”Bordering on the Fantastic”
Vol: 114 Issue: 22 Tuesday, March 22, 2011
When a member of Serbia’s “Black Hand” separatist group assassinated Archduke Ferdinand in Sarejevo on 28 June 1914, nobody yet knew that would be the spark that triggered the First World War.
Here’s how it all happened. Austria-Hungary issued an ultimatum to Serbia. It was intended as a “limited” war to teach the upstart Serbs to respect their betters.
But things quickly got out of hand:
- Serbia was allied to Russia, which was treaty-bound to defend them. Russia rushed to mobilize its forces.
- Germany was allied to the Austro-Hungarian Empire. When the Russians sided with Serbia, Germany sided with Austria/Hungary.
- France was bound by treaty to Russia. When Germany declared war on Russia, France declared war on Germany, which also meant a declaration of war on Austro-Hungary.
- Britain was allied with France. The British determined that they had a moral obligation to defend France. Britain was also bound to Belgium by treaty.
- When the Germans invaded Belgium, England was at war with both Germany and Austro-Hungary.
- With Britain’s entry into the war, her colonies and dominions abroad variously offered military and financial assistance, and included Australia, Canada, India, New Zealand and the Union of South Africa.
- Japan was bound by treaty to Great Britain, forcing Japan’s entry into the war on the side of the Allies.
In 1936, the Italians invaded Ethiopia. Nobody knew at the time that would set the stage for a global political meltdown, the collapse of the League of Nations and the inexorable slide into yet a second World War.
Nobody was entirely certain what would happen when Austria issued its ultimatum to Serbia – nobody had thought it through.
When the Italians, Germans and Japanese got up and walked out of the League of Nations, nobody had really thought through what it would mean in the long run.
But in both instances, the world was divided up into special interest blocs, or alliances. It was these special interest groups, or alliances, that were responsible for Austria’s “splendid little war” escalating into the War to End All Wars, and its successor, the War to End All Wars Part Two.
In 2011, the world is divided into special interest blocs, or alliances. The former Soviet Union’s traditional satellite states are primarily in the Arab Middle East and included Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, Libya, Egypt, etc.
The Russians are so entrenched in this part of the world that the Russian AK47 is a symbol of both militant Islam and Marxist revolution.
The other day, the United States decided to join France and Great Britain in a splendid little war against Libyan strongman Muamar Ghadaffi. The purpose of American involvement is very specific.
We are there to protect an unidentified rebel force of which we know nothing from being slaughtered by Libya’s military by destroying Libya’s military capability.
Our military mission IS NOT to capture, kill or remove Ghadaffi from power. No, no.
Regime change in Libya is America’s stated policy, but NOT its military mission. America’s military mission in Libya is to use any means necessary to protect the rebels.
Why? We’re not really sure, since we don’t know anything about them.
Are they an oppressed people yearning to be free of Ghadaffi’s yoke? Or are they al-Qaeda? Or some similar anti-Western Islamic group?
I don’t know – and from what I can learn, neither does anyone else.
Libya’s former allies in Russia are calling the UN mission “another Crusade”. The Arab League, which initially pressed the UN for a no-fly zone over Libya, is getting cold feet as the Western Allies continue to grind Libya’s military to dust.
This evidently isn’t what they had in mind. Nobody is sure WHAT the UN Security Council had in mind when it authorized action against Libya. Noted the Washington Post:
The confusion over the mission, meanwhile, has spread beyond Libya. On Monday, NATO members bickered over whether what began as a relatively straightforward effort aimed at preventing Gaddafi from launching airstrikes against his people had turned into a more punitive action directed at his military forces, according to a European diplomat.
The disputes appear to have delayed U.S. efforts to turn the command of the operation over to NATO in the next few days. As of Monday evening, it remained unclear when responsibility would shift and who would assume it.
What is America’s objective? To protect the rebels? How will we know when it has been achieved? The President was specific when he said our mandate was not to remove Ghadaffi or topple his regime – that is our national policy, but NOT our intention.
Our intention is . . . what was our intention again?
Former US Ambassador to the UN John Bolton called Obama’s statement about America’s mission “contradictory to the point of bordering on the fantastic.”
What happens if the rebels don’t win? According to American commanders, a scenario that leaves Ghadaffi in power after the dust settles would be in harmony with their mission objectives.
So how will we know when the mission objectives have been completed? If Ghadaffi is killed, who will replace him? Who will decide? What if the rebel leader to emerge is worse? It’s entirely possible.
“The United States has run into some criticism for the intensity of the firepower used on Libya, which included more than 110 Tomahawk missiles fired on Saturday to take out Libya’s air defenses and allow Western planes to patrol the skies.
Although a U.N. resolution authorized “all necessary measures” to protect civilians, Arab League chief Amr Moussa has questioned the methods used, while Russian Prime Minister Vladimir Putin compared the air campaign to “medieval crusades.”
It is important to keep in mind that the president is STILL in Latin America, where he has been since the first US airstrike hit Libyan soil.
“Security analysts say they are unclear what will happen if the Libyan leader digs in, especially since Western powers have made clear they would be unwilling to see Libya partitioned between a rebel-held east and Gaddafi-controlled west.
“Libya will not be a cakewalk,” said Glen Howard, president of the Jamestown Foundation think tank.
It may not be a cakewalk at home, either. Candidate Obama made headlines when as a “Constitutional scholar” he opined:
“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”
George Bush obtained Congressional approval before launching the war in Afghanistan in 2002 and the war in Iraq in 2003 and he still got hammered.
Congress is furious that Obama committed the United States to a third war based on authorization from the United Nations as if that made Congressional approval irrelevant.
“In a followup question in its December 2007 interview, the Boston Globe asked Obama if the Constitution gave the president the power to disregard a congressional statute putting some type of limit on the way troops could be deployed. Here, too, Obama deferred to the constitutional authority of Congress.
“No, the President does not have that power,” Obama told the paper. “To date, several Congresses have imposed limitations on the number of US troops deployed in a given situation. As President, I will not assert a constitutional authority to deploy troops in a manner contrary to an express limit imposed by Congress and adopted into law.”
Evidently, Constitutional requirement of Congressional authorization before a president can start a war is secondary to a new ‘core’ principle that makes the United States subordinate to the United Nations, which is ALSO forbidden by the Constitution.
“The core principle that has to be upheld here is that when the entire international community almost unanimously says that there is a potential humanitarian crisis about to take place, that a leader who has lost his legitimacy decides to turn his military on his own people, that we can’t simply stand by with empty words,” Obama told reporters during a trip to Chile. “That we have to take some sort of action.”
The other “core principle” — the one that says the United States is a republic subordinate to the rule of law as established by Congress has evidently been abolished by imperial decree. We have to take some sort of action, even if we aren’t sure what it should be?
Watching it all unfold is like watching a movie about how a series of cascading errors and miscalculations conspired together to bring about a world war. Only it isn’t a movie, it is real life.
And currently, the United States is involved in three separate and distinct wars that now involve at least twenty different countries and the United Nations. How does one define a ‘world’ war? Are we in one now?
And of all the unanswered questions surrounding the Libyan action, the most troubling one is still, “Who is in charge?”
It certainly can’t be President Obama. He isn’t even home.