Participants in the national demonstration against all the wars from Central Asia to the Middle East and North Africa. (Photo: Abayomi Azikiwe), a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
6 in 10 Americans Now Oppose Obama's War in Libya
By Conor Friedersdorf
The president has made himself vulnerable by launching the conflict without congressional cover. Will Republicans capitalize?
Six in 10 Americans don't think the U.S. should be involved in Libya, according to a new CBS News poll. It found that only 30 percent of Americans think we're doing the right thing by intervening militarily in that country. That includes majorities of Republicans, Democrats and independents. As a point of comparison, 51 percent of Americans and a majority of Republicans think we're "doing the right thing" in Afghanistan. The Libya numbers are bad news for the man in the Oval Office.
What does it mean for a president seeking reelection to have launched a wildly unpopular war without congressional approval? That his Republican challengers should run to President Obama's left on at least some aspects of national security. It might've been awkward to do so given that much of Obama's national security strategy is identical to the one that Republicans praised under George W. Bush. But this affords a surprisingly easy opportunity to win support from an electorate that is tiring of expensive foreign wars: The GOP nominee need not disavow conflicts like Iraq and Afghanistan that rank and file conservatives defended for so long. He or she need only rail against the expense, execution, and questionable strategic value of fighting in Libya.
Had President Obama made a case to Congress before involving America, he almost certainly would've received substantial support among Republicans. At the time, much of the conservative movement was criticizing him for "dithering." Said John Bolton in a March 18 interview with National Review: "We have lost a huge opportunity by waiting to act so late. A real president would have had his military plan ready to go the minute that resolution was adopted, and he would have implemented it." Since Obama didn't go to Congress, however, he has ensured that fewer Republicans were on record, reducing his cover, enabling his potential challengers to take a wait and see approach, and substantially increasing the chance that he'll pay a political price.
Unless you're a Republican who foolishly complained that President Obama was insufficiently hawkish -- like Mitt Romney, for example -- the attack ads write themselves. In fact, Obama himself will end up having written some of them, since they're certain to use his words: "The president does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." It won't help him that senators from both parties are now teaming up to criticize the way he's handled this conflict. Meanwhile, between 10,000 and 15,000 people are estimated killed so far in Libya.
Isn't that the sort of thing that causes blowback?
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Published: June 10, 2011
Webb Lights Into Obama Over Libya
By The News & Advance
No one’s ever accused Jim Webb, Virginia senior U.S. senator, of pulling any punches, of not telling anyone exactly what’s on his mind.
Whether or not you like him, whether or not you agree with him, you have to respect him for speaking truth to power.
Soon after he was elected to the Senate in 2006, he infamously refused to shake hands with then-President George W. Bush because of deep-seeded disagreements over the U.S. invasion of Iraq. When President Barack Obama’s health care reform bill came up for a vote in the Senate, Webb — though he voted for the legislation — raked the president over the coals for how the packaged had been rammed through Congress.
Now, once again, it’s President Obama on the receiving end of Webb’s wrath, this time over the administration’s initiation of military action in Libya against the regime of dictator Moammar Gadhafi.
On Wednesday, Webb and Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., introduced a resolution to compel the administration to submit an unclassified report to Congress in justification of U.S. military actions in Libya and that would prohibit the deployment of any U.S. troops on the ground.
Under the War Powers Act, the president is supposed to come to Congress within 60 days of the commencement of military actions involving U.S. troops and seek the legislative branch’s approval. If not, the law requires their withdrawal.
It’s now been 80 days since the United States military, along with NATO, began enforcing a no-fly zone over Libya, ostensibly to protect the anti-Gadhafi forces and civilians in rebel-held area.
Billions of dollars are spent. American lives are at risk every day, yet, as Corker said, “Neither the Congress nor the American people have any clearer view of the administration’s stated mission or endgame.”
Speaking to their resolution from the floor of the Senate this week, Webb characteristically pulled no punches in his criticism of the Obama administration.
“Our three branches of government were carefully designed by the Founding Fathers to guard against hasty decisions or judgments that would not be fully in the national interests,” Webb said. Congress, he said, has “the specific power to rein in such conduct and to protect our people from unwise choices by insisting on a democratic consensus.”
Libya, from the start, has been a murky engagement. Gadhafi viciously went after his own citizens, prompting the West’s intervention, yet dictators in Syria and Yemen are engaging in the same behavior with no U.S. military action. To this day, the president has not offered a viable reason either to Congress or the American people to explain our involvement in Libya.
Let’s hope Sen. Webb can drag one from him and the White House.
Obama should consult with Congress on Libya
Jun 10, 2011
It seems America has walked down this road before: Are we or aren't we at war with Libya?
The Obama administration says no. But on Friday, the U.S. House of Representatives rebuked him in a resolution that criticized his failure to follow the dictates of the War Powers Resolution.
In other words, the House thinks we are at war and President Obama has failed to come to Congress with an explanation for why the United States is still supporting hostilities in Libya.
The War Powers Resolution gives a president leeway to answer emergencies and engage our military in actions without the immediate approval of Congress.
But it requires that the president come back to Congress after 60 days for permission to go forward with the hostilities.
That 60-day period expired May 20.
Friday's vote was 268-145, with 45 Democrats supporting it. (Delaware's sole member in the House, Democrat John Carney, voted against it.) The measure called on the president to provide detailed information about the costs and objectives of American involvement in the Libyan conflict.
Friday's vote does not bind the president in any way. However, it reflects growing American criticism of the NATO bombing campaign to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.
In general, we do not believe that a president's ability to defend the country should be hampered by a slow-footed Congress.
But the War Powers Resolution clearly gives the president the flexibility he needs. The failure to follow the resolution is a mistake. It shows a contempt for the legitimate powers of Congress and raises questions about U.S. goals in Libya.
-- The News Journal,