By Matthew Rothschild on August 29, 2011

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

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By Wendell Berry

Manifesto: The Mad Farmer Liberation Front

Love the quick profit, the annual raise,
vacation with pay. Want more 
of everything ready made. Be afraid 
to know your neighbors and to die.
And you will have a window in your head.
Not even your future will be a mystery 
any more. Your mind will be punched in a card 
and shut away in a little drawer.
When they want you to buy something 
they will call you. When they want you
to die for profit they will let you know. 
So, friends, every day do something
that won’t compute. Love the Lord. 
Love the world. Work for nothing. 
Take all that you have and be poor.
Love someone who does not deserve it. 
Denounce the government and embrace 
the flag. Hope to live in that free 
republic for which it stands. 
Give your approval to all you cannot
understand. Praise ignorance, for what man 
has not encountered he has not destroyed.
Ask the questions that have no answers. 
Invest in the millennium. Plant sequoias.
Say that your main crop is the forest
that you did not plant,
that you will not live to harvest.


Say that the leaves are harvested 
when they have rotted into the mold.
Call that profit. Prophesy such returns.
Put your faith in the two inches of humus 
that will build under the trees
every thousand years.
Listen to carrion—put your ear
close, and hear the faint chattering
of the songs that are to come. 
Expect the end of the world. Laugh. 
Laughter is immeasurable. Be joyful
though you have considered all the facts. 
So long as women do not go cheap 
for power, please women more than men.
Ask yourself: Will this satisfy 
a woman satisfied to bear a child?
Will this disturb the sleep 
of a woman near to giving birth? 
Go with your love to the fields.
Lie easy in the shade. Rest your head 
in her lap. Swear allegiance 
to what is nighest your thoughts.
As soon as the generals and the politicos 
can predict the motions of your mind, 
lose it. Leave it as a sign 
to mark the false trail, the way 
you didn’t go. Be like the fox 
who makes more tracks than necessary, 
some in the wrong direction.
Practice resurrection.

Wendell Berry is a poet, farmer, and environmentalist in Kentucky. This poem, first published in 1973, is reprinted by permission of the author and appears in his “New Collected Poems” (Counterpoint).

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