|July 7, 2011
Conor Friedersdorf - The Atlantic
Before the Senate cancelled its vote on the war in Libya, having decided that it’s more important to focus on budget negotiations, Republican Richard Lugar of Indiana gave a 25-minute speech excoriating the Obama Administration. “Defining these actions as something less than hostilities requires extraordinary legal contortion,” he said. “The fact that we are leaving most of the shooting to other nations does not mean that the United States is not involved in acts of war.”
There’s ample evidence to support his position. To cite just one piece, American war planes have flown attack missions over Libya 801 times over the last 3 months, actually dropping ordinance on 132 separate occasions. That raises a question. Where’s all that military hardware coming from? How is it being paid for given that Congress hasn’t approved any funds for this conflict? On Wednesday, a little noticed story in Defense News offered some answers.
“The Pentagon is asking Congress if it can move more than $5 billion in previously allocated funding, including hundreds of millions of dollars to replace bombs dropped during operations in Libya — despite military leaders previously saying replacements would not be needed,” Kate Brannen reports. “This year, the Pentagon needs to replace equipment used in Operation Odyssey Dawn, what the Defense Department called operations in Libya before they were transferred to NATO. The cost includes $310 million to buy Tomahawk missiles, $38 million for Joint Direct Attack Munitions, $15 million for general-purpose bombs and $5 million for Hellfire missiles fired from Predator UAVs. The Pentagon also says it needs hundreds of thousands of dollars for cartridges, fuzes and flares.”
This information doesn’t change anything about the legal status of the war: as noted, we already possessed ample evidence that our military is engaged in hostilities. But rhetorically, it is now possible to demonstrate that reality — and the absurdity of Obama’s Orwellian denial of it — in exciting new ways.