Point of View Columns

Weekend Edition – April 1, 2011

The weekend begins with April Fool’s Day and, incredibly enough, more birther madness. Barack Obama has been President of the United States for two years and 2 ½ months and there are still some people who just can’t let it go – “this must be a mistake” is their line of reasoning.

Meanwhile we continue to try to make sense of the Libyan conundrum and the slippery slope to which it leads even as the fiscal conservatives on the right wing of the right wing are notably silent about the cost of this venture.

Birther Madness —Really??

This week we were subjected to the renowned genealogical expert Donald Trump proclaiming that there are “serious questions” regarding the location of Barack Obama’s birth. He falsely stated that President Obama’s birth certificate has not been made available to the public (it has been online for three years).

Presumably, on the Planet Trump “reasonable people” have a right to question Barack Obama’s place of birth without a shred of evidence to support that question – and presumably these “reasonable people” can also question legitimacy of his presidency rather than consider the policies and accomplishments of his Administration.

Interestingly enough, Mr. Trump brought his own birth certificate to one of his endless series of television appearances. Interestingly enough, the document that he brought was not an official birth certificate – he brought a document that stated that he was born at Jamaica Hospital in New York, but an OFFICIAL birth certificate in New York City can only be issued by the New York City Health Department – and he did not bring that birth certificate.

Perhaps The Donald is laying the groundwork for a new television show, “The Secret Alien”.

The Libyan Conundrum

At the beginning of the week President Obama addressed the nation to explain the policy underlying American military intervention in Libya. The president was eloquent and factual and referred to the prevention of a human tragedy in Libya if the United States had not intervened, working in concert with its NATO allies.

Barack Obama was elected to make the hard decisions that few of us would aspire to consider, much less make. The commitment of military personnel and resources should never be taken lightly. The Defense Department estimates that $600 million dollars has been spent so far and that the upcoming tab will be in the neighborhood of $40 million per day.

There are CIA operatives in Libya now and sadly, it seems that it will only be a matter of time before there are American casualties to add to the mounting number of Libyan dead and wounded.

Accepting President Obama’s sliding scale for applying military solutions, it is still not clear as to what this country should do in Syria where there is a revolt brewing at this very moment and the Assad family that rules the government shows no signs of leaving.

And what about Egypt, where revolt is simmering again as the promise of revolution has not been realized with the departure of Hosni Mubarak?

And, as we have noted before, what about Cote d’Ivoire where the head of state, the loser of an election in November has simply refused to leave, precipitating a civil war with civilian deaths being recorded every day? And what about Zimbabwe and Yemen?

This is the slippery slope that beckons. We can only hope that the president treads carefully.

Budget Mystery

As the Libyan conflict has played out there has been little, if any concern expressed by the right wing of the right wing regarding the cost of this expedition.

As noted, over $600 million has been spent to date with no ceiling or final price tag.
Nevertheless, the same fiscal conservatives who have proposed to defund Head Start and food stamp programs along with NPR have expressed no criticism of President Obama spending hundreds of millions of dollars without explicit Congressional approval for a military purpose.

The irony is certainly self-evident. Enough said.

Have a great weekend!

Be My Guest

“Be My Guest” column by Herb Boyd

So Much Trouble in the World

It is safe to assume that the battlefronts in Libya—like the opinion of the American public on the intervention—will continue to fluctuate by the day, if not for the coming weeks. At the top of the week it was reported that the rebels were steadily advancing from their stronghold in Benghazi along the coastal highway to Tripoli, Col. Muammar Gaddafi’s bastion.

Two days later the rebels were in retreat as Gaddafi’s troops pushed them back from the commander’s homeland of Surt. So long as the NATO forces (read US) were battering Gaddafi’s forces, the rebels were able to gain territory and capture cities on the march to Tripoli. But it appears that Tomahawk and Cruise missiles and bombs can only do so much in unseating Gaddafi, that ground troops may be necessary to completely dislodge him.

Those troops won’t come from the U.S. President Obama has promised repeatedly, stressing that point in his recent address to the American people. Even so, if a regime change is to occur then the NATO warplanes and airstrikes will have to test their precision in bombarding Tripoli, targeting Gaddafi without killing and injuring thousands of innocent civilians.

Most military experts believe that Gaddafi is entrenched and that ground forces will have to be deployed to complete the mission of removing the “tyrant,” as Obama has defined Gaddafi. But that deployment, according to Retired Lt. Gen. Russell Honore will not be easy.

Aiding the rebels will require Special Forces, prepared to train the rebels in order to provide maximum effectiveness for any kind of materiel support, Lt. Gen. Honore said during a recent appearance on CNN. On a prior appearance on the station, Honore seemed to feel Gaddafi was on the ropes and had no option but to resign. Apparently he has changed his tune and now feels that NATO or somebody is going to have to commit ground troops in Libya to defeat Gaddafi.

“Just supplying the rebels with arms is not enough,” Honore said. “They have to be properly trained to use the weapons,” especially heavy artillery, rocket launchers, and other sophisticated equipment. Otherwise, he added, we are doomed to make the same mistakes the U.S. made in arming other so-called freedom fighters, particularly the mujahedeen in Afghanistan.

On the matter of U.S. supporting the rebels, it was disclosed a few days ago that the Obama administration had authorized the CIA to conduct secret funding the rebels, but no weapons, supposedly, have not been supplied yet. Don’t bet on that.

And even after Gaddafi is done away with, what comes next? Ayatollahs? Al Qaeda? Another ruthless dictator?

“So much trouble in the world”, Bob Marley once sang and the U.S. is in no position to solve or settle any of the conflict, and shouldn’t unless the American people face imminent danger.

Herb Boyd is an author, activist, teacher and journalist and is a roving reporter for http://www.television.org – He is a resident of Harlem, New York