Obama’s Congressional Rebuke Was No Endorsement of Gaddhafy!
You may have recently read a hallucinatory opinion piece (naturally, I decided not to waste my time on it) that was both deviously and mischievously captioned “Congress Rebukes Obama on Libya.” The facile impression created by the notoriously propagandistic author was that, somehow, the U. S. Congress was diametrically opposed to President Barack H. Obama's incontrovertibly salutary decision to join hands with both the NATO allies and the leaders of the Group of Eight, so-called, to ensure that the forty-two extortionate years of Mr. Muammer Gaddhafy's stranglehold on the Libyan people did not extend any much longer, if at all, beyond 2011.
Already, U. S. Secretary-of-State Hilary Rodham Clinton and the representatives of a little over two dozen nations, including members of the NATO alliance and delegates from the United Nations, the Arab League and the Organization of the Islamic Conference have arrived in Abu Dhabi, the capital of the United Arab Emirates, for talks aimed at mapping out the political and cultural configuration of Libya in the post-Gaddhafy era.
Needless to say, what has been largely and wildly exaggerated as a rebuke of President Obama's military policy agenda on Libya has more to do with the alacrity of the United States' Congress, particularly members of the opposition Republican Party, to officially assume a central role in the ongoing attempt by NATO, staunchly in support of the anti-Gaddhafy Libyan revolutionary forces, to establish the civilized rule of democratic governance in that ancient North African country. It is in direct consequence of the preceding that in unleashing its so-called bi-partisan rebuke nearly a week ago, the lower-house of Congress, or the United States' House of Representatives, invoked the War Powers Act. The latter constitutional edict stipulates the need for the POTUS (or President of the United States) to seek congressional approval in the event of the President's launching of a military strike against any foreign country that lasts for more than 90 days or three months.
And on the preceding score, it goes without saying that President Obama is more than smart and progressive enough to have both promptly recognized and anticipated the imperative need to studiously comply with such sacred constitutional tenet. For instance, the President had earlier on notified the upper-chamber, or the Senate, of the U. S. Congress, rather than jointly and formally apprising both houses of Congress for obvious reasons.
Anyway, before further broaching the latter course of action, suffice it to promptly observe herein that prior to consenting to the Libyan air-strikes, largely and initially in support of both the rebels and the protection of the civilian population, Mr. Obama had not anticipated the measure to last more than several weeks, the longevity of Mr. Gaddhafy's military stranglehold notwithstanding. This primarily accounts for President Obama's initial decision not to allow his Libyan policy agenda to be unnecessarily bogged down by a predictable drawn-out congressional debate, even as the Libyan strongman caused the wanton massacre of hundreds of thousands of defenseless civilians and poorly trained rebels.
Needless to say, the President's decision to first consult with the U. S. Senate and get the latter to pass a statutorily non-binding resolution had more to do with the fact that the upper-house of Congress is controlled by the ruling Democratic Party, whereas the lower-house, or the House of Representatives, is comfortably dominated by the relatively conservative and all-too-cynical Republicans. For instance, in a quite pontifical opinion piece that he wrote and published in the Washington Post, Senator Richard G. Lugar, Republican of Indiana, had the following observation to make, among others: “Further, because the president has not made his case to Congress, the American people have no clear understanding of U. S. interests at stake in Libya, how much it will cost and what other priorities will have to be sacrificed” (See “The Obama Administration's Dangerous Course on Libya” 6/5/11).
The most logical riposte to Senator Lugar's brazen cynicism, falsely parading as reflective statesmanship, is that wherever the human and democratic rights of civilians are summarily denied, or even proscribed, the United States has a bounden obligation to positively respond, especially where an express cri de coeur has been issued by the defenseless targets of such act of wanton dehumanization. And the latter is precisely the case with Libya. Suffice it also to promptly observe in passing, that President Obama's apparent preference for senatorial approval of his Libya policy agenda is smack-dab in synch with the age-old dictum of birds of identical plumage flocking together. Besides, NATO does not operate under the aegis of the Constitution of the United States of America.
Also, contrary to what some faux African nationalists and fanatical non-Libyan supporters of Mr. Gaddhafy would have their audiences believe, President Obama has not declared a full-scale war on Libya the way that former President George W. Bush used the false pretext of Weapons of Mass Destruction (WMDs) to launch a massively apocalyptic strafing and effective occupation of Saddam Hussein's Iraq. Rather, what we have here is the “surgical” removal of a political carcinogen in order to cauterize, sanitize and liberate the Libyan body politic.
Ultimately, in “rebuking” President Obama over his Libya policy agenda, the main grievance of the United States' House of Representatives hinged far, far less on the evidently afterthought “extra-mandate” of regime change, than the ravenous desire of Congress to become a part and parcel of a good thing. In brief, it is nothing short of the clinically addled for anybody to suggest that, somehow, Americans harbor any modicum of affection for political monstrosities like Mr. Gaddhafy. I speak with the studious experience of somebody who has been resident in the United States for a quarter-century.
*Kwame Okoampa-Ahoofe, Jr., Ph.D., is Associate Professor of English, Journalism and Creative Writing at Nassau Community College of the State University of New York, Garden City. He is a Governing Board Member of the Accra-based Danquah Institute (DI) and author of “The Obama Serenades” (Lulu.com, 2011). E-mail: [email protected]