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Duplicitous Congressional Posturing on Libya

By Stephen Lendman - Posted on 18 June 2011

Duplicitous Congressional Posturing on Libya - by Stephen Lendman

In Washington, hypocrisy and duplicity substitute for resolute action to obey international and constitutional law. In fact, they're mere artifacts long ago discarded to advance America's imperium.

All Washington's wars are illegal. International law permits them only in self-defense. Constitutional law only lets Congress, not the president, declare or wage them overtly, covertly or any other way for any reason unless America was attacked.

Moreover, the principle of non-intervention (a cornerstone of international law pertaining to national sovereignty) prohibits meddling in the internal affairs of other countries as stipulated in the UN Charter's Article 2 (7), stating:

"Nothing contained in the present Charter shall authorize the United Nations to intervene in matters which are essentially within the domestic jurisdiction of any state or shall require the Members to submit such matters to settlement under the present Charter; but this principle shall not prejudice the application of enforcement measures under Chapter VII," pertaining to threats to peace, its breaches, or acts of aggression.

These issues don't apply to America's wars against Iraq, Afghanistan, Pakistan, Libya, Yemen, and numerous proxy ones. Congress can easily stop them with a simple up or down vote to end funding, as well as another with teeth, holding the president accountable unless hostilities are immediately halted.

Moreover, so-called "humanitarian intervention" is modern-day colonialism dressed up in rhetorical mumbo jumbo to justify aggression. As a result, when America intervenes, it's for policy goals, not human rights, civil liberties, democratic values, or humanitarian priorities, presidents and lawmakers don't give a damn about and never did, abroad or at home.

Nonetheless, on June 15, Obama claimed legitimacy for America's war on Libya, telling Congress:

"The President is of the view that the current US military operations in Libya are consistent with the War Powers Resolution and do not under that law require further congressional authorization, because US military operations are distinct from the kind of 'hostilities' contemplated by the Resolution's 60 day termination provision."

Calling America's role "constrained," he added other duplicitously reasons for another illegal war against a nonbelligerent country.

Moreover, claiming War Powers Resolution authority is a red herring. It applies only to legal wars in self-defense as defined under international and constitutional laws. No exceptions apply. Presidents can't subvert them. Congress can hold them accountable by cutting off funding and impeachment for usurping illegal executive supremacy.

In fact, failure to do so violates the Constitution's Article VI, Clause 3 Oath of Office provision. The first Congress instituted a binding pledge, stating:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support the Constitution of the United States."

In April 1861, Lincoln expanded it to include all federal civilian employees. In 1884, the modern version was enacted, stating:

"I do solemnly swear (or affirm) that I will support and defend the Constitution of the United States against all enemies, foreign and domestic; that I will bear true faith and allegiance to the same; that I take this obligation freely, without any mental reservation or purpose of evasion; and that I will well and faithfully discharge the duties of the office on which I am about to enter: So help me God."

Virtually all congressional members violate constitutional law, governing contrary to this oath, rendering it null and void, thus making them complicit in presidential crimes, their rhetorical posturing notwithstanding.

For example, on June 13, House members, in an amendment to a military appropriations bill, voted to prohibit funding operations for Libya without congressional authorization. It was political posturing as Senate follow-through is unlikely, giving representatives for it a safe vote.

In an earlier June 3 one, House members said Obama "failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya." However, the measure lacked teeth, merely stating that:

"Congress has (but won't enforce) the constitutional prerogative to withhold funding for any unauthorized use of the United States Armed Forces, including for unauthorized activities regarding Libya."

Moreover, in a separate vote, members defeated a Homeland Security Appropriations bill amendment to prohibit funding it.

On June 15, 10 congressional members (3 Democrats, 7 Republicans) sued Obama in the US District of Columbia District Court for unilaterally waging war on Libya.

Calling for "Injunctive and Declaratory Relief," the complaint said in part:

This measure challenges "Defendant Barack Obama, President of the United States, (for) go(ing) to war in Libya and other countries without the declaration of war from Congress required by Article I, Section, 8, Clause 11 of the US Constitution."

It further challenges his violation of the War Powers Resolution, requiring congressional authorization, as well as "commit(ting) the United States to a war under the authority of (NATO) in violation of the express condition of the North Atlantic Treaty ratified by Congress."

In fact, rhetorical posturing, toothless congressional measures and ineffective lawsuits aside, most members of Congress support wars by passing defense authorization bills and supplemental appropriations with comfortable margins.

In addition, since WW II, they never challenged presidential war making authority without congressional approval, as well as for failing to follow international and constitutional law. Nor have they demanded domestic accountability for fundamental democratic rights they, in fact, also spurn with impunity.

Instead they support imperial wars and corporate privilege for their own self-interest. As a result, they benefit greatly at the public's expense, especially during hard times when federal aid more than ever is needed, not austerity cuts leaving millions on their own sink or swim.

A Final Comment

America's media wholeheartedly support US imperial wars, no matter how lawless, mindless, destructive and counterproductive. In fact, they revel in them, cheerleading daily slaughter, mostly affecting noncombatant men, women and children, defenseless against American-led terror bombing.

In Libya, for example, non-military targets are struck, including ports, schools, hospitals, houses, civilian infrastructure, a university, a Brega peace conference killing 16 imams and wounding dozens, Gaddafi's personal compound to kill him, instead murdering his son and three grandchildren, as well as daily attacks killing and injuring hundreds of Libyans.

Nonetheless, a June 16 New York Times editorial wants more, headlined "Libya and the War Powers Act," saying:

"It would be hugely costly - for this country's credibility, for the future of NATO and for the people of Libya - if Congress were to force (Obama) to abandon military operations over Libya."

The Pentagon planned, leads, and directs the war for an estimated $1.1 billion through September, yet The Times calls America's involvement "limited," adding:

"We support the Libya campaign....(W)e have no doubt that if NATO had not intervened, thousands more Libyan civilians would have been slaughtered."

In fact, clear evidence shows America and other Western powers recruited, funded, armed, and support Libyan mercenaries to help oust Gaddafi's regime. Moreover, no humanitarian crisis existed until NATO intervened.

Nonetheless, The Times said, ending America's involvement would cause NATO's campaign to "unravel." As a result, "relations with Europe and the unity of the military alliance (would be enormously harmed), likely felt all the way to Afghanistan," another illegal war The Times supports, urging Obama to fight on, adding:

"Congress....needs to authorize continued American support for NATO's air campaign over Libya," no matter the body count it causes. America's entire corporate media establishment agrees.

Stephen Lendman lives in Chicago and can be reached at

Also visit his blog site at and listen to cutting-edge discussions with distinguished guests on the Progressive Radio News Hour on the Progressive Radio Network Thursdays at 10AM US Central time and Saturdays and Sundays at noon. All programs are archived for easy listening.


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