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Sunday, October 23, 2011



Before writing anything else, I'd like to say that I thought this was a fine post and a pleasure to read. Welcome back, Dr. Blanchard!

Having said that, I will say that I am a little more troubled about Gaddafi's death than you appear to be. I am troubled, first, by our role in the matter. The president's complete disregard of the War Powers Act concerns me. So does the lack of sustained objection to it. The Iraq War was often called illegal, but even Bush sought (and obtained) a resolution from Congress. The current president does not even seem to have considered doing so.

And then there's the matter of assassination. We are no longer even trying to act as if we object to assassinating leaders. That leaves us without a leg to stand on if we mean to object to assassinations ourselves. We may not have assassinated Gaddafi directly, but we certainly seem to have been trying to kill him. I mean, really. Who's going to believe, "We weren't trying to kill him - we were just firing hellfire missiles at him with predator drones"? Can we, now, really criticize Iran?

My second problem is with the nature of his death and our relative complacency with it. Some have criticized the media's coverage of the death and the brutality beforehand. And I will confess that what I saw made me cringe. But I think that perhaps, it's important for us to know what we have a hand in doing. If we can't bear to see what we have a hand in doing, then maybe we shouldn't be doing it. On the other hand, many of us seem to be able to bear it quite well and that may trouble me more.

At the same time the news of Gaddafi death began to circulate, another story was making the rounds - it was the story of a little girl in China who was struck by two vehicles and left to die in the road. No one would help her. Many columnists have been trying to figure out why. Some have suggested that, in China, humanity has lost its value. If that is, indeed the reason (and it may not be!), we ought to be careful not to let ourselves develop the same problem.

Gaddafi, as you say, should have had a trial. That would, indeed, have been more civil. And maybe you're right. Maybe Libya isn't civilized yet and maybe it gets a pass because of that. But we are supposed to be civil. And we ought to have condemned, not the death, but the manner of the execution. Instead, we congratulated the new regime. Hitchens may very well be right.


I agree that Qaddafi should have been captured, tried, and imprisoned by due process. We can't tell if Qaddafi was executed by the regime or simply by a mob that the regime cannot control. Yes, the tyrant's death appears to have been brutal. Oppress me for four decades, imprison and kill my friends and family, force me to take up arms to free my country, and then let me get my hands on the man responsible for all those ills, and I cannot guarantee that my gentle bloggable ethics would hold sway over my rage. That does not justify murder; it only explains the emotions that make it happen.

Miranda, let's not stretch too far to turn Qaddafi's death into an indictment of Obama as assassin. If you'll back off holding Obama directly responsible for this mistake, I'll refrain from giving Obama direct credit for the overall victory. Libyans captured Qaddafi. Libyans killed Qaddafi. The revolution is sullied, but it is still a welcome revolution. Our congratulations to the new regime on liberating Libya are in order.


While I agree in our minds capturing Gaddafi/Qaddafi/orhoweveryouspellhis name, giving him a fair trial and then executing him would have been what is "right", but our world view is not the same as people in other countries. I do not hold Obama personally responsible and I do not believe his policies are what brought him down. Obama stayed as far from this as he could. I do believe the War Powers Act should have been in play here. I do not understand why he refused to use it since the Republicans in Congress asked him to so they could authorize the actions.

Bill Fleming

DuggerSD, that's a strange, self-contradictory position, don't you think?

On the one hand, you say Obama didn't do anything and on the other you seem upset that he didn't ask the GOP for permission not to do it. Or are you saying that you think Obama should have done more than he did?

Care to clarify?


Cory: I agree with your first points to some degree. However, I am not sure that there is much of a distinction between the two groups you refer to (the regime and an uncontrollable mom). It doesn't really look like there is a clear and stable regime yet. Right now, rival factions are vying for power. But you're right. It is not at all clear that those who shot Gaddafi are the same people who will be in power. We still should have condemned the action. If we did, I missed it.

I am certainly open to evidence that suggests that we did not mean to kill Gaddafi. But Duggersd's claim that Obama stayed away from this as much as possible could not be further from the truth.

From MSNBC (http://openchannel.msnbc.msn.com/_news/2011/10/20/8418002-us-drone-fired-missile-at-gadhafi-convoy):

"A U.S. Predator drone fired a Hellfire missile at the 15-vehicle convoy carrying former Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi as he attempted to flee his hometown of Sirte, U.S. officials told NBC News."

"According to the officials, who spoke on condition of anonymity, both the Predator and a NATO warplane launched missiles, striking several vehicles while the rest scattered. Gadhafi was in or near the motorcade, but apparently managed to make his way to a nearby drainage pipe, where he was captured by forces from Libya’s National Transition Council from Misrata."

