing Disquisitions? The “debate” conducted by members of the “Senate Committee Foreign Relations,” better described as the delivery of self-aggrandizing disquisitions, confirms the unanimity of opinion among the people’s so-called representatives—even as most Americans oppose the strike.

If you have any sense, you’ll see that going into Syria, an adventure whose costs our people will shoulder, demonstrates again that is us against them, where them constitutes “The Comitatus—”the sprawling apparatus that encompasses the ministries of government, the lawyers, the diplomats, the adjutants, the messengers, the interpreters, the intellectuals”

Lest you forget, the D.C. hood is also home to your favorite, oh-so gritty media personalities, who gather inside or near the Bubble to reap “the benefits of being at the center of the Imperium.” This means rocking the ship of state just enough to retain street cred with “the folks.”

UPDATE II: ONWARD TO SYRIA. As was predicted in this post, “they” would win; “we” would lose. BBC NEWS is first to report that “US senators’ draft backs limited action.”

The measure to be voted on next week sets a time limit of 60 days on any operation. The draft document also bans the use of any ground forces in Syria.

Secretary of State John Kerry said the US had to act after the Assad regime’s “undeniable” chemical weapons attack.

The Republican Speaker of the House of Representatives, John Boehner, endorsed Mr Obama’s call for military action.

According to a copy of the draft resolution obtained by AFP news agency, the senators wish to restrict the operation to a “limited and tailored use of the United States Armed Forces against Syria”.

The resolution states that “the president may extend” a 60-day operation “for a single period of 30 days” if he obtains further specific Congressional approval.

“The authority granted… does not authorise the use of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Syria for the purpose of combat operations,” the statement added.

FACEBOOK THREAD. It amazes me how immoral people the world over are (US politicians included) about demanding American blood and treasure. As I wrote in The Titan is Tired, “We Americans have our own tyrants to tackle. We no longer want to defend to the death borders not our own—be they in Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, [Syria], wherever. And we don’t need our friends looking to us to do so.” And I added, “This column has been consistently polite about—but disinterested in—the putative push for freedom across the Middle East. Dare I say that such a stance, and not slobbering sentimentality, is the proper, libertarian position? I promised, accordingly, that when liberty deprived peoples the world over supported patriots stateside, I’d return the favor. The same goes for Israel.”


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The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills

Ancient History, Foreign Policy, Just War, Military, The State, War

“The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills” is the current column, now on WND. An excerpt:

“Libertarian extraordinaire John Stossel asks the right questions. He doesn’t always arrive at the right answers.

The questions Mr. Stossel poses on his Fox-Business TV show, small mercies, have little to do with the mindless things that busy Big Media. For the last couple of weeks, for example, the impetus among the mindless has been to provide the priapic Anthony Wiener with the boost his worthless life and life’s work have clearly needed.

The sexting antics of this engorged organism—a New-York City mayoral candidate and once a Democratic congressman—have allowed Mainstream Media to carry out its mission: knocking down one straw man (Weiner) to conceal the catastrophes of another (Obama).

Back to Stossel. To the question of ‘Are We Rome?’ posed on the July 18 segment of his eponymous show, Mr. Stossel replied, ‘Not yet.’

Wrong.

Mr. Stossel takes comfort in the fact that ‘we don’t kill people for sport. When we go to war, misguided or not, we don’t conquer or plunder. And when we win, we usually leave.’

The popular host is utterly mistaken—just as he was wrong to summarily dismiss the the threat to liberty of the ‘National Security Administration tracking patterns in our emails and phone calls,’ to quote his nonchalant column.

Who is Stossel kidding? American assassins hunt down and kill very many innocents abroad by drone. Unmanned aerial U.S. ‘drones have killed thousands, many of them civilians,’ attests Gabor Rona of Human Rights First.

And talk about a Roman spectacle! Targeted killing is even a bit of a sport—so much so that the latter-day Rome has established a “new medal that honors drone pilots and computer experts” for their long-distance killing prowess. It was to be called ‘The Distinguished Warfare Medal.’

Rome’s rulers were not early as efficient as the US is at killing. Uncle Sam has industrialized and streamlined war-time slaughter. No longer do thousands of legionnaires lay siege to a city with attack catapults; one pilots flattens it with a single ‘daisy cutter’ (and few qualms). …”

The complete column is “The Latter-Day Rome Lives And Kills.” Read it on WND.

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