Wednesday, June 15, 2011

News from the Malabar Front: US Bombs Over Libya Are Not "Hostilities"

What is it about the war in Libya that brings George Orwell's 1984 to life over and over again? From today's New York Times online:

'The White House is telling Congress that President Obama has the legal authority to continue American participation in the NATO-led air war in Libya, even though lawmakers have not authorized it.... The White House, for the first time, offers lawmakers and the public an argument for why Mr. Obama has not been violating the War Powers Resolution since May 20....

[T]he White House argued that the activities of United States military forces in Libya do not amount to full-blown “hostilities” at the level necessary to involve the section of the War Powers Resolution that imposes the deadline....The two senior administration lawyers contended that American forces have not been in “hostilities” at least since April 7, when NATO took over leadership in maintaining a no-flight zone in Libya....

The administration had earlier argued that Mr. Obama could initiate the intervention in Libya on his own authority as commander-in-chief because it was not a “war” in the constitutional sense.'

Is it not outrageous that Obama is now practically begging the Republicans to assume an (utterly phoney) anti-war mantle? As if their newfound anti-war, pro-War Powers Resolution identity is anything other than an anti-Obama smokescreen. What sheer clusterfuck!

And what unbelieveable hubris: everyone knows NATO is the United States.

Just a few days ago the Times noted: "The United States accounts for about three-quarters of total military spending by all NATO countries, and it has in the past taken the lead in military operations and provided the bulk of the weapons and matériel. ... If the United States did not have large stockpiles of ammunition, a senior NATO official said, the NATO campaign would already have come to a halt. The Americans are selling the ammunition, but it was the American military budget that paid for its manufacture and stockpiling. Similarly, NATO allies must still rely on American Awacs planes and refueling aircraft, American suppression of air defenses and American intelligence gathering. Even with the United States playing a secondary role, by mid-May its operations in Libya had already cost $664 million, according to a Pentagon memo circulating in Washington."

I don't watch much so-called news on TV since it's mostly paid infotainment or government-authorized propaganda, but I do listen to NPR all the time. Have you noticed, as I have, that casualties in Afghanistan are now reported as being "NATO casualties"? As if everyone can't see that NATO means American. Do they think people won't notice?

A few years ago I worked in the music business. The megacorporation I worked for specialized for a while in absorbing smaller, independent companies: When it was still part of German-owned Bertelsmann, the BMG Music Service purchased CDNow, an innovative but financially troubled independent music website. At first they tried to maintain its business, but then the cutbacks started. Eventually hundreds of people were laid off and offices were closed, and the CDNow brand was licensed to It changed from being an independent site that provided reputable editorial content as well as music sales to being basically an automated brand script on Amazon's servers. Well shortly after BMG washed its hands of day-to-day CDNow affairs, our company had a town hall meeting. The CEO was taking questions. Somebody asked him why he killed off CDNow. You could see the smoke pour from the CEO's ears. Almost tearfully he raged, "How dare you say we killed off CDNow! It's right there on the back of our business cards. It's a great brand for us. We're committed to that brand. We have turned it around into a brand that makes a profit for us!" See, it didn't matter that hundreds of people had lost their jobs. It didn't matter that CDNow the company, the employer, the home to hundreds of careers, ceased to exist: in corporate double-think, he really believed CDNow still existed. It sure did on his profitability statements and on his yearly bonus.

My point in this digression is that in the world of corporatists like my old CEO or President Obama, reality is not experienced the same way you and I experience it. So if there's no U.S. "hostilities" in Libya because the pieces of paper in front of him say "NATO," then that's the way it must be. It's not the constitutional sense.

Excuse me, but fuck that BS.

(Illustration from the excellent left-wing "Rag Blog." That's Obama's now painfully embarrassing Nobel Prize bleeding on his lapel.)


  1. I do have to hand it to you, ish, you stick to what you believe.

    I have noticed a lot of parallels between the justification for involvement in Libya, and GWB's justification for involvement in Iraq. I think Obama wins any contest hands down in terms of validity of those claims, but I'm glad the left has not pussy-footed around just because it is our man doing the dirty work this time.

    Be that as it may, I have a real fear of third party intervention in the 2012 election. The left is just disenfranchised enough for a third party candidate (Ron Paul 2.0?) to seriously damage Obama's chances, as happened to both John Kerry and Al Gore. Given the insanity coming out of the mouths of people like Michelle Bachmann, it might be a good idea to start to unite behind Obama, if for no other reason than because I'd rather have him misstepping a little than any of the crazies on the right taking huge craps all over our country.

    Still, as before, my opinion on Libya is that intervening to enforce the clear will of the people is an okay thing. Not great, but okay.

  2. Freebones, depending on who it is, I actually think a third party is likely to be doing Obama a favor at this point. You put Republicans in one corner, Dems in another, and what we call Independents in another, I think that looks good for the sitting President.

    At this point I can't imagine a circumstance where I would not vote for Obama again. The Republicans, and those so-called Independents scare me too much. But I don't think it's necessary to pull punches on criticizing him. I hate the "Obama is inept" or "Obama is an empty suit" rhetoric I read on blogs; I think it's thinly disguised racism. I hate criticism of Obama that reveals more about poor understanding of politics than actual reality. But I think there is much fair criticism to be made, and I don't think that those of who want him to be better, or at least think he's better than the alternative, need offer up our silence out of fear of rocking the boat.

  3. Orwell believed that Newspeak would totally replace Oldspeak by 2050. Considering his keen eye for pegging future events, I would say we are pretty close to reaching that goal. I think 1984 should be a must read today and keep in mind Orwell wrote the novel in and around 1946 , looking thirty-eight years into the future. We can’t say we weren’t warned.

    Government manipulation of the facts wasn’t pure fiction on Orwell’s part, he was writing about events which he experienced firsthand as second lieutenant for the Republican militia in the Spanish Civil War in the nineteen-thirties.

    Do you hear what I hear? collateral damage = civilian murder / death tax = estate tax / NATO = USA / assets = stuff that will inflict great harm

    "Until they become conscious they will never rebel, and until after they have rebelled they cannot become conscious." - George Orwell, 1984, Book 1, Chapter 7