Tell me - what would you say a hellfire missile is supposed to do? Here's a hint! http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=aU1ukWWOFqg&feature=related

No. We probably didn't fire the bullet that actually hit Gaddafi. But we were certainly trying. And we did chase him into the hands of those who killed him. Furthermore, Iran hasn't killed the Saudi Ambassador either. But we've certainly (and justly) condemned the plot.


*mob. Ha! Sorry about that!

Bill Fleming

Freudian slip. "uncontrollable mom." Funny.

You're forgiven, Miranda, but I still think you might (accidentally) be onto something. There's an old AA joke about the 1st Step that goes: "We admitted we were powerless over alcohol and that our wives had become unmanageable."

Bill Fleming

p.s. Miranda, the U.S. Military claims not to have known that Gadhafi was one of the people who were fleeing the compound in the convoy. It's possible that our people were as surprised as the people on the ground were when the dictator's aide told the rebels that Gadhafi was injured and hiding in the drainage pipe under the road. There is a lot of chaos in a circumstance like that.


Bill: Ha!

I hadn't seen the denial. If that is the case, I am wrong on at least one point - that we had given up even the pretense of avoiding assassinations. That is a bit heartening.


Bill, you are apparently unable to read. I did not say he should have asked the GOP for permission. I said he should have asked Congress. Members of the GOP were inviting him to ask so the Congress could approve.
Despite staying as far away from this as he could, Obama still had our armed forces in harms way. Not in harms way, you say? Then why were people paid hazard pay? I would say Obama's level of credit is rather small. He was rather ancillary in this case.
It seems you do not believe Obama has to follow the law here. I have asked you on a a few occasions whether you believe violating the War Powers Act is a felony.
So, on the one hand, his policies were not the main thing bringing down the regime. On the other hand, President Obama violated the War Powers Act despite the invitation from the opposition to ask for authorization.

Donald Pay

The Republicans have been singularly irresponsible in the Libya situation. The Republicans are a party that should never be trusted with foreign or military policy, and I applaud Obama for finding a way around the Republican traitors.

Can anyone explain what the Republican position in Libya was? I mean can these people concoct a policy that is any more confused. Republican leaders repeatedly flip-flopped and contradicted themselves, taking polar opposite positions within days.

The Republican presidential field was singularly inept. Gingrich, of course, was the most contradictory. The man is the dictionary picture of an idiot as he stands there like a little boy caught telling a big fib, which is, as far as I can tell, all he does. Unfortunately for the Republicans, he was the one who had the most detailed, if completely cuckoo, ideas on Iraq.

The neo-cons, or course, wanted Obama to go into Libya immediately without authorization. They wanted US ground forces there NOW, GOD DAMMIT. I guess they figured if we stomped into a third Muslim country it would be over in a month--a cake walk, like their 10 year war in Iraq. Obama patted these kooks on the head, then ignored them as he and our allies and the Arab League (an entity the neocons would never have gotten to help) developed the way forward.

Like spoiled children who aren't getting enough attention, the Republicans then decided the US should quit Libya for no stated reason, and the Republican House traitors refused to approve authorization. Lucky for us, Obama thumbed his nose at these cowards.

I'm surprised we didn't see Eric Cantor stumbling out of that drainage pipe arm-in-arm with Gaddafi, because these Republican clowns have demonstrated no end to their hate for our country.

Ken Blanchard

The President acted in utter contempt of the War Powers Act. That's okay, if you think that the rule of law is unimportant, at least for Democratic Presidents, and if you think that the WPA is worthy of contempt. Democrats may well believe the former, but do they really believe the latter?

Meanwhile I notice that Donald calls Republicans traitors for criticizing the President's policies. He has completed his transformation into a left wing Archie Bunker.

Bill Fleming

It is a topic worthy of discussion, but by no means a forgone conclusion, KB.

Donald Pay


The same day Gaddafi was killed, a federal judge dismissed the War Powers Act lawsuit of your fellow travelers (led by your comrade, Dennis Kucinich).




"The Republicans are a party that should never be trusted with foreign or military policy"

If you listen to the Democrats talk, you would think that they were Saints.

1. Democrats (Johnson) got America in the Vietnam War
A. 2 Million people died in the vietnam war
B. 58,000 Americans died in vietnam, and another 350,000 were injured

2. Democrats (Truman) got America involved in the Korean war
A. 33,000 Americans were killed in that war

3. Democrats (Truman) dropped 2 atomic bombs on Japan
A. It was Democrat president Harry Truman that dropped the atomic bomb on innocent women and children in Japan, killing over 200,000 innocent civilians.

4. Democrats (Wilson) got America involved in World War 1
A. 37 million people died in that war
B. 117,000 Americans were killed in that war

5. Democrats (FDR) got America involved in World War 2
A. 70 million people died in that war
B. 406,000 Americans died in that war.

