Category Archives: War

A Talk For World Peace With The Dalai Lama

I was lucky enough to be in attendance at the World Peace Talks at the Capitol building here in D.C. this last Saturday (we even got front row seats on the lawn!), where the Dalai Lama spoke at length with a gathering of people from all different walks of life.  The Dalai Lama is a truly wise man, and although we may differ in our spiritual perspectives, I found myself in wholehearted agreement with the philosophies he espoused to the massive crowd that had gathered.

If you have the time, I encourage you to watch the video of his talk on finding inner peace as a means of affecting peace in the world. Later on, he responds to submitted questions, and at the end he even took one that was shouted from a young man in the crowd about dealing with corrupt officials in our government. My favorite part is around 53 minutes in when his holiness helps Whoopi adjust her microphone headset- priceless! Without further ado, here’s the video. Share it as you will.

Now this is a man who knows how to make progress!

Painfully. Slow. Progress.

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It’s Only War When Real People Get Killed

We are at war with Libya. We are using our Air Force to drop bombs on Libyan soil. We are using unmanned drones to drop bombs on Libyan soil. We are  launching Tomahawk missiles at Libyan soil. Libyan civilians are being killed, in the thousands, by our bombs, on Libyan soil. If we came close enough that Libyan forces could do us harm, they would. We are at war with Libya.

Unfortunately, President Obama disagrees with me (this does not happen very often). He contends that our engagements in Libya are not war, they’re… they’re… well they’re not war. He says since U.S. forces aren’t in jeopardy, it doesn’t count (Unilateral war isn’t war? Good one). That pretty much sums up what he’s told us so far.

Why doesn’t Obama want to call our engagements in Libya war? Because if these are acts of war, he would be required by both the Constitution and the War Powers Act of 1973 to seek congressional approval to continue. He doesn’t think he would get that approval, so he’s avoiding seeking it.

Now there is something to be said for that. I think we can all agree that Libya was just a few steps away from full-on genocide when coalition forces first intervened. On the other hand, NATO forces responded and are in fact still overseeing operations in Libya. Just because we can get involved, doesn’t mean we should. We are in the midst of an economic stall, one that is only worsened by political divisiveness and stalemates.

Also, given the massive sums of money that we’ve spent on wars over the last ten years alone, and the number of innocent civilians we’ve slaughtered in the process (whoever calls them “surgical airstrikes” can operate on someone else), it doesn’t seem so unreasonable that the American people have a say in where we get involved. Congress, as representatives of the people, needs to have the opportunity to speak on their behalf. My guess is that at this point in time, given the state of the economy, their answer to the question of whether we should be involved might be a resounding “HELL NO!” Then again, given the fact that as a NATO ally we are at least partially obligated to offer assistance, they might vote to have our military act in a strictly support role.

But I speculate. The point is this- the reason the Constitution and the War Powers Act require the approval of the legislative branch is to keep the decision of whether our country starts or engages in armed conflicts with other countries in the hands of many, as opposed to the hands of just one. These provisions are what solidify our country as a democracy, rather than some sort of military dictatorship. When I hear that Obama is ordering airstrikes in Libya without congressional approval because he was somehow able to finagle out of the definition of “war”, it feels extremely undemocratic to me, not to mention that it smacks of total bullshit.

I, like Obama, do believe that the U.S. can be a force for good in the world. However, I think if we are going to exercise our power internationally then it needs to be in a carefully regulated and well-thought out manner, preferably a democratic one. Simply manufacturing and taking advantage of a loophole is not well- thought out. In this instance, it opens the door to attack anyone on a whim, so long as we’re careful not to come into firing distance of those we want to attack. By that reasoning, we could send a stealth bomber to drop another nuke on Hiroshima, and it wouldn’t be a problem, because that is not an act of war. Yeah, that makes sense. Wait. No.

Painfully. Slow. Progress.