If there are any side effects or residue left from a straining battle over his possible removal from office, Rep. Charles Rangel did a good job concealing them. What wasn’t hidden was his objection to the Obama administration as it joined a coalition in an attack on Libya last week.
“What needs to be done at this point is a call by the president or the vice president for a special session of Congress to inform us and to ask our position on this matter,” Rangel said during a press briefing Monday afternoon at the State Office Building.
“Obama is going along with past presidents and the United Nations, which is 90 percent [influenced by] the U.S. At the end of the day we pay the price physically and financially.”
Rangel was outraged that President Barack Obama agreed to launch an attack on Libya without consulting Congress, thereby repeating a pattern of previous presidents, including Harry Truman in Korea, Lyndon Baines Johnson in Vietnam and George W. Bush in Iraq. “When they say we should get rid of Gaddafi, who is the ‘we’”? Rangel continued. “Yes, we should have compassion for the rebels, but should we have a number of sleepless nights worrying about getting rid of Gaddafi? I don’t like the idea of his being taken out.”
The congressman stopped short of endorsing Ohio Rep. Dennis Kucinich’s call for an impeachment of Obama, who has charged the president with going beyond constitutional guidelines. “I’ll leave that alone,” Rangel said of his feelings about impeachment. And he used an anecdote from his past to sidestep Minister Louis Farrakhan’s idea of sending a diplomatic team of prominent Black Americans to sit with Gaddafi.
“I was in Tanzania at the time of its independence, and I was asked by some of the leaders, ‘What brings you to our country? Are you also made in America like so many of the bombs falling on our people?’ It dawned on me, from their perspective, that color had nothing at all to do with the situation.”
Critically connected with the recent move by the Obama administration on Libya, which the president said he didn’t need congressional authorization for since the Senate had unanimously approved a resolution calling for the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, Rangel, a decorated soldier of the Korean War, introduced once again–for the fifth time he said–a Universal National Service Act, or a draft bill.
The bill calls for the establishment of a universal requirement for national service. “If you enjoy the benefits of our democracy, then you should be willing and required to contribute to its defense,” he said, reiterating a recently released press statement. “We make decisions about war without worry over who fights them. Those who do the fighting have no choice.”
The Obama administration, Rangel observed, may have no choice about the cost of entering another war or “what’s the end game and how do we get out of it.”