There four primary reasons I am concerned about our involvement in the Libyan crisis:
- 1. The President failed to ask for Congressional approval.
- 2. There is no clear American interest.
- 3. The rebels may be worse than Gaddafi.
- 4. We are prolonging the crisis and human suffering.
The President Failed to Ask for Congressional Approval
While the President is authorized to undertake immediate military action under certain situations, the Libyan crisis does not fall into this category.
The Arab League called for a no-fly zone on March 12; the U.N. approved this action on March 17 and military action started on March 19. President Obama had an entire week to ask Congress for authorization, but he failed to do so. The non-emergency deployment of our troops without Congressional approval is a serious violation of our Constitution - an issue that should concern us all.
No Clear American Interest
On Sunday, March 27, Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted on This Week that “it was not a vital national interest to the United States.” We are not the world’s police; we should only be involving ourselves in these crises when there is a clear American interest. Making our friends happy is not sufficient interest for us to start a third war.
When running for office, President Obama even admitted: "The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve staopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation."
The Rebels May Be Worse than Gaddafi
In reality, we do not know who the rebels are. I would have hoped that our nation’s leaders had an idea, but a recent mailing from Senator Webb states, “U.S. policymakers do not have a clear understanding of the opposition movement.”
It is amazingly dangerous to assist an unknown rebel group in overthrowing a regime. America should know better as we have already had experiences with Castro and Osama Bin Laden. What’s worse is that we have strong reason to believe that this group of rebels is just as bad as Osama Bin Laden. A recent report in The Telegraph states, "Abdel-Hakim al-Hasidi, the Libyan rebel leader, has said jihadists who fought against allied troops in Iraq are on the front lines of the battle against Muammar Gaddafi's regime."
We are Prolonging the Crisis
Even the stated reason for us becoming involved is highly questionable. By all accounts, the rebel army was about to lose the war. While Gaddafi was a horrible leader, there is little evidence that his attacks were focused on the population rather than the rebel armies. It is entirely likely that the conflict would have ended in March had the U.N. not become involved. Even Secretary Clinton suggested a death toll of only 10,000.
Instead, we are now directly responsible for deaths ourselves without any clear objectives or time horizon. Secretary Gates even admitted that we do not know how long we will be there.
In addition to these primary concerns, there are additional reasons that should give us pause:
5. The mission is now unclear, because we are exceeding the U.N. mandate.
The U.N. mandate was to establish a no-fly zone; but from the very first day, this action has been designed to prevent any attacks from Gaddafi’s ground forces. Our forces are essentially serving as the rebel air force. I do not believe this is what our men and women in uniform signed up to do.
6. A successful outcome is unlikely without ground forces.
Had we not had any ground forces in Iraq, it would not have become a successful constitutional republic. Our stated policies and actions indicate that we are for a regime change in Libya, yet we are not taking any actions to produce a better regime. While I agree that Gaddafi is an awful dictator, it is foolhardy to believe that we will produce a better result by creating chaos in the country.
7. Our policies with various dictators are inconsistent.
There are many countries in the Middle East that are cracking down on their populations, yet Libya is the only one suffering our wrath. This implies that there are hidden motivations, which only results in further distrust of American policy in those countries.
Finally, I find it ironic that the left is initiating this conflict after their complaints about the Iraq war:
8. This war will cost money as well, and it is truly a war of choice.
9. The Libyan coalition is smaller than the Iraqi Coalition.
10. We have no exit strategy. There is already talk that the rebels will collapse despite our support. What then?
In short, this is an ill-advised war. At a time when we need to be focused on bringing our troops home and conserving our money, we are spending money creating additional unrest in the Middle East. I am concerned that this will be another endeavor that will backfire on us.