Open Thread & News Round-Up: Libya

Here's some of what I've been reading this morning. Please feel welcome and encouraged to leave additional links in comments. The same commenting guidelines are still in effect.

The Guardian's live blog is here.

Al Jazeera's live blog is here.

CNN's live blog is here.

New York TimesAmerican Warplane Crashes in Libya as Ground Fighting Continues: "Ground fighting raged in Libya on Tuesday and an American fighter jet crashed overnight in the first known setback for the international coalition attacking forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. ... According to the United States military, the F-15E Strike Eagle warplane went down late Monday 'when the aircraft experienced equipment malfunction.' The aircraft, normally based in England, was flying out of Aviano Air Base in northeastern Italy when it crashed.'Both crew members ejected and are safe,' an American statement said."

The Telegraph has images of the wreckage and more info here.

ABC News—In Official Notification Two Days Later, President Obama Alerts Congress the US Joined a War: "President Obama Monday officially notified congressional leaders that at 'approximately 3:00 p.m. Eastern Daylight Time, on March 19, 2011, at my direction, U.S. military forces commenced operations to assist an international effort authorized by the United Nations (U.N.) Security Council and undertaken with the support of European allies and Arab partners, to prevent a humanitarian catastrophe and address the threat posed to international peace and security by the crisis in Libya.' ... The White House has pushed back against claims that Congress was insufficiently consulted, noting that the president met with congressional leaders the day before the attack and the administration has provided testimony and background briefings on the latest from Libya."

The President's letter can be viewed here (pdf).

The HillObama faces bipartisan pushback on force; US has no 'King's army':
President Obama has long trumpeted a desire to see lawmakers from both sides come together in bipartisan fashion, and now they have: to criticize his military action in Libya without formally consulting Congress.

In a harshly worded statement Monday evening, Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R-Md.) declared, "The United States does not have a King's army."

...Sen. Richard Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee and a frequent ally of the president on foreign policy, also called Monday for "full congressional debate on the objectives and costs" of military action in Libya — and a declaration of war if it goes on.

"There needs to be a plan about what happens after [Moammar] Gadhafi," Lugar (Ind.) said in a statement. "Who will be in charge then, and who pays for this all. President Obama, so far, has only expressed vague hopes."

Criticism has come just as quickly, and just as forcefully, from Democrats.

Sen. Jim Webb (D-Va.), a member of the Armed Services Committee, told MSNBC Monday "this isn't the way our system is supposed to work."

"We have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way," said Webb. "The president is in Rio, the Congress is out of session."

..."I truly believe … that before we put our young people in harm's way that people in the Congress should be able to explain to their constituents that our national security was in jeopardy," [Rep. Charles Rangel (D-NY)] said.
As much as I genuinely appreciate these issues being raised by members of Congress, irrespective of their party, I really wonder where the hell they were when Bush was doing the same thing, and on a much larger scale. That's not to say they shouldn't challenge the constitutionality of this war effort now, but to say they should have done it then, too.

SalonCost of Libya campaign in the hundreds of millions: "The cost of the bombing will easily surpass the annual funding for NPR and Planned Parenthood."

The AtlanticThe War in Libya and the Deficit at Home:
The suggestion that wars are bad for the deficit sounds unfeeling. The benefits of liberal democracies in Africa and the Middle East cannot be captured in deficits and bond yields. But still, it cannot be said enough: Wars cost real money, too.

Unlike human liberty, dollars in an austere country are zero sum. A dollar we spend on a bomb in Tripoli is a dollar that didn't go to food stamps, or highway reconstruction, or tax credits to the middle class. The Tomahawk missiles falling on Libya, for example, cost about $700,000 each. The United States fired 110 of those missiles on Saturday, totaling $81 million. "That's about 33 times the amount of money National Public Radio receives in grants each year from the Corporation for Public Broadcasting, which the House of Representatives also wants to de-fund in the name of austerity measures," Abu Muqawama writes. The initial stages of the war could cost the U.S. between $400 million and $800 million, according to the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments. That's almost half the controversial cuts to heating subsidies for low-income families.

...[A]t a time when we won't allow additional spending to help an unemployed population the size of Florida, I'd hope to see Washington as stingy about money spent on Tripoli as it is about money spent on Trenton.
Meanwhile, CNN is reporting as breaking news that the Spanish parliament has approved its country's involvement in coalition assault on Moammar Gadhafi's regime in Libya.

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