6. Democrats (Kennedy) started the Bay of Pigs.

7. Democrats (Carter) involved the U.S. in the Slavadoran Civil War

8. Democrats (Clinton) involved the U.S. in a Coup in Haiti
A. Operation Uphold Democracy

9. Democrats (Clinton) involved the U.S. in the Kosovo Civil War
A. Operation Nobel Anvil

10. Democrats (Clinton) involved the U.S in Bosnia
A. Operation Joint Endevour

11. Democrats (Clinton) involved the U.S. in Somolia
A. Operation Restore Hope


Miranda, my point about staying as far away from this as possible is not farther from the truth. Obama turned everything over to NATO. As is usual, he was "leading from behind" http://www.politico.com/news/stories/0811/61849.html. His whole hope was if things went well, then he could take credit. If not, he could blame NATO.

Bill Fleming

DuggerSD, the way Libya was handled is precisely the same way Bush/Cheney should have handled the Iraq situation.
Reality check: Bush, Cheney and Rumsfeld can't leave the US without some genuine trepidation because there are several nations who want to arrest and try them for war crimes. This is not the case with Barrack Obama. Just sayin'.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: yes, which is more evidence that the WPA is deader than a doornail. To say that we were not involved in "hostilities" in Libya is to say that words have no meaning. You would see that immediately had the war been launched by a Republican.

Donald Pay

The War Powers Act serves a purpose and is not dead. Congress did go on record on the Libya matter. You got your vote under 5 (c) of the WPA thanks to Rep. Kucinich, your comrade.

5(c) of the WPA reads as follows: "Notwithstanding subsection (b), at any time that United States Armed Forces are engaged in hostilities outside the territory of the United States, its possessions and territories without a declaration of war or specific statutory authorization, such forces shall be removed by the President if the Congress so directs by concurrent resolution."

The resolution failed. Project Vote Smart has information on how members voted.


I'll grant that Obama didn't carry out all the requirements under the WPA. Though he did initially consult with Congress his position was that the US active participation in hostilities had ended within the 60 day time period, so he didn't need to. I think that's stretching it, but Congress seemed to agree with him by turning down the resolution.

Bill Fleming

p.s. Thanks for the clarification DuggerSD.

But I fear your remarks are in error... twice.

Most recently in your reply to me:
"Bill, you are apparently unable to read. I did not say he should have asked the GOP for permission. I said he should have asked Congress."

Which was in reference to what you actually wrote:
"...since the Republicans in Congress asked him to so they could authorize the actions."

Clearly it was your writing problem, not my reading problem.

Perhaps you need to be more clear with your pronouns, their antecedents, and your sentence structure in general.

In any sane discussion of language structure, the word "they" in your sentence fragment above references "Republicans" not "Congress" ...unless of course you expect us be mind readers.


Yes, Bill, I stand corrected, however the point is the same. The Republicans were inviting Obama to ask for authorization. And he chose not to. And if Bush had conducted this the same way, you would be on the front lines demanding he seek permission from Congress. Hell, even when he had permission, I am not so sure you thought we were acting legally.

Bill Fleming

DuggerSD, perhaps you should first make sure you know what you think and how best to communicate it before presuming to know how I think and attempting to communicate on my behalf. Suffice it to say that I am not obliged to have an opinion on every single issue, especially not a legal one, since I am poorly qualified in that regard.


I am eternally sorry that I looked at things you have done/said in the past and extrapolated what I believe you would have said had the situation been reversed. However, based upon what I have read in your posts int he past, I think I am right.

Bill Fleming

You don't have to believe everything you think, DuggerSD.

Ken Blanchard

Donald: I concede your point. The War Powers Act is alive in so far as Democrats will shout about it the next time a Republican President puts so much as a laser pointer on a foreign target. Democratic Presidents, if there are anymore, will be allowed to define the terms of the Act in ways that do not restrain them at all. There: are you happy now.

Bill Fleming

(KB talks about "the next time a Republican President..." as if there will actually BE such a time. Don't hold your breath, professor. This could be your last shot at it ;^)

Ken Blanchard

You may be right Bill. Either way, the War Powers Act is dead. All future Presidents will be Democrats and they will use military power as they see fit, Congress notwithstanding. You will always be available to explain how dropping bombs is not really "war".

Of course, you may be wrong. If you are, then some future Republican will be able to make use of the same arguments.

Ken Blanchard

Miranda: I apologize for neglecting your excellent comment until now. I don't think we have any disagreement, substantial or otherwise. Colonel Q should have been arrested and tried, if that were possible. He had his chances. He chose to risk a fight in hopes of holding on to his loot. It is not the case that he deserved to be assassinated because he chose to fight. It is rather the case that if he wanted any protection from the law he would have had to submit to the law. We could only have protected Gaddafi if he had allowed us to protect him. It is important to know this.

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