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To post questions or comments about the readings before we discuss them in class;
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Friday, March 25, 2011

Black Hawk Down

Chad Pergram writes:

For every minute that Muammar Qaddafi remains in power...

For every hour that ticks by during America's military operations in Libya...

During every sortie...

An horrific set of images haunts official Washington.

They are the pictures of Somali rebels dragging the corpses of U.S. soldiers through the streets of Mogadishu on October 3, 1993.

Certainly the specter of Vietnam agonizes Washington as the benchmark for military conflicts gone horribly wrong. Congress approved the Gulf of Tonkin Resolution in August, 1964 in response to attacks on U.S. vessels. But over time, the resolution proved to be the touchstone of mission creep. It constructed a gateway for the U.S. to get bogged down in an unwinnable conflict which cost tens of thousands of lives. That explains why Vietnam torments policymakers today every time U.S. forces are involved overseas.

But it was that harrowing day in downtown Mogadishu nearly 18 years ago that bedevils lawmakers, generals and administration-types even more now than Vietnam.

Which is precisely why everyone is wringing their hands about whether or not the U.S. is at "war" with Libya. It's why House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH) fired off a letter to President Obama Wednesday afternoon, not ten minutes after Air Force One returned from a trip to South America and Latin America. The speaker demanded answers as to the "objectives of this mission, what our national security interests are, and how it fits into our overarching policy for the Middle East?"

It's why some lawmakers, ranging from liberal Democrats to conservative Republicans, have criticized the president for failing to adequately consult with Congress before committing U.S. forces to this operation in Libya.

"I can only conclude that your order to the United States Armed Forces to attack the nation of Libya on March 19, 2011 is in direct violation of the War Powers Resolution and constitutes a usurpation of Constitutional powers clearly and solely vested in the United States Congress and is accordingly unlawful and unconstitutional," wrote Rep. Tom McClintock (R-CA) in a unilateral missive to Mr. Obama.

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