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Archive for March, 2011

Dangers are Inherent in the War with Qaddafi

To be sure Muammar Qaddafi is a devil incarnate.  For 41 years he has ruled Libya with an iron fist.  He has repeatedly participated in terroristic endeavors, even against his own people.  As recently as two weeks ago it looked like he was a goner as rebels had taken hold of much of Libya knocking at Qaddafi’s door in the capital, Tripoli.  Then, being the survivor that he is, Qaddafi rose from the dead as his mostly foreign mercenary forces fought back retaking much of the country and driving toward the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.  Apparently, his warning that he would show “no mercy” to the people opposing him in Benghazi was the last straw for the United Nations.  This remark pressured that body into passing a resolution calling for the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya to prevent Qaddafi from carrying out his threat.

On the surface, who could argue with stopping a madman from butchering potentially tens of thousands of people?   But under the surface, the U.N. resolution and the Obama administration’s adherence to it is dangerous for the United States.

In the first place, unless America is under imminent danger, the president has no authority to launch a military attack against another sovereign nation.  Obama is not an emperor endowed with unlimited power to pursue military adventures wherever.  He is a president operating in a system of checks and balances, restrained by a written constitution.  Since the end of World War II American presidents have generally ignored the rule of law when it comes to conducting military campaigns and this has produced a state of almost constant war at huge costs to the nation in terms of human life, reputation, and financial resources.  These latest actions by Obama are no different and will almost certainly lead to all of the aforementioned costs.

Another danger for the U.S. is that this mission is more than just the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya.  This is a full-fledged combat mission.  We are not just destroying anti-aircraft batteries and Libyan aircraft capable of bombing civilians.  We are fully engaged in targeting tanks and killing Qaddafi’s fighters on the ground.  With that comes the loss of civilian lives.  As a matter of fact, Arab League chief Amr Moussa, who originally called for the U.N. to impose a no-fly zone, has become critical of the military actions taken in Libya so far.  Speaking on Egypt’s official state news agency, he said, “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians.”  Thus, once again the U.S. is being portrayed in the Arab world as invaders and killers of Arab civilians.  This is certainly not the image we want to maintain in light of the fact that Al Qaeda and other terrorist groups will be more than willing to use this portrayal for recruiting purposes.

Lastly, the president’s decision to commence combat operations in Libya without congressional debate/authority is dangerous because an exit strategy has not been developed.  According to U.S. Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Admiral Mike Mullen, how coalition forces extricate themselves from Libya is “very uncertain” and the whole affair could end in a stalemate with Qaddafi.  If the latter were to happen would we end up staying in Libya indefinitely protecting the Libyans against the brutal dictator?  Are we headed for another quagmire?

At the end of the day it seems like a no-brainer that a coalition sanctioned by the U.N. should step in and prevent the Libyan Madman from perpetuating further atrocities against his own people.  But, why is it that the U.S. must once again lead that effort?  Aren’t we already overextended in Iraq and Afghanistan?  How much war can our collective soul take?  Finally, are the dangers inherent in this operation really worth it?  Given the rotten condition of our economy, our fear of future terrorist attacks, and the broken institution which is our federal government, the answer would have to be an emphatic no.

Article first published as Dangers are Inherent in the War with Qaddafi on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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Abraham Lincoln:  Biggest Fraud in American History

Last Friday, March 11 marked the 150th anniversary of Abraham Lincoln’s first presidential inauguration.  For generations the virtues of our 16th president and his martyr like demise at the hands of an assassin have been proudly proclaimed to public school students so much so that Lincoln has practically attained the status of a deity in our society.  His otherworldliness is of course based on the claim that he single-handedly engineered the freeing of the slaves and rightly saved the Union from the selfish interests of a few malcontents in the South.  This shallow revisionist history of Lincoln’s motives and actions has been effective in convincing most Americans that the poor rail splitter from Illinois should be revered and worshiped.  However, it is the discerning student of history who knows the aforementioned claims are dubious to say the least and a second look at the railroad lawyer is necessary to see the true character of the man known as “Honest Abe”.

To rebut that Lincoln ever sought to free the slaves all we need to do is read his own words written in a letter to Horace Greeley on August 22, 1862, almost a year and half after becoming president.

“My paramount object in this struggle is to save the Union, and is not either to save or to destroy slavery. If I could save the Union without freeing any slave I would do it, and if I could save it by freeing all the slaves I would do it; and if I could save it by freeing some and leaving others alone I would also do that. What I do about slavery, and the colored race, I do because I believe it helps to save the Union….”

In other words, all Lincoln cared about was keeping the country together under his leadership as president.  As a moral concern, he didn’t care at all about freeing the slaves.  In fact, his Emancipation Proclamation only freed the slaves located in states actively in rebellion against the United States.  This was in order to allow those slaves to fight for the Union army.  His executive order fulfilled his words that he would attempt to save the Union by freeing some slaves and leaving others alone.  In essence the Proclamation enhanced the ranks of the Yankee fighting force in the South while leaving close to 1 million slaves on the plantations of the border states loyal to the North.

If that’s not bad enough, information about what Lincoln had planned for freed slaves after the War Between the States has been uncovered at the British National Archives and the National Archives in Washington, D.C. and published in a new book by university researchers, Philip Magness and Sebastian Page.  According to the authors, speaking to an audience of freed slaves at the White House in 1862, Lincoln encouraged them to leave the U.S. and to resettle abroad.  He stressed to them that he considered free blacks who sought a permanent existence in the United States to be “selfish” and encouraged them to relocate to Central America “”especially because of the similarity of climate with your native land — thus being suited to your physical condition.”  He further engaged the British in secret diplomacy to get their permission to set up a colony for free blacks in Belize leading to his appointing a British agent to recruit volunteers for the endeavor.  Lastly, just one year prior to his assassination Lincoln queried Attorney General Edward Bates on whether his colonization commissioner James Mitchell could still advise him given that Congress had ended funding for Mitchell’s office.

