By Matthew Rothschild on March 19, 2011

Our founders would be appalled that a President of the United States could launch the country into an armed conflict half a world away without a formal declaration of war by Congress, much less barely any discussion of it by the House or by the Senate.

Article 1, Section 8, of our Constitution is unambiguous: Only Congress has the authority "to declare war." James Madison warned that allowing the President to take the country into war would be "too much of a temptation for one man."

At this point in the warping of our system of checks and balances, a President can wage war almost whenever he feels like it -- or at least whenever he can cobble together some "broad coalition," as Obama put it, or a "coalition of the willing," as his predecessor put it.

Sounding just like George W. Bush when he attacked Iraq exactly eight years ago to the day, Obama said that military action against Libya was not our first resort.

Well, it may not have been the first resort, but it sure is Washington's favorite resort.

We, as Americans, need to face facts: We have a runaway Executive Branch when it comes to warmaking.

And Obama appears naïve in the extreme on this one.

It is naïve to expect U.S. involvement in this war to be over in "days, not weeks," as he said.

It is naïve to expect that he can carry this out without using ground troops.

It is naïve to wage war that is not in response to a direct threat to the U.S. national security.

It is naïve to expect millions of Libyans to cheer as their own country is being attacked by Western powers.

It is naïve to expect civilian casualties not to mount as a result of his actions, which he said were designed "to protect Libyan civilians."

And it is naïve to expect the world to go along with the ruse that this is not a U.S.-led act of aggression.

Finally, Obama's stated reasons for this war, which he refuses to call by its proper name, are hypocritical and incoherent.

He said "innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government."

That's true of the people of Yemen, our ally, which just mowed down dozens of peaceful protesters.

That's true of the people of Bahrain, our ally, which also just mowed down dozens of peaceful protesters.

Then there's the kingdom of Saudi Arabia, our chief Arab ally and a repressive government in its own right, which just rolled its tanks into Bahrain.

In the Ivory Coast today, another country on good terms with Washington, a dictatorial government is brutalizing its people.

And a brutal junta has ruled the people of Burma for decades now.

There is no consistent humanitarian standard for Obama's war against Libya. None whatsoever.

Obama has now pushed the United States to a place where we are now engaged in three wars simultaneously.

He's a man, and we're a country, that has gone crazy on war.

If you liked this story by Matthew Rothschild, the editor of The Progressive magazine, check out his story "Wisconsin Teacher in Apparent Suicide, "Distraught" Over Walker's Cuts."

Follow Matthew Rothschild @mattrothschild on Twitter.

Section: 

Add new comment

By submitting this form, you accept the Mollom privacy policy.

More

Subscribe to The Progressive and Get A Free 2015 Calendar

Thirty years after the title year of George Orwell’s “1984,” the Oscar-worthy “Citizenfour” features a real-life...

By Victor Menotti

At a time when most Americans agree that the country has too...

By David Bacon

"The products coming in from the U.S. had government support and subsidies. Mexicans couldn’t...

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).

Public School Shakedown

Progressive Media Project

Newsletter