Here’s another indication that there may eventually be US troops on the ground in Libya.
During a Senate hearing on Tuesday, Sen. Jack Reed of Rhode Island asked Adm. James Stavridis about NATO putting forces into “post-Gadhafi” Libya to make sure the country doesn’t fall apart. Stavridis said he “wouldn’t say NATO’s considering it yet.” But because of NATO’s history of putting peacekeepers in the Balkans — as pictured above — “the possibility of a stabilization regime exists.”
So welcome to a new possible “endgame” for Libya. Western troops patrolling Libya’s cities during a a shaky transition after Moammar Gadhafi’s regime has fallen, however that’s supposed to happen. Thousands of NATO troops patrolled Bosnia and Kosovo’s tense streets for years. And Iraq and Afghanistan taught the U.S. and NATO very dearly that fierce insurgent conflict can follow the end of a brutal regime. In fact, it’s the moments after the regime falls that can be the most dangerous of all — especially if well-intentioned foreign troops become an object of local resentment.
In fact, Stavridis told Sen. James Inhofe of Oklahoma that he saw “flickers of intelligence” indicating “al-Qaeda [and] Hezbollah” have fighters amongst the Libyan rebels. The Supreme Allied Commander of NATO noted that the leadership of the rebels are “responsible men and women struggling against Col. Gadhafi” and couldn’t say if the terrorist element in the opposition is “significant.” But the U.S. knows precious little about who the Libyan rebels are.
The new prospect of NATO force on the ground in Libya seemed to alarm Sen. Joe Manchin of West Virginia, who got Stavridis to say that there’s “no discussion of the insertion of ground troops” in NATO circles. (And “to my knowledge” there aren’t troops there now, he said.) But Stavridis told Reed that the memory of the long NATO peacekeeping efforts in the Balkans is “in everyone’s mind.”
And the US isn’t even running the show – NATO is.
What could go wrong?
Charlie Savage of the New York Times reports that the Obama Administration is arguing that the Constitution does not require congressional authorization for the Libya intervention because it is not a “war,” but merely some smaller scale of military action:
“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,” Mr. Obama told The Boston Globe in December 2007.
The administration’s legal team appears to be distinguishing between a full war and a more limited military operation, on the theory that the Libyan intervention falls short of what would prompt any Congressional authority to control decisions about whether to initiate hostilities.Asked about Mr. Obama’s 2007 statement, Tom Donilon, Mr. Obama’s national security adviser, said Monday that the administration “welcomes the support of Congress in whatever form that they want to express that support.” But, Mr. Donilon added, Mr. Obama could authorize the operation on his own.
“This is a limited — in terms of scope, duration and task — operation, which does fall in the president’s authorities,” he said.
As I have pointed out here and here, this may be a reasonable argument if the Libya operation remains short and very limited in scale. But if it drags on or the fighting escalates, the administration’s legal position will become increasingly tenuous. Moreover, as Jack Goldsmith points out, the administration may be relying on Clinton-era arguments justifying the 1994 Haiti and 1995 Bosnia interventions. But those arguments relied heavily on the notion that the interventions in question were “consensual” (US forces had been invited by the governments of those countries). By contrast, the Libyan government certainly hasn’t invited us to bomb its forces, and the administration has not recognized the rebels as as the “true” government in Gaddafi’s place.
Some might say that none of this really matters. After all, no court is likely to enjoin military operations against Libya, even if a lawsuit were filed. But the president and Congress have an independent duty to uphold the Constitution even if courts cannot or will not force them to do so. We should strive to establish a political culture where all three branches of government take their constitutional obligations seriously. I am not naive enough to believe that politicians will ever do so fully. But we can certainly do better than the present situation where most of our elected leaders give the Constitution no more than lip service unless forced to do by defeat in Court.
Constitutional considerations also matter in so far as they might sway public opinion. While people who strongly support or strongly oppose the Libya intervention are unlikely to change their minds on the basis of constitutional concerns alone, many observers are on the fence. I am one such fence-sitter myself, since I see some strong arguments on both sides of the policy issue. The Libya action has split both the right and the left in interesting ways. In such a fluid situation, constitutional arguments might have a greater impact than in a case where partisan divisions are tightly drawn and most people have strong commitments to one side or the other.
Our Torah commentators teach us that in biblical days, these skin discolorations and abnormalities were a physical manifestation of a spiritual problem. The Kohain was well trained in looking at the skin and knowing what the person did wrong to merit such scabs. Almost always, these skin conditions were a result of Lashon Harah- gossip, slander, evil talk, using our communication skills for ill ends.
