Jim Moran Strongly Supports Libya Operation

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    I’m much more with Jim Moran on the Libya operation (see Moran’s statement below) than I am with Jim Webb. Fascinating how things work out, isn’t it?

    I congratulate the President, and those I understand advocated for action, including Secretary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power, for understanding how important it is to be on the right side of history and to show the Islamic world, whether on the street or in the palaces, that the U.S. will always stand for freedom, justice and democracy.

    This was not a unilateral action. The U.S. led a diplomatic effort securing support from the UN, the Arab League and European Leaders, both in word and in action. Gaddafi clearly has no qualms with killing his own people to maintain personal control over a nation that has been oppressed for too long. The coalition’s actions are justified on humanitarian grounds alone, but the geo-political benefits from this principled action to defend human rights will likely be felt for generations to come.

    • Jason

      Webb has it right.  Moran’s comments are profoundly disturbing and wrong-headed.  

    • kindler

      As I see it — and you summarized Webb’s statement quite well in the previous post — he’s only saying that the president, as a general rule, should submit major military actions to Congressional debate.  That is totally consistent with the intent of the Founders and, I believe, absolutely correct.

      And while it’s true that we’ve had a gazillion undeclared wars in our history, that doesn’t make them right.  Every one of those actions has inflated the power of the Imperial Presdiency and helped feed our bloated military-industrial complex (which not incidentally is one of the major reason for our massive deficits — not that any of Lockheed Martin’s cash recipients in Washington ever mentions it).

      Not that we had to have delayed the start of Libya action to go before Congress, but the administration should certainly call for a debate and vote in Congress on this now.  If nothing else, think of the value of having gotten our Sens and Reps on record regarding the Iraq War — so we could hold them accountable for such votes. Hell, isn’t that what democracy is all about?

    • I’m not a big Juan Cole fan, mainly because of his strong anti-Israel bias, but he’s well respected on the “left” and very much supportive of the Libya operation. Here are his top 10 reasons why “Libya 2011 is Not Iraq 2003.” A few key ones:

      *”The action in Libya was authorized by the United Nations Security Council”

      *”It was this vast majority of the Libyan people that demanded the UN no-fly zone.”

      *”There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and the threat of more such massacres in Benghazi…”

      *”The Arab League urged the UNSC to take action against the Qaddafi regime, and in many ways precipitated Resolution 1973″

      *”None of the United Nations allies envisages landing troops on the ground, nor does the UNSC authorize it”

      *”A resurgent Qaddafi in Libya with petroleum billions at his disposal would likely attempt to undermine the democratic experiments in Tunisia and Egypt, blighting the lives of millions.”

    • Here is Mark Warner’s position on Libya:

      Sen. Mark Warner, D-Va., also is concerned with how the U.S. participation in Libya will end, said his press secretary, Kevin Hall. However, Hall said he was not aware of any specific concerns Warner had about “participating in the establishment of the no-fly zone under the auspices of a United Nations Security Council resolution.”

      Warner would encourage a broader discussion involving Congress and the American people if there is any move to deepen the U.S. role in Libya, said Hall. He added that Obama sent congressmen information on U.S. involvement Monday in a release.

    • writes:

      Much still needs to be determined by Obama regarding the military actions the United States will take in this multilateral confrontation with Qaddafi-which may turn into his first non-inherited war. Can a no-fly zone work at this point? Is it possible to protect Libyan civilians from Qaddafi’s wrath-the raison d’être of the UN resolution-without placing boots on the ground? The challenge at hand may be more akin to Rwanda than Iraq. But that doesn’t make it easier or potentially less dangerous. And working with a true coalition-one that includes European and Arab partners each highly sensitive to their own interests-will be tough. (While Saudi fighter jets are patrolling the skies of Libya to protect pro-democracy Libyans, how will the Obama administration handle questions about the lack of democracy in Saudi Arabia?)

      Yet the president, with this brief set of remarks, has crafted something of an Obama Doctrine for military intervention: The United States will join in a multilateral fight for democracy and humanitarian aims when it is in the nation’s interest and when the locals are involved and desire US participation. In short, the Anti-Bush Doctrine.

    • weighs in (not that I particularly care what this guy thinks about anything, just thought it was interesting to see him writing for the German Marshall Fund of the United States):

      President Barack Obama faces a big challenge in Libya in defining the right level of engagement for the United States.  The implications are enormous.  The outcome of the rolling revolutions in the region will affect American national interests for decades, especially if they replace regimes like Iran’s.  So while the stakes are evident, the question is how the current debate on America’s budget will impact our willingness and ability to take a leading or defining role overseas as events rapidly unfold.  Yes, the military challenges in Libya are complex and costly, the end-game unclear, and the opposition force largely unknown.  The political risks are also evident; President Obama has been accused at the same time of dithering and of rushing into an ill-defined mission (chiefly by Members of Congress eager to be consulted).  Couple that with a maxed-out national credit card and military resources stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq, and Obama’s caution is understandable.  On the other hand, this particular crisis happens to include elements that one could usually only wish for – a clear humanitarian crisis precipitated by an obvious bad guy, a more-than-willing coalition of European partners ready for action, and (critically) the overt support of regional Arab governments.  If Obama’s stated goal of acting multilaterally plays out here to allow a successful U.S. intervention with a substantially shared cost, it could increase America’s capability to influence the largely organic democratization of the broader Middle East.  This is especially true if the momentum effect continues from yet another successful overthrow of an authoritarian regime in the region.  It will be further enhanced if American taxpayers see a valuable national security return on a reasonable military cost.

    • See here for the letter to President Obama from Rep. Connolly on 3/15/11:

      If the United States works within a multilateral framework to protect the Libyan people with a no-fly zone, I believe it can balance the humanitarian concerns with the democratic foundations of U.S. foreign policy. I respectfully urge you to work with our allies to impose a multilaterally enforced no-fly zone over Libya to prevent the additional slaughter of the Libyan people at the hands of Qadhafi.

    • here:

      I commend the President for his leadership and prudence on how our nation will proceed in regards to Libya and work in concert with European and Arab allies to address the crisis.

      The strong action taken by the United Nations and the Arab League should leave no doubt in Qaddafi’s mind that the horrific brutality against his own people will not be tolerated and cannot continue.

    • here:

      Like many Americans, I have watched the atrocities perpetrated by Moammar Qaddafi in horror, and that’s why I am pleased with the resolution passed by the United Nations. It was an important step for the international community to take action to prevent Qaddafi from perpetrating further atrocities. And I support the President’s decision to work with our allies to enforce a no-fly zone and take other actions to protect Libyan civilians. Today the President presented Qaddafi with a clear choice and outlined the very serious consequences of ignoring the demands of the people of Libya and the international community.

      I believe the broad multilateral approach the President laid out will greatly improve the effectiveness of our efforts. The coalition we are working with includes not just our European allies, but also members of the Arab League. Qaddafi has lost legitimacy and it is only a matter of time before he is out of power. Together with our allies, we should work to ensure that Qaddafi’s transition out of power is swift, and that the people of Libya do not suffer any more than they already have.

    • pushed for this:

      Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry echoed those concerns during an appearance on CBS’ Face the Nation Sunday. “The last thing we want to think about is any kind of military intervention,” Kerry told host Bob Schieffler. “And I don’t consider the no-fly zone stepping over that line.” In remarks The New York Times characterized as “[sounding] like a rebuke to a cabinet member,” Kerry contended air strikes were “actually not the only option for what one could do,” and elaborated on several alternatives, including “cratering the airports.”

    • Elaine in Roanoke

      Let’s not forget that the U.S. Senate on March 1 unanimously passed a resolution calling upon the U.N. to establish a no-fly zone over Libya. The U.N. did, the Arab League concurred, NATO allies joined the U.S. Had we waited for the GOP and a few Democrats to prolong debate and use the issue to attack the president, the toll on citizens of Benghazi would have amounted to a tribal genocide.

    • kindler

      …is: what will happen when opportunities or reasons present themselves to expand the mission?  For example — Gaddhafi continues to survive and attack civilians; American soldiers are shot down, kept as hostages, tortured; a rebel-led government is established but needs military support to survive — etc, etc, etc.

      We need debate and plans to prepare for those contingencies so that we don’t get sucked into another endless, costly war — despite everyone’s good intentions.  

    • who strongly approve of the Libya operation.

      This is also one of the few times in history when outside forces have intervened militarily to save the lives of citizens from their government. More commonly, we wring our hands for years as victims are massacred, and then, when it is too late, earnestly declare: “Never again.”

      In 2005, the United Nations approved a new doctrine called the “responsibility to protect,” nicknamed R2P, declaring that world powers have the right and obligation to intervene when a dictator devours his people. The Libyan intervention is putting teeth into that fledgling concept, and here’s one definition of progress: The world took three-and-a-half years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about three-and-a-half weeks to respond in Libya.

      Granted, intervention will be inconsistent. We’re more likely to intervene where there are also oil or security interests at stake. But just as it’s worthwhile to feed some starving children even if we can’t reach them all, it’s worth preventing some massacres or genocides even if we can’t intervene every time.

      I opposed the 2003 Iraq invasion because my reporting convinced me that most Iraqis hated Saddam Hussein but didn’t want American forces intruding on their soil. This time my reporting persuades me that most Libyans welcome outside intervention.