Wednesday, September 04, 2013

"Limited Military Action"

The president doesn't want a war, Mr. Kerry tells us, but rather a "limited military action", which somehow renders it more constitutional.

Mr. Kerry is something of an authority on limited military actions, having cut his finger in one and then given the medals back. (Speaking of old times, remember when Bush was a chickenhawk for having only been in the Air National Guard, Mister President?)

Also, why is Mr. Kerry's face all over my TV screen? And McCain's, too? Didn't we, like, vote them off the island or something?

Anyway, if you want to run a quick thought experiment on whether the Founders would have seen a difference between a "limited military action" and "war", look at it like this: They didn't have cruise missiles in the 18th Century, but if you had sailed the USS Constitution up the Thames and lobbed a broadside into London, you would have had a hard time convincing the Limeys that it wasn't war, just a "limited military action".

Of course, the ink was barely dry on the Constitution before the founders were launching limited military actions against Injuns and Arabs, so apparently "limited military action" is modern PC-speak for "Punitive raid on wogs who can't hit back."


(Also, it appears that Captain Neocon is throwing a snit because he's afraid Obama isn't going to bomb Syria hard enough.)

36 comments:

Matt W said...

"Didn't we, like, vote them off the island or something?"

Wouldn't that make our political system much more interesting and exciting? Instead of re-election where they don't even run against someone of their own party, have a vote of retention therefore forcing new party primaries if a majority vote the critter off the island.

I love it!

Matt said...

I think Jon Stewart pretty much has this covered. In case anyone missed it,
http://youtu.be/tsVW9pjjA7g

Joel said...

Let's not forget the 12,000-odd troops George Washington marched into Pennsylvania in a "limited military action" to protect some tax collectors. Seems to me non-war wars are a venerable American tradition.

Matt W said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Cheesy said...

Yeah, and Vietnam was an "advisors-only police action."

Anonymous said...

"Limited Military Action"--Isn't that like "Almost pregnant" or "Almost a Virgin"?---Ray

Robert Fowler said...

"Mr. Kerry is something of an authority on limited military actions, having cut his finger in one and then given the medals back."

Contrary to what Kerry might think, once medals are issued and entered into your SRB, they can not be "given back".

After his throwing his medals at the White house and his lies about military conduct in Vietnam, he shouldn't be allowed to hold office of any kind. Then there is that whole Paris peace talks thing where he tried to insert himself in the talks on the behalf of North Vietnam, our enemies.

Giving aid and comfort to the enemy, a Kerry tradition for 40 years. Back in my day that was called treason, now it's just politics.

I weep for what this country has become.

Woodman said...

Limited War actions are as old as people are.

As much as certain people like to talk about noble savages being so peaceful if you managed to catch the right guy in the wrong place it was on like Donkey Kong.

Hell, it even happens on a personal basis. Think about your office or place you work where too people aren't actually fighting about something but there is this low level crap being slung back and forth.

Bubblehead Les. said...

So Assad's Daddy used Chemical Weapons in the '80s and the Western Response was Zilch.

Saddam used them against the Kurds and the Western Response was Zilch.

But NOW we are supposed to attack a Country that's been fighting on their own Turf for the last two years, and a Cruise Missile Strike will bring them to their Knees? All because Obama wants to show the World he's a Bad Ass?

I mean, even the Israelis don't want to enter that Quagmire.

I recommend Zilch.

parascribe said...

I think you're misunderstanding their position, in this case "limited military action" clearly refers to using the military to limit any action on the NSA, IRS, Benghazi, Fast and Furious, Obamacare...etc. ad nauseum

Anonymous said...

I was for limited warfare before I was against it. Or was it the other way around?

If they cross the line that I drew in the sand I will deny ever drawing the line.

Remarkable man our President.
Truly unbelievable!


Gerry

Tom B. said...

According to Clausewitz War is an act of force to compel the enemy to do your will. I guess by that definition it's not a war since we don't even know what we want them to do!

Michael said...

Not to get int the way of your snark or anything, but I'm pretty sure Jefferson woulda considered the Barbary Wars a "limited military engagement", considering his notable lack of Congressional authorization and all.

johninMd.(help?!?) said...