Enter Helen Thomas, long time journalist and reporter for United Press International (UPI), who had the distinction of not only sitting in the front row at every US Presidential news conference for decades, but also of being given the privilege of asking the first question following the President’s remarks. Perhaps Helen Thomas has worn long sleeves over the years, to cover the results of her private gossip about Jews as well as her recent public slanderous and outrageous remarks about Israel, Jews and Zionism.
yes I am aware of the irony of using Roald Dahl’s character
this is a region of the country that is in a lot of trouble.The Salem News for example reads like a website for Stormfront.They dress it up in “Liberalism”…of course. In Seattle the ACLU is actively trying to put BDS posters on public buses. I have experience with the mind set here. Wish I could say more. Portland Knows Oh So Little About Portland via challahhuakbar.blogspot.com
SEATTLE — The American Civil Liberties Union of Washington is suing King County over its refusal to place advertisements critical of the Israeli government on Metro buses.
(03-31) 08:15 PDT WASHINGTON, (AP) —
As the U.S. debates its future role in the Libyan conflict, Defense officials slammed the brakes on any broad participation Thursday, with Defense Secretary Robert Gates saying there will be no American ground troops in Libya “as long as I am in this job.”
Under withering congressional probing and criticism of an ill-defined mission to aid a rebel force that officials know little about, Gates and Joint Chiefs chairman Adm. Mike Mullen sketched out a largely limited role for the U.S. military going forward, with Gates saying some other country could train the rebels trying to oust strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
“My view would be, if there is going to be that kind of assistance to the opposition, there are plenty of sources for it other than the United States,” said Gates. “Somebody else should do that.”
Asked by one lawmaker whether the U.S. involvement might inevitably mean “boots on the ground” in Libya, Gates replied, “Not as long as I am in this job.”
The U.S. turned over control of the military operation to NATO Thursday, just hours before Gates and Mullen told Congress that future U.S. participation will be limited and will not involve an active role in airstrikes as time goes on.
They were unable; however, to answer key questions from clearly agitated lawmakers about the length of the operation and how it will play out if Gadhafi does not relinquish power.
The U.S. goals are unclear and officials don’t know who the rebels are, said Rep. Mike Turner, R-Ohio, adding that if it came to a vote he would not support U.S. involvement in the operation.
He and others repeatedly complained that Congress has not been consulted on the Libya operation, and chafed that the legislative branch is not willing to be a backseat driver.
Gates and Mullen insisted that Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s military has been degraded by as much as 25 percent, but Mullen noted that regime forces still outnumber the rebels by about 10-to-1.
Meanwhile, they said the opposition groups are fractured and operating independently city by city, and just 1,000 of the rebels are militarily trained.
Their comments came as Gadhafi’s forces struck forcefully back at the rebels this week, recapturing lost ground and triggering pleas for help from the battered and failing opposition forces.
Gates said that he believes political and economic pressures will eventually drive Libyan leader Gadhafi from power, but the military operation will help force him to make those choices by degrading his defense capabilities.
Gates and Mullen testifed before the House and Senate Armed Services Committees in the wake of new revelations that small teams of CIA operatives are working in Libya.
Gates declined to comment on the CIA activities in Libya.
U.S. officials have acknowledged that the CIA has sent small teams of operatives into Libya and helped rescue a crew member of a U.S. fighter jet that crashed.
The CIA’s precise role in Libya is not clear. Intelligence experts said the CIA would have sent officials to make contact with the opposition and assess the strength and needs of the rebel forces in the event President Barack Obama decided to arm them.
Meanwhile, battlefield setbacks are hardening the U.S. view that the poorly equipped opposition probably is incapable of prevailing without decisive Western intervention, a senior U.S. intelligence official told The Associated Press.
The administration says there has been no decision yet about whether to arm the opposition groups, and acknowledged that the U.S. needs to know more about who the rebels are and what role terrorists may be playing there.
Rep. Adam Smith of Washington state, the top Democrat on the House Armed Services Committee, said the U.S. must better explain to the American public that this is not an open-ended conflict and that the U.S. will not become embroiled in a civil war.
Committee chairman Rep. Howard “Buck” McKeon, R-Calif., said he has concerns about U.S. objectives in Libya.
“History has demonstrated that an entrenched enemy like the Libyan regime can be resilient to airpower,” McKeon said.
Associated Press writers Adam Goldman and Robert Burns contributed to this report.