Thus, one could argue that Lincoln used the slaves as military pawns in his conflict with the Confederacy.  He granted them freedom in the South in order to recruit them to fight their former masters.  Once the war was over, he would have been content double crossing them by not guaranteeing them the freedom they had fought for and instead shipping them off to a faraway place better “suited to their physical condition”.  This is the “Great Emancipator” that all American school children are taught to revere.

To be sure, there are other frauds in American history.  Woodrow Wilson usually gets high praise as saving the world for democracy.  His policies during and after World War I led to the rise of Hitler and the next great world conflict.  His racist tendencies have also been covered up by revisionists.  Then there is the patron saint of statist everywhere, Franklin Roosevelt.  His imbecilic economic policies prolonged the Great Depression by at least another decade.  His handling of the Pacific fleet at Pearl Harbor was either meant to start war with Japan, in order to boost the economy or grotesque negligence.  Either way he was guilty of treason or dereliction of duty.

It’s close but Lincoln takes the prize for biggest fraud.  He was anything but a democrat and supporter of liberty as his transgressions against the Declaration of Independence and Constitution are legendary.  The War Between the States that he directed took the lives of over a half million Americans on both sides.  His position that the slaves should be used militarily solely to secure the Union and then discarded like last week’s leftovers despicable.

Article first published as Abraham Lincoln: Biggest Fraud in American History on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander

Last week the Justice Department announced that it would no longer enforce the Defense of Marriage Act (DOMA).  Passed by huge bipartisan majorities in both chambers of Congress and signed into law by President Clinton in 1996, DOMA defines a legal marriage as one between a man and a woman.  Additionally, the act shields each state from having to legally recognize same sex marriages permitted in other states.  In making the announcement, Attorney General Holder said the decision was based on his and the president’s opinion that the law was unconstitutional.

Now, naturally, the Obama Administration’s announcement has angered many on the right.  Newt Gingrich, one of the right’s main moral barometers, thinks Obama has a constitutional duty to enforce the law and if he doesn’t he hinted that he possibly should be impeached.  The former Speaker of the House was quoted recently as saying,

“I believe the House Republicans next week should pass a resolution instructing the president to enforce the law and to obey his own constitutional oath, and they should say if he fails to do so that they will zero out [defund] the office of attorney general and take other steps as necessary until the president agrees to do his job.  His job is to enforce the rule of law and for us to start replacing the rule of law with the rule of Obama is a very dangerous precedent.”

It’s a big surprise that Gingrich would come out against the president like this.  Of course I am kidding.  It is not a surprise at all given Newt’s interest in the office Obama currently occupies.  What is also not a surprise is that Gingrich is way off base in his analysis.  Under our separation of powers, Congress really can’t tell the president what to do.  What Gingrich is doing harkens back to the impeachment of President Andrew Johnson in 1868.  Johnson, a Democrat, disagreed with the fascist policies of the Radical Republicans toward the South after the Civil War.  The last straw was his firing of Secretary of War Edwin M. Stanton in violation of the newly passed (over Johnson’s veto) Tenure of Office Act.  The Act denied the president the power to remove anyone from office who was appointed by a previous president without the advice and consent of the Senate.  In the end, Johnson was acquitted by the Senate and the Supreme Court ruled the Tenure of Office Act unconstitutional in 1926 consequently upholding the separation of powers between the Executive and Legislative branches.

To even hint that by not enforcing an act of Congress Obama is committing an impeachable offense is producing a dangerous precedent.  Article 2 Section 4 of the U.S. Constitution is clear about what grounds must exist in order for the House of Representatives to undertake impeachment proceedings against the president.  They include acts of “treason, bribery, or other high crimes and misdemeanors”.  In other words impeachment is for crimes committed not for not carrying out one’s duties.  In our system of governance the American people can vote the president out of office at the next election.  That is the beauty of Democracy.

Thus, the president is within his right to refuse to enforce or “nullify” an act of Congress.  But what is interesting is the two-faced position of the president in this circumstance.  For, while he clearly believes that as president he has the right to nullify an act of Congress, he surely would not agree that juries and states have the same right.

Recently in a Manhattan federal courtroom 78 year old Julian P. Heicklen was arraigned for violating a federal law against jury tampering.  Since 2009, the retired Heicklen has stood outside courthouses handing out pamphlets to potential jurors informing them that they have the power to ignore laws they deem unconstitutional and render verdicts based on their conscience.  This practice is known as jury nullification and usually applies to so-called victimless crimes dealing with guns, drugs, gambling, etc…

Of course, then there is the much hated Obamacare.  At least 7 states, Idaho, Maine, Montana, Oregon, Nebraska, Texas, and Wyoming have either started the process of passing laws nullifying Obamacare or are considering such laws.  Essentially these laws state that Obamacare is unconstitutional and will not be enforced.  If Obama was consistent he would pardon Heicklen and if the time comes recognize the states’ right to nullify his beloved health care boondoggle.

Because what it really comes down to is the old saying, “What’s good for the goose is good for the gander”.  If the president is going to claim the right to ignore a law passed by Congress then he ought to also recognize the right of other entities to do the same.  Double standards in government must end.  Nullification is another mechanism of checking the power of government.  It is an important safeguard against tyranny of the majority.  It is a means to snuff out unconstitutional laws like the one President Obama is nullifying.

Article first published as What’s Good for the Goose is Good for the Gander on Blogcritics.

Kenn Jacobine teaches internationally and maintains a summer residence in North Carolina

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