Editor's note: This contribution by the late journalist I.F. Stone first appeared in our January 1975 magazine.
With Qaddafi on the run, we’re now hearing about Libya being a model for future U.S. interventions.
The New York Times today reports that Administration officials say the Libyan intervention may, in some important ways, become a model for how the United States wields force in other countries where its interests are threatened.
I should hope not.
Because what the United States and its European allies did was “international gangsterism,” as Dennis Kucinich so colorfully put it the other day.
Obama violated the Constitution and the War Powers Act by bombing Libya without Congressional approval when Libya didn’t pose a threat to the United States. And there’s a big difference between threatening the United States and threatening U.S. “interests”: Any country that opposes free trade and corporate domination may be said to threaten U.S. interests, at least the way the power elite defines them. So now future Presidents can cite the Libya intervention as precedent for bombing, say, Venezuela.
For their part, the allies violated the U.N. Security Council resolutions on Libya by providing huge amounts of weapons to the rebels when those resolutions had imposed an arms embargo on all parties.
What’s more, the CIA trained the rebel forces and guided their assaults.
And the rationale that Obama used, late in the game, for not abiding by the War Powers Act was a classic: The Administration said that because Libya’s air defenses were wiped out, U.S. pilots were no longer in harm’s way, so Congress need not worry about it.
You can call this the Obama Doctrine if you want, but it amounts to this: The President can go bomb any country it wants so long as that country doesn’t have air defenses, or the President can destroy a country’s air defenses and continue to wage war against that country—all without bothering to get approval from Congress.
This is but a recipe for more international gangsterism in the years ahead.
If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "NYPD and CIA Need to Be Investigated."
Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter