The GOP Split on Libya – A Good Sign

Andrew McCarthy posted an article this morning that details the reasons why going into Libya may be a bad thing, but not getting congressional approval is worse.  I would be inclined to believe him.

Many conservatives (particularly neoconservatives) are strong supporters of intervention, out of a deep conviction that the global advance of freedom promotes American security. I happen to disagree, at least insofar as the “freedom agenda” relies on the U.S. military as its agent. Regardless of where one comes out on the policy, though, we all ought to agree on at least one thing: The Constitution must control the implementation of whatever policy wins the day. Yet it has become necessary to ask whether even this principle, so fundamental to a free, self-determining people, is still unanimously honored.

I’ve felt that going to war and utilizing the military in combat against another nation should involve congressional approval.  This is the constitutional way of doing things, and it should be followed.  Granted, we’ve had military engagements in numerous nations, dating back to the Korean War, without a formal declaration of war or even an approval by Congress to fund military actions.

The reason why this is split in the GOP over Libya is a good thing is because it shows a stronger “constitutionalist” line of thinking among conservatives.  I’m in favor of a strong military that will protect America from any attacking force.  I’m just in favor of also using that military for it’s actual purpose.

McCarthy continues, after noting the Security Council’s vote on Libya and the fact that militarily, we’ll end up doing a lot of the “heavy lifting”…

There is a catch: The Security Council is powerless to “authorize” the U.S. military to do a damned thing. The validity of American combat operations is a matter of American law, and that means Congress must authorize them.

Our Constitution vests Congress with the power to declare war. That authority cannot be delegated to an international tribunal that lacks political accountability to the American people. The decision to go to war is the most significant one a body politic can make. Thus the Framers designed our system to make certain that the responsible officials are answerable to the people whose lives are at stake and who are expected to foot the bills.

Contrary to the insistence of many on the right and the left, this has never meant that military operations may not be launched in the absence of a declaration of war. Indeed, although the United States has engaged in many wars and lesser conflicts, war has been formally declared only five times. Still, the circumstances for departing from this formality are narrowly defined

How true.

Even using recent events as a barometer, the reason for going into Libya fails to match up to recent military engagements.  We had a reason to go into Afghanistan (al Qaeda attacked us, they were supported by the sitting Taliban government, so our attack was in retaliation and defense of an attack on us).  At least with Iraq, there was some semblance of reasoning as to why we were there (possible ties with al Qaeda, an enemy of the U.S.).

Even using the traditional neoconservative and “global community” progressive viewpoints, the Libya intervention doesn’t hold up.  In 2003, Iraq was ignoring/blatantly thumbing it’s nose at numerous U.N. resolutions, yet people (including then-Illinois State Senator Obama) said we had no business there.  After Gaddafi violates one single resolution, Obama is ready to help the Brits and the French take action against Libya.  By the way, do you see the President’s hypocrisy here?

Nonetheless, we have no reasons why we should send our military into Libya.  There is no threat to America or her allies posed by Libya’s internal strife at this point (you could at least have made a case for Iraq back in 2003, based on the information we knew).  So while many people will disagree with me (on the left and the right), I stand firm on my position here.  While I wish nothing but freedom and the institution of a sound republic in Libya, I personally do not agree with our military intervention in Libya, even if it is just the enforcement of a “no-fly zone”.


19 thoughts on “The GOP Split on Libya – A Good Sign

    1. Are you referring to Lockerbie, Berlin, and/or Flight 772? You’re talking events that are 20-30 years old. Hardly justification in my opinion.

  1. Also, I don’t want to be mistaken here…I think Muammar Gaddafi is a total S.O.B. and the world would be a little bit better if he were 6 feet beneath the ground in a pine box. However, there is no justification for us to make this move at this time.

    20-30 years ago, you had some kind of justification for American attacks. However, I don’t see where we have a justification here.

  2. I am talking about those events. It does not matter how old they are. Qadaffy was the one in power then, as now.

    Now that we’re in this, we need to finish off Qadaffy. A no-fly zone that does not lead to Qadaffy’s ouster is even worst than having done nothing at all.

    1. We will agree to disagree on this one, because I think that we did attack Libya before (quite swiftly and successfully), and even though we didn’t kill Gaddafi, between the Gulf of Sidra incidents and the 1986 bombing, we rendered them irrelevant.

      I will also note that all of those incidents were instigated by Libyan attacks on Americans, either militarily or through terrorism.

    1. Our Libyan campaigns have had some strange names…before “Odyssey Dawn”, we had “El Dorado Canyon”.


      Plus, “Odyssey” would imply a long, drawn-out venture. “Dawn” being the beginning of the day. So, is the name of this operation implying this will be the beginning of a long, drawn-out operation?

  3. So what happens should there be anti-regime uprisings in places like Syria and/or Iran? With our actions in Libya isn’t it somewhat reasonable to expect that people who are against those regimes will take up arms against Assad Jr and the Mullahs as they assume that they will receive outside help?

    When the demonstrators are slaughtered in those countries will BHO and the Europeans be in such rush to protect them?

    Or will it be similar to the post Gulf War I massacre of the Kurds and Shiia’s?

  4. If the regimes ruling Libya, Syria, and Iran are overthrown, it’s a trifecta! These three regimes are the cause of many of the troubles for the US and the world. What help we can give opponents of the regimes, I don’t know. In Libya, there is an organized, credible opposition. That’s not the case with Syria or Iran.

  5. the whole “it’s illegal without a declaration of war” thing is odd, unless you want to contend that every use of U.S. military force in the last 70 years was unlawful. I believe Nazi Germany is the last country we actually declared war on.

    1. That was and was not my point. I would definitely prefer at least congressional approval of the use of military force, if not an outright declaration of war. My bigger point was also that there is absolutely no justification for us to even be involved.

      Every use of U.S. military force since WWII was brought about by an attack on America, American citizens/troops, or our allies. The only real exception to that is Iraq, which I noted I had mixed feelings about…but even then, you could make a better case for Iraq than you could for the current operations in Libya.

    2. The last paragraph of McCarthy’s that I quoted refers to whether or not military operations without a formal declaration of war are lawful or not.

      “Contrary to the insistence of many on the right and the left, this has never meant that military operations may not be launched in the absence of a declaration of war. Indeed, although the United States has engaged in many wars and lesser conflicts, war has been formally declared only five times. Still, the circumstances for departing from this formality are narrowly defined”

      Libya does not fall within any of those circumstances.

  6. Phil: Disagree with you about better case for Iraq than Libya, I’m not totally sold on what we’re doing in Libya myself, but opposition to the tyrant asked us to come in. Not so much the case in Iraq. Our European allies were also urging us to do Libya, while they urged us (with the exception of the Brits) not to do Iraq.
    Re: your contention about every U.S. use of military force since WWII.
    1. Vietnam – not an ally really. Not a vital U.S. interest.
    2. Panama-?
    3. Grenada-asked in by other Caribean states, similar to this situation in a way.
    4, Bosnia– again similar to this situation, I think.

    1. At least in Iraq, we (with some dispute, yes) were under the impression that they were aiding al-Qaeda, who we were fighting in Afghanistan and were allied with the Taliban government there. So there was at least a plausible reason to go in (if not bedrock-solid), and I have my doubts on that one, as well.

      Vietnam – South Vietnam could’ve been considered an ally.
      Panama – ? (I’ll go with you on that).
      Grenada – The rebels had taken American medical students hostage, that would be a plausible reason for us to get involved.
      Bosnia – Now that would be similar to this situation…and again, not a case where we really needed to get involved.

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