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Opinion Congress votes on no-fly zone for National Public Radio

Congress votes on no-fly zone for National Public Radio

The day the United Nations Security Council passed UN Resolution 1973 authorizing military action in Libya, our own House of Representatives were busy passing H.R. 1076 – a bill to defund National Public Radio. This new and improved Congress really has their hand on the pulse of the American heartbeat.

Two days later, President Obama initiated military action against Libya, a nation that had not attacked us nor posed any imminent threat to our country. His “authorization” came not from Congress but from the UN. Congress has taken a powder for the last seven decades on its Constitutional mandate to be the entity that declares war. One would think that a body of lawmakers who tout their devotion to the Constitution would take responsibility on its most critical component. One would also think that a president would follow his own advice when he said as candidate Obama back in 2007 - "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."

At least with Iraq, Congress took the time to vote NOT to make a decision and to delegate war making power to the President. In that case, as it is now, those in Congress can safely say they didn't vote for or against a war so their political backside is covered either way.

Obviously, the events in Libya have been very tragic. What started as demonstrations evolved into a civil war. Moammar Gadhafi may be crazy as a fox or just plain crazy, but nevertheless he has the support of a significant part of the Libyan population. And, the support he doesn't have, he can buy in the form of mercenaries. Many analysts thought that he would just slink away like Ben Ali of Tunisia or Egypt's Mubarak. However, at 68 he's only a kid in the geriatric world of Arab dictators with plenty of potential years of murder and mayhem ahead of him.

The demonization, redemption and demonization again of Gadhafi is mind blowing. Back in the 1980's, he was the poster child for state-sponsored terrorism. The most notorious episodes being the Lockerbie bombing involving Pan Am Flight 103 in 1988 and the 1986 Berlin discotheque bombing that would result in US airstrikes days later against Libya. Somehow, as the years rolled by and the oil barrels rolled out, Gadhafi managed to acquire a veneer of respectability replacing his tarnished international image. He became (of all things) an ally with the United States in its “war on terror.” In 2006, then Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice said, “Today marks the opening of a new era in U.S.-Libya relations that will benefit Americans and Libyans alike.” The kinder, gentler Gadhafi was a facade for export only and not for domestic consumption as he ruthlessly consolidated power internally.

Two months ago, Gadhafi and his regime weren't on the political radar map but today their radar installations, and who knows what else, are being blown to bits to keep this rediscovered “madman” in check. Aid and trade with Libya, especially in military weaponry, came primarily from Europe who now along with the United States, are conducting military strikes to protect the people from those weapons.

We are told that the current military action isn't about taking sides but about preserving innocent life. The original concept advertized was to enact a no-fly zone so that Gadhafi couldn't drop bombs on civilians. Fair enough, that concept had some merit. The French who apparently are itching to rebuild their wimpy military persona, started hostilities in Libya by wiping out a tank convoy. Unless they make flying tanks nowadays – mission creep became mission leap in a matter of minutes. Shortly afterward, the US and Britain fired 112 cruise missiles at Libyan targets. While these missiles are highly sophisticated, they can’t, to date, tell the difference between a civilian worker and military personnel at the targets they hit.

There is no such thing as a humanitarian war, or perhaps I should say, humanitarian non-war.

Since there isn't enough support in the Senate to end public radio funding, the House vote is only symbolic, just like Article I Section 8 Clause 11 of the Constitution that defines war powers. How this latest round of military interventionism will play out is anyone's guess. But at least we will be able hear about it on NPR.


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