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Jim Webb Critical of Libya Operation

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Jim Webb’s key criticisms:

1. We have a military operation “but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or a clear statement of foreign policy that is accompanying this military operation”

2. “We know we don’t like the Qaddafi regime, but we do not have a clear picture of who the opposition movement really is”

3. “Yes, e got a vote from the U.N. Security Council in order to put this into play but we had five key abstentions in that vote – Brazil, Russia, India, China, and Germany – and we have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way.”

4. According to Sen. Webb, we’ve been “sort of on autopilot for almost 10 years now in terms of presidential authority in conducting these type of military operations absent the meaningful participation of the Congress.” According to Webb, “this isn’t the way our system is supposed to work.”

5. Sen. Webb says that “the President and the Secretary of State have a very clear obligation now to come forward to the American people and to the Congress and state clearly what they believe the end point of this should be; they haven’t done that.”

6. Finally, Webb believes “this issue is of much more economic importance to Britain and France…we don’t have to get involved in every one of these [operations] quite frankly.”

  • VADEM

    We do not need a 3rd war. I thought we are so broke? OUR people are living in boxes, OUR people are unemployed, OUR PEOPLE ARE HUNGRY, I mean WTF??? We cannot be the policemen of the world while we have our own crisis going on here at home. Libya poses NO THREAT to us.

    This infuriates me.

  • aznew

    Webb’s comment that “we have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way,” is, for me, the crux of the matter.

    I don’t fully understand what our interests are here. I get it that Quaddafi is a bad guy who is killing his own people, but so are the leaders of Bahrain and Yemen, and we’re certainly not going to bomb those countries. So, whatever moral revulsion we feel at this guy is not the real basis for military action.

    I can;t figure out why Obama is doing this.

  • drobertson

    I’m usually very cautious when it comes to military intervention anywhere, but in this case I think it is better than the other options. The way I see it, we can either not intervene and run the risk of this becoming something like another Bosnia or Rwanda, or intervene and prevent the rebels from being massacred by Gaddafi’s  forces. The prevention of mass killings of the rebels seems worth the cost of intervention.

    That said, I do agree with some of Webb’s criticisms. The thing about congress needing to be involved with this is spot on. And I agree that we need to have a clear mission and endpoint. I acctually think Obama has been pretty good with this so far. It’s been made clear that the goal is to enforce aceasefire and the specific terms of the UN resolution, not regime change or a long occupation. Now we just need to make sure to stick to those parameters.

  • Interesting reasoning:

    There is no perfect formula for military intervention. It must be used sparingly – not in Bahrain or Yemen, even though we condemn the violence against protesters in both countries. Libya is a specific case: Muammar el-Qaddafi is erratic, widely reviled, armed with mustard gas and has a history of supporting terrorism. If he is allowed to crush the opposition, it would chill pro-democracy movements across the Arab world.

  • But when Webb served in the executive branch, he seems to have been pretty comfortable with the authority that he was given to act as he thought we should.  Now that he’s in the legislative branch, he’s not as comfortable with that same lack of authority.  That’s understandable (and plenty of people who have moved from one to the other have felt this way) but that’s how I personally take a lot of what he’s saying.

  • NotJohnSMosby

    Obama takes flak for deferring to Congress on the health care negotiations instead of showing strong leadership and taking the lead.  On Libya, Obama takes flak for showing strong leadership and taking the lead instead of deferring to Congress.

    If Obama starting crapping gold, Republicans would complain that he should be crapping out diamonds instead, and Democrats would complain that the gold is too bold of a substance and he should pass humble silver instead.

  • in March 2007, he clearly said that he was still gung-ho on the Vietnam War.  Here’s what Webb said (around 37 minutes):

    …I don’t believe that there are parallels between Vietnam and Iraq. I may be one of the few people in the Congress who still strongly supports the Vietnam War. I believe that the logic for the Vietnam War was sustainable, and I believe that the American people, in spite of the way we look back at Vietnam, also agreed that the political logic for Vietnam was sustainable, even though the way that we fought the war was not sustainable. And one of the most striking statistics on that is one I used in my last book, where the Harris survey in August of 1972 — this is 8 years after the Gulf of Tonkin — reported that the American people still agreed, by a margin of 74%-11%, that it was important that South Vietnam not fall to the communists. So, we had a basic understanding in this country that however badly the strategic operations in Vietnam went, there was a larger issue in play.