Top U.S. Republicans Question Purpose of Libya Military Mission

By James Rowley, Bloomberg

March 24 (Bloomberg) — Top Republicans in Congress questioned the purpose and goals of U.S. military intervention in Libya and complained that lawmakers weren’t consulted before President Barack Obama decided that America would join the international combat mission.

House Speaker John Boehner sought an explanation of what he termed a “contradiction” between Obama’s stated goal of regime change in Libya and the limitation of the United Nations- sanctioned attack to curbing the ability of Muammar Qaddafi’s forces to attack civilians.

Senator Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, yesterday called for congressional hearings on the mission as U.S. and allied warplanes continued to strike Qaddafi’s ground forces.

“The administration has not adequately defined the U.S. strategic interest in Libya or adequately articulated how the conflict ends,” Lugar said in a letter to the panel’s chairman, Democratic Senator John Kerry of Massachusetts.

Boehner, an Ohio Republican, in a separate letter asked Obama how the Libyan leader would be removed from power, since the UN resolution authorizing force against Qaddafi “makes clear that regime change is not part of” the international effort.

The“conflicting messages from the administration” and coalition nations have produced “a lack of clarity over the objectives of this mission,” Boehner wrote.

‘Overarching Policy’

He said in his letter that the U.S. public needs to know “what our national security interests are” in the mission “and how it fits into our overarching policy in the Middle East.” These concerns, he said, “point to a fundamental question: What is your hallmark for success in Libya?”

Lugar said that “it is not clear that the Obama administration has thought through the consequences of this action for regional stability, the fight against terrorism, the impact on oil markets, and other factors.”

He said hearings were “especially vital because the Obama administration did not consult meaningfully with Congress.”

The House Foreign Affairs Committee has asked Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to testify about Libya on March 30.

Boehner told Obama that it was “regrettable that no opportunity was afforded to consult with congressional leaders” before the decision to attack Libya was made.

The Republican complaint of inadequate consultation drew support from the No. 2 House Democrat, Representative Steny Hoyer of Maryland. He said “in some sense the criticism is apt” because “I don’t think there was a lot of consultation.”

‘No Consultation’

Hoyer, the House Democratic whip, said in an interview that “there was certainly no consultation” at a March 18 briefing of congressional leaders by Obama. He said lawmakers were “informed of an action the president was going to take within, frankly, minutes of the ending of the meeting.”

White House aides defended the decision to participate in the attacks on Libya and the consultation process with Congress.

“This intervention is taking place to prevent an international humanitarian catastrophe, the potential massacre of thousands, tens of thousands of people in major population centers like Benghazi,” Ben Rhodes, Obama’s deputy national security adviser for strategic communications, told reporters on Air Force One as the president returned to Washington yesterday from a trip to Latin America.

“We consulted with Congress before we took military action,” Rhodes said. “We continued to brief Congress” after the campaign began.

Too Slow, Too Fast

White House press secretary Jay Carney said that before military operations began, the administration was faulted by members of Congress “who felt like we weren’t moving quickly enough.” Now the president is being criticized “for going too quickly,” he said.

House Democratic Leader Nancy Pelosi of California urged more consultations with lawmakers. “U.S. participation is strengthened by the president’s continued consultation with Congress,” she said in a statement.

Senator Dick Durbin of Illinois, the chamber’s No. 2 Democrat, told reporters that after Obama’s one-hour briefing of congressional leaders, ‘I’ve been kept informed the entire way.’’

Boehner requested from Obama details about the “engagement strategy” with Libyan forces opposing Qaddafi.

“If the strife in Libya becomes a protracted conflict, what are your administration’s objectives for engaging with opposition forces, and what standards must a new regime meet to be recognized” by the U.S., Boehner asked.

Levin Prediction

Senator Carl Levin, a Michigan Democrat and chairman of the Senate Armed Services Committee, predicted that the Democratic- controlled chamber wouldn’t constrain Obama’s direction of the attack on Qaddafi’s forces.

Opponents of Obama’s decision to support the mission won’t come “anywhere near success” getting the votes needed to curtail it, Durbin told reporters on a conference call.

When Congress returns from a recess next week, opponents of the U.S.-led operation may try to cut off funding or force a vote on congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution of 1973, which requires the president to seek approval from Congress for military actions.

Obama said March 22 that the U.S. goal is to transfer command of the operation to an international coalition that will be orchestrated by North Atlantic Treaty Organization allies.

The U.S. and its coalition partners are trying to resolve a disagreement over the role of NATO in the command structure of the operation.

In his letter, Boehner pressed Obama for details on which nations “will be taking the lead” and whether there are “clear lines of authority and responsibility and a chain of command.”

