by Walter Brasch
AR Senior Correspondent
October 28, 2011
WAR WITHOUT END, AMEN
DUMMERSTON, Vt. -- It always seems that every triumph for President Barrack Obama usually comes with a caveat.
The death of Muammar Qaddafi and the liberation of Libya falls into that category. While it is always good to see a dictator fall, it cannot be forgotten that Obama committed U.S. forces to attack another country without first consulting with Congress.
Maybe President Obama is hoping no one notices how he violated the Constitution and the War Powers Act in unilaterally making the decision to attack Libya.
Even President George W. Bush made a token effort to involve Congress into the process of going to war in Afghanistan and Iraq. Not Mr. Obama.
It's hard to say what is worse: that Mr. Obama is continuing the Bush Doctrine of attacking any country we see fit, or that the hopelessly gridlocked political situation in Washington that has blocked nearly every domestic initiative of Obama's has extended to foreign policy.
And speaking of Iraq, the President's announcement of the total withdrawal of the 41,000-member U.S. military force currently in Iraq by the end of this year again is a great thing.
However, the caveat is that there will be at least 5,500 private military contractors (the new euphemism for mercenaries) to protect the 17,000 State Department employees and civilians who will fill the largest U.S. embassy in the world in Baghdad.
Also, a signed agreement negotiated by the Bush Administration in 2008 between the U.S. and Iraq stipulates that all U.S. forces must leave by Dec. 31, 2011. The Obama Administration sought to keep troops in Iraq beyond that date, but a deal with the Iraqi government broke down over a U.S. demand to grant legal immunity to U.S. soldiers if they commit any serious crimes.
Because the Iraqi government refused to promise not try American soldiers in Iraqi courts, a mercenary army will take the place of U.S. forces on Jan. 1. 2012.
So, while it is good that U.S. soldiers are coming home, it is still distressing that the U.S. invasion of Iraq is ending the way it began - with spin and lies. And, as we saw with the decision to bomb Libya, the Bush doctrine lives one.
That is the result of the refusal of President Obama and Congress to punish the responsible leaders for plunging this country into an unnecessary and immoral war that has cost the lives of more than 4,440 U.S. service men and women and hundreds of thousands of Iraqi civilians.
The pattern has now been set. The Executive Branch now has absolute power to send this nation to war, and has absolute power to do whatever it sees fit in the ongoing so-called War on Terror.
We see this in the revelations that the U.S. government is still reading emails and eavesdropping on phone conversations without a court warrant.
Or in the network of secret prisons to hold and torture terrorist suspects that is still operating.
Or in the decision Mr. Obama made last month to order a drone plane to attack and kill Anwar al-Awlaki, a U.S. citizen of Yemeni descent living in exile in Yemen. Even though al-Awlaki was a U.S. citizen with full Constitutional protections, he was ordered killed without due process and without being charged with a crime because of alleged links to al-Qaida.
When the President can order an American citizen killed without ever presenting an indictment; when a President can act as judge, jury and executioner: Do we still have a functioning democracy?
It is a shame that the freak show otherwise known as the Republican Party is ignoring all this. All they want to do is attack Mr. Obama, yet there is only the sound of chirping crickets when one brings up the multitude of violations of constitutional and international law committed by the Obama Administration.
Maybe it's because they don't mind seeing most of the Bush Administration's foreign policy being continued under President Obama, and hope to do more of it if a Republican retakes the White House. Despite all the screeching and name-calling by conservatives, Mr. Obama has arguably done a better job carrying out the Bush Administration's foreign policy than Mr. Bush himself.
That is as good an explanation as any for why there is silence regarding President Obama continuing the Bush Doctrine, and flouting the Constitution and international law as vigorously as the previous Administration. But this silence certainly doesn't do our nation any good.
It cannot be said enough. If the Democrats wish to make the case that four more years of Obama is the only thing standing between us and the barbarians at the gate, President Obama has to prove that he is not merely the most recent President Bush, except with brains.
We are overdue for a more modest foreign policy and a wind-down of the American Empire. But as is the case with his domestic agenda, Mr. Obama talks a good game and does little to make his deeds match his lofty rhetoric. We deserve better.
Chief of AR Correspondents Randolph T. Holhut has been a journalist in New England for more than 30 years. He edited "The George Seldes Reader" (Barricade Books). He can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.