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October 03, 2012

Waivers, False Choices, Dishonest Rhetoric

As for our common defense, we reject as false the choice between our safety and our ideals. Our Founding Fathers -- (applause) -- our Founding Fathers, faced with perils that we can scarcely imagine, drafted a charter to assure the rule of law and the rights of man -- a charter expanded by the blood of generations. Those ideals still light the world, and we will not give them up for expedience sake.

Barack Obama, Inaugural Address

How does one square the assertion that any conflict between our ideals and our security is a "false choice" with this?

MEMORANDUM FOR THE SECRETARY OF STATE

SUBJECT: Determination with Respect to the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008

Pursuant to section 404 of the Child Soldiers Prevention Act of 2008 (CSPA) (title IV, Public Law 110-457), I hereby determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to Libya, South Sudan, and Yemen; and further determine that it is in the national interest of the United States to waive in part the application of the prohibition in section 404(a) of the CSPA with respect to the Democratic Republic of the Congo, to allow for continued provision of International Military Education and Training funds and nonlethal Excess Defense Articles, and the issuance of licenses for direct commercial sales of U.S. origin defense articles; and I hereby waive such provisions accordingly.

Is it, or is it not the purpose of this law to prevent the United States from providing military aid to nations that use children as soldiers?

The ideal here seems straightforward. Waiving enforcement of such a law seems to suggest that there was indeed a conflict between our ideals and our national security interests.

As does not closing Gitmo. But apparently, the term "false choices" only applies to the previous occupant of the White House.

Posted by Cassandra at October 3, 2012 04:50 AM

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Comments

You're an angel, Miss. You've said almost everything I would. With the sole exception of the fact that (and it hardly even need be mentioned) that the press would have absolutely excoriated a Republican President who issued waivers. And multiple ones at that.

Posted by: MikeD at October 3, 2012 09:22 AM

For Pete's sake, woman. When do you sleep?!?

Posted by: spd rdr at October 3, 2012 09:41 AM

Oh, and I'm going to respond to Grim's post here, as it's more appropriate over here.

Mike:

I didn't see your comment before -- you may have written that while I still had an old version of the page up.

Not a problem sir, it's a common problem with the format of the internet. I never take offense at such.

The problem in Libya particularly is that the new government has only existed at all for about a year, and it still hasn't even reigned in full control of the multiple militias. Some of these are Qaeda-aligned, and others are not. If they are to sort out which ones are which, and bring the good ones into order, they're probably going to need some help.

I would still need to disagree. We've been trying to do this same thing for nearly ten years in Afghanistan, and we're failing at it miserably there. And in Afghanistan, we even have the advantage of thousands of troops on the ground. We cannot even keep our Ambassador safe in Libya. I'd much rather they sort this out BEFORE we spend lives and treasure helping them.

US Special Forces are ideal for this kind of mission, in which you have to train allies while derailing a potential (or actual) insurgency that may have terrorist ties. This kind of mission is called FID ("foreign internal defense") and it is one of the core competencies of USSF.

I do not question their ability nor their competency. I have full faith that they would do their utmost to accomplish the mission they were tasked with. I question whether they would have the support they need from this feckless administration, especially given the revelations regarding the security situation for our Ambassador.

The law would prohibit us spending money to have USSF partner with the Libyans, though, as well as other purposes. It's precisely because its dangerous that we ought to have them engaged.

Why we need to do so in Libya, but not in Somalia where the exact same situation exists. Somalia has never been granted a waiver, and yet they are a mirror of Libya in this. And, as has been asked already, what is the point of a law if we're just going to grant waivers to avoid it. Worse, to grant waivers to almost every country covered by the law. Doing so undermines the rule of law itself, and once more demonstrates the unbridled arrogance of this Administration that they will simply ignore laws they find inconvenient.

Posted by: MikeD at October 3, 2012 10:08 AM

For Pete's sake, woman. When do you sleep?!?

Ppppphhhhhttttthhhh :)

zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz....

Posted by: Cassandra at October 3, 2012 10:59 AM

When you're running for office and the press isn't interested in scrutinizing you, everything's a false choice. You can promise everybody everything, even diametrically opposed goodies.

Posted by: Texan99 at October 3, 2012 02:50 PM

Waiving enforcement of such a law....

But you have to understand--nothing of ours applies to the wogs.

More seriously, ...the new government has only existed at all for about a year, and it still hasn't even reigned in full control of the multiple militias.

I agree with MikeD, but for a different set of reasons. Our own government was in existence for a number of years, and we had to swap it out for a wholly new one, before we got control of, among other things, the multiple militias extant. And our militias agreed with each other in fundamental mindset and political philosophy and the role of government. To quote a President, such a thing " is hard." The militias in Libya, Afghanistan, et al., don't even have that fundamental agreement.

But the problem is, in some respects, irrelevant. Our mission in Afghanistan was not to nation build, but to trash al-Qaeda and the Taliban. Our mission in Libya, such as it was, was to sit on the sidelines and look official. Oh, yeah, and to supply the ordnance and refueling and...when the Europeans ran out in the third day. In neither case was it intended to be nation-building or humanitarian.

Accordingly, having accomplished our "mission" in Libya, and having reached stalemate in Afghanistan with the mission half accomplished, it's time to pull the troops from the one and not put any into the other, without a careful delineation--and explanation to We the People--of a new mission. Which we won't get out of the present administration.

And frankly, I'd be more inclined to make a move to support the current Libyan government than I would to move anew to support the Afghan, or Egyptian, governments.

...what is the point of a law if we're just going to grant waivers to avoid it. Worse, to grant waivers to almost every country covered by the law.

As well ask this of the sanctions against Iran--which have been waived for the 20 largest trading partners Iran has. We can't trust this administration. We can't trust this Commander-in-Chief. I'm disinclined to commit many more troops to combat under his leadership. For him they're just fasces--symbols of his personal power.

Drink your milk and get back to your nap, Cassandra.

Eric Hines

Posted by: E Hines at October 3, 2012 04:41 PM

Does this post mean you will be live-blogging the debates with a gallon IV of Kahlua?

I have popcorn ready for throwing.

Posted by: Carolyn at October 3, 2012 06:01 PM

Yes, and I plan to chug every time he looks down his nose at the camera.

I should be well and truly snockered 5 minutes in...

Posted by: Princess Leia, Wearing a Bikini Made of Grumpiness at October 3, 2012 07:11 PM

For Pete's sake, woman. When do you sleep?!?

Sunday. Of course, n'est-ce pas?

Posted by: Grim at October 3, 2012 08:10 PM

Mike:

We can disagree on this one, as you like. I just think Libya is a case where we need an engagement, because the situation there is rapidly developing in terms of political arrangements, but will not always be. Either we get in the door now, and train them in the right way, or they'll harden in some form we don't inform. We might get lucky; we might not. Somalia, to take your counterexample, isn't in a similar period of transition.

Posted by: Grim at October 3, 2012 08:12 PM

We can disagree on this one, as you like.

Dammit, I don't LIKE disagreeing with you! :)

Posted by: MikeD at October 4, 2012 10:40 AM

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