March 24, 2011 | 9 Comments »

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9 Comments / 9 Comments

  1. obama is unfit to be the president of the U.S. He should be impeached–should have been over a year ago–and removed from office before he destroys U.S. and Israel.

  2. The reaction of the Libyan people is very similar to that of the Iraqis when they greeted the American troops with joy and hope. But a few years later one of those people threw a shoe at President Bush during his visit to Iraq. So we will see what will happen to Obama’s reputation in the Arab world once this conflict is over.

  3. Remember those Dems like Durbin who got us into that whore’s (Samantha Power’s) war.

    Seems that the Democrats can circumvent the War Powers Act whenever they please, as Clinton did in a totally ILLEGAL War in Kosovo, where U.S. troops remain to this day in a place where we occupy the land of a former ally, and spineless Republicans say nary a word. Now this.

    Yeah, right now the public supports this – but just wait till Bonzo finds an excuse to put in the Marines, and we get a few body bags coming home. Then will Boehner have the balls to call Impeachment? If not, he needs to be replaced – and fast. Again, as for Durbin, Sherrod Brown, and a few other cowards who never served but have the gall to push those willing into unwanted wars, remember them and vote ’em out next year.

  4. I was born many years ago and fought in wars of another era.
    In all of the latest wars kept on by the US, “nato”, “allies”, and all that jazz, there are completely irrational reasons… for killing hundreds of thousands or millions.
    By the islamics against each other and against “infidels”, and by those that self invited into the mayhem.
    The Libyan “kinetic” whatever is amongst the rest of the wars of sorts, special. An asylum of the criminally insane would have produced no better.
    The net result in my view will be that Aghanistan, Iraq, Iran, Korea and others will flow free into whatver they have planned.
    Egypt will soon return to the islamic fold and we will be left holding papers.

    Woe to us if we don’t prepare.

  5. Obama is wrong on this but the neo cons would’ve attacked Libya sooner which makes them just as wrong as Obama.

    Have you heard? War is no longer war but “kinetic military action”; of course this will apply only when a Democrat is president.

    In the meantime, Obambam advises Israel not to retaliate in the face of the recent J’Salem bombing and the barrage of rockets from Gaza. So the USA is allowed to attack a country that didn’t attack her but Israel must not strike back in the face of multiple incitements in the month of March alone. Israel needs to send Hamas to hell and if Obama is re-elected I’m moving to Israel.

  6. Obama Tests Well at Start of Reelection Run
    No Frontrunner in Slow-Starting GOP Race

    Nearly half (47%) of registered voters say they would like to see Barack Obama reelected, while 37% say they would prefer to see a Republican candidate win the 2012 election, according to the survey by the Pew Research Center for the People & the Press conducted March 8-14 among 1,525 adults. In April 2003, 48% of registered voters said they would like to see Bush reelected in 2004; 34% said they would prefer to see a Democrat win.

    At the time, the Iraq war was viewed as moving to a successful conclusion and Bush’s job approval rating among the public stood at 72%. In a survey released earlier this month, 51% of the public approved of the way Obama is handling his job as president.

  7. The latest Rasmussen survey may interest readers

    Eighty-two percent (82%) of the Political Class support Obama’s Libya
    decision, compared to 39% of Mainstream voters. Sixty-five percent (65%) of
    those in the Political Class feel Congress’ approval was not necessary, but
    56% of Mainstream voters disagree.

    This fits my basic understandings

    FN is Pushing too hard in favor of ousting Gaddafi with a few asking pertinent questions as to what the hell we are doing there and why? Each time such a question is raised nobody can answer them.

  8. The latest Rasmussen survey may interest readers

    Eighty-two percent (82%) of the Political Class support Obama’s Libya
    decision, compared to 39% of Mainstream voters. Sixty-five percent (65%) of
    those in the Political Class feel Congress’ approval was not necessary, but
    56% of Mainstream voters disagree.


    The Political Class Index is based on three questions:

    — Generally speaking, when it comes to important national issues, whose judgment do you trust more – the American people or America’s political leaders?

    — Some people believe that the federal government has become a special interest group that looks out primarily for its own interests. Has the federal government become a special interest group?

    — Do government and big business often work together in ways that hurt consumers and investors?

    To create a scale, each response earns a plus 1 for the populist answer, a minus 1 for the political class answer, and a 0 for not sure.

    Those who score 2 or higher are considered a populist or part of the Mainstream. Those who score -2 or lower are considered to be aligned with the Political Class. Those who score +1 or -1 are considered leaners in one direction or the other.

    Leaners excluded, the “Political Class” of government-trusting voters represent some 24% of the US population. This goes a long way towards explaining voting patterns, etc. Notice that not only Obama, but all leading Republican contenders as well, are completely out of step with the American Mainstream.