Yeah. Ask Jeremiah "liver-eatin'" Johnson about that little misunderstanding w/the Blackfeet; at least they only came at him one at a time.....

Geodkyt said...

Hey, I'm all good with saying we aren't going to hit Syria hard enough.

It's true. We're going to bomb them enough to make things worse, but not employ enough force to actually get the job done.

Since getting the job done would require invasion, occupation, pacification, and rebuilding a la the Axis powers in 1945, I say, "Screw it, let them kill each other." If they attack us or an ally with NBC ordnance, we use the Bush 41 Doctrine -- WMD use begets WMD retaliation. . . and there's only one flavor of WMD in the US arsenal. (Of course, deterrance only works if the other guy believes you can and will respond.)

Tam said...

Michael,

"Not to get int the way of your snark or anything, but I'm pretty sure Jefferson woulda considered the Barbary Wars a "limited military engagement", considering his notable lack of Congressional authorization and all. "

You mean like where I said "the ink was barely dry on the Constitution before the founders were launching limited military actions against Injuns and Arabs"?

1911Man said...

Soldiers in a Limited Military Action can be recommended for a Mauve Heart, an Orchid Heart, or an Eminence Heart, depending on the severity of their wounds. Or a Phlox Heart if they had only the psychological damages.

Anonymous said...

I love that I Democrat president actually got up in front of the cameras and said that the U.S. has to bomb people to be taken seriously. Bonus points for the Nobel Peace Prize.

Drang said...

@johninMd.(help?!?): Crow. Johns(t)on's beef was with then Crow. That's part of what made it so notable, as most Mountain Men got on just fine with the Crow; as you note, it was usually the Blackfoot who gave them problems. (Possibly thanks to the Hudson Bay Company, but that was never proven...)

dave said...

As a counterpoint on the Barbary issue, it could be legitimately argued that it wasn't so much a war as a law enforcement action. Even at that time, piracy on the high seas was recognized as a crime by virtually all nations (a peremptory norm, or jus cogens). Such a violation of accepted international law is generally held to be enforceable by any nation. If it's law enforcement, it's easier for the President to act: the Constitution (Article I, Section 8, Clause 10) authorizes the Congress
To define and punish Piracies and Felonies committed on the high Seas, and Offences against the Law of Nations;
Without looking up the legislative history, I wouldn't be at all surprised to find that the first Congress passed an act defining piracy (it was obviously in everyone's mind, being specifically mentioned in the Constitution) and authorizing the President to crack down on it, that alone would probably be sufficient to authorize any president to use any pirate as a yardarm ornament, anywhere and forever.

My problem with that argument is that the "Law of Nations" is subject to change over time. Genocide only really became contrary to peremptory norms after that nasty little incident in Germany with the Jews; following that, everybody agreed that genocide is A Very Bad Thing, so if the law just says that "violating the Law of Nations means go, man, go!," then the President gained new authority with no action from Congress.

Similarly, the use of Weapons of Mass Destruction is now held to be a violation of the Law of Nations. If the "punishment" is applied to a sufficiently broad definition, the president suddenly has very broad authorization.

(Yes, I'm taking International Law and National Security Law right now in law school. I feel dirty for defending the creep, but there is an argument for the Constitutionality of at least some of this.)

Steve Skubinna said...

Another point, dave, is that "Weapons of Mass Destruction" has been defined down to include pressure cookers stuffed with fireworks.

So just about any of us can now be in violation of "International Law" and entitled to... a drone launched Hellfire through the bedroom window? Hey, it's the law, pal... I don't make them up, I just enforce them.

Rob said...

Blogger Tam said...
"You mean like where I said "the ink was barely dry on the Constitution before the founders were launching limited military actions against Injuns and Arabs"?"

6:37 PM, September 04, 2013


What, you don't actually expect people to read your post before emoting, do you? Next you'll be asking people to engage their brain before running their, er, fingers...

dave said...

Steve, I don't think you'll find the international community has embraced that definition of WMD yet.

