Libya is another illegal, immoral war

There are better ways to promote democracy in the Middle East

The author is director of the Chico Peace and Justice Center.

No matter how it is rationalized by the Obama administration, the U.S. attack on Libya is immoral, unconstitutional and preposterously expensive. Regardless of arguments from war apologists, the political ends cannot justify the means.

The most disingenuous reason for U.S. military action is the humanitarian rationalization. If the United States (and the rest of the UN Security Council) cared about a government killing its own people, we would also see military involvement in Bahrain, Yemen, Syria, Darfur, Palestine and so on. The people in these countries asked for help against the violence perpetuated by their governments, with their pleas falling on deaf ears. The irony of this argument is that the “protection of civilians” is resulting in the death of civilians in Libya.

The “humanitarian” diversion reminds me of the Afghanistan war apologists: “We are freeing the women.” This argument doesn’t hold true, as the Taliban took over Afghanistan and began repressing Afghan women back in the early 1990s, not in 2001, as the war narrative suggests.

Using the humanitarian distraction offers a false dichotomy. The argument suggests a choice between bombing a country or doing nothing. There are a host of alternatives to this situation, such as sanctions, international pressure and diplomacy. However, the easiest way to promote democracy and peace in the Middle East is to stop arming dictators.

With respect to the constitutionality of this military action, I agree with candidate Obama’s words in 2007 when he referred to the illegal war started by President Bush: “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.” And I still agree with these words as they apply to President Obama. An unconstitutional act is beyond partisanship.

Finally, as the White House and Congress feign their desire to balance the federal deficit, we can refer to our Republican President Eisenhower, “Every gun that is made, every warship launched, every rocket fired, signifies in the final sense a theft from those who hunger and are not fed, those who are cold and are not clothed.” In an era when respect for the United States is at an all-time low, we cannot afford the moral bankruptcy, much less the fiscal waste, of an indefensible attack and an undeclared war on yet another sovereign country.