Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Letter to McGovern on Libya

Dear friends,

Here is an improved version of the letter I just sent to Rep. McGovern urging his support for H. Con. Res. 31 requiring a Congressional debate of the U.S. War on Libya.

I see President Obama's actions as a grave threat to what is left of the power of Congress to decide on war and peace, indeed as an assault on democracy itself in the name of democracy. If Congress then has no power over matters of war and peace, if it is to be confined to domestic matters when half the Federal budget (and the entire Federal deficit) are for war, to whom will we then write or whom will we attempt to influence when we want to influence our country's policies?


"Dear Rep. McGovern,

"I am writing to urge your support and sponsorship of H. Con. Res. 31 - "expressing the sense that the President is required to obtain in advance specific statutory authorization for the use of United States Armed Forces in response to civil unrest in Libya."

"The war on Libya is wrong in many ways. It is a blatant intervention in a civil war - at first thinly disguised as a humanitarian mission but now brazenly committed to regime change - a goal which was never the UN or the Arab League mandate. The outbreak of demonstrations was used to launch an apparently planned and organized armed uprising, reportedly involving some very unsavory characters with connections to Western intelligence agencies and/or Al Qaeda - some with American blood on their hands - and now the US and its allies have committed to their victory in a war they now say will end only when Qaddafi has been removed.

"It is foreseeable that the result of the war and our intervention will be the destruction of what was a relatively prosperous, relatively modern country, and that the primary beneficiaries will be the oil companies. Presented as a humanitarian intervention, it is almost certainly killing far more people than it is saving, and prolonging a war that was nearly over. And the cost - already huge - will continue accruing because - as the generals as much admitted with their estimate of the cost per year of this adventure - peace will not come to Libya soon.

"Most seriously, President Obama hasn't even a fig-leaf behind which to hide his trashing of the War Powers Act; he is blatantly saying that this is not defense against an assault on or even a threat to America or its armed forces, but a matter of pursuing his ("our") interests and values - clearly a matter that legally requires prior Congressional authorization. The searing irony of Obama's speech was his presentation of this grave assault on the norms of American democracy and on the Constitution itself as a grand and selfless defense of democracy.

"Congress must force a debate and a vote on this war, or it may well mark the end to any formal democratic control or influence over our government's foreign policy, and the end to people's belief that Congress has any power worth calling on. Your loud and vocal opposition will at least give heart to those resisting this usurpation of power, and remind us all that there is a kernel of dedicated progressives around whom we can rally as we try to salvage or reclaim popular sovereignty in America.

"I urge you therefore to co-sponsor and spare no effort in support of H. Con. Res. 31 requiring a Congressional debate of the U.S. War on Libya.

"Your friend and supporter,"

(Signature, street address, city, zip, phone)
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