Give me the night to chew on this and do more research. I'm fairly sure I'm on to something, but it's possible I'm just on something. I'll have a more substantive comment tomorrow.

Tam said...

dave,

"As a counterpoint on the Barbary issue, it could be legitimately argued that it wasn't so much a war as a law enforcement action."

Right. And the Indians were a sort of 18th Century pest extermination problem?

The point of the matter is that "civilized" countries tend to be a lot more circumspect about wars vis a vis punitive expeditions when the other side can punch back.

Vladimir Putin could nerve gas two million of his own citizens tomorrow and Barry wouldn't launch so much as a bottle rocket, but if I were to use a can of Raid wrong, the EPA would be on me like stink on shit.

global village idiot said...

TomB,

Did you just make the assertion that the President is using the #OCCUPY Doctrine in matters of foreign policy?

Whaddawewant?!
WHATEVER!
Whennawewan'it?!
NOW!!!


gvi

Robin said...

Operation SQUIRREL! is what I am calling it.

Patrick said...

If [insert nation here] worked a submarine up the Atlantic Seaboard and lobbed a few missiles into one of our cities "as a warning", you can bet your ass we'd call it an act of war. Because it would be.

Same here. Obama wants war.

Wherever you fall on the idea of it, you must first admit that we are talking about starting a war with another nation. There is no "limited" action. If we try to kill them, they are free to to try and kill us right back.

Our society has become insulated from war. We fight it like we play video games: by remote control with no real skin in the game. We can literally attack a nation from across the globe with little more risk than a sore finger from pushing the buttons.

Or can we?

Look to the Navy and see how many requests for proposals they have out there for ways to detect enemy subs approaching our shores. Everything from accoustic sensors to snorkel detection. This is one of the few things they are paying for right now.

The Russians had good subs that have been made ridiculously better using rare-earth motors and lithium batteries. Super quiet and longer ranging. The idea that Syria or Iran (who has subs) is unable to mount a lone-wolf mission to NY or even DC is not too far flung.

Does that mean the US should cower from a necessary war (when needed)? No. But the idea that we can "limit" war to the other guys is a concept that we are too accustomed to and one I fear we will soon learn was temporary.

Able said...

"but if you had sailed the USS Constitution up the Thames and lobbed a broadside into London, you would have had a hard time convincing the Limeys that it wasn't war"

Actually, pre this latest vote, if you'd have done just that, aiming precisely at Wastemonster, we'd have called it a favour (and since it was a random blip of sense in a sea of idiocy - we'd still probably see it that way).

dave said...

Tam, I deliberately didn't touch the Indian issue. The question I addressed was about the Constitutionality of chasing pirates. I didn't say I like the idea of the President taking military action without Congress's explicit approval, just that there is at least some justification for it in the Constitution.

And I really don't like where it potentially leads. But that doesn't erase the clause cited.

NotClauswitz said...

Don't forget arming a bunch of "rebels" again, trained by the CIA no less (those paragons of skillful war-making) who will no doubt soon be left in the lurch based on an political timetable.
The worst thing about Foreign Entanglements isn't necessarily the Foreignness but the fact that it becomes a local Political Tool with which to thrash the opposition and gin-up the base.

rickn8or said...

Les said "I recommend Zilch."

"Zilch" works for me.

Also "Bupkis".

Derfel Cadarn said...

I need to ask one question are the people killed during "limited military actions" any less dead ?

Anonymous said...

Limited Military Action = Performance Art by the DOD.

He doesn't care what actually happens. He wants to create the appearance of doing something, to create an impression in the minds of the viewer.

Alath
Carmel IN

Anonymous said...

Don't worry, everything's cool. All the warheads are made from Nobel Peace Prizes.

Ed said...

"Limited military actions" are still acts of war. You can put lipstick on a pig, but it is still a pig.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Lipstick_on_a_pig

mustanger said...

"Don't worry, everything's cool. All the warheads are made from Nobel Peace Prizes.

5:30 PM, September 06, 2013"

I'm thinking it was Ted Nugent, in one of his more recent works, that said "kill 'em all; throw 'em a love grenade".