The U.S. signed on for another war this past weekend with Libya. The action came after a much hyped U.N. Security Council resolution last week that allowed coalition nations “. . . to take all necessary measures to protect civilians under threat of attack in the country. . .” The main component of the resolution is to enforce “a no-fly zone” so Libya’s leader, Muammar Gaddafi, cannot use air strikes against his own people. This seems to be a noble action backed by the U.N. and the Arab League.
With missile and air strikes underway, there are many unanswered questions. There seems to be no clear definition of the mission by the President. Saturday, Obama said, “I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action . . . The use of force is not our first choice and it’s not one I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” I am sure the President understands the risks, but what exactly are the goals of the mission? The President has said “Gaddafi has to go.” However, Mike Mullen, chairman of the U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff, says the operation is “limited” and “potentially one outcome”is Gaddafi could stay in power.
There are many mind boggling questions. How will we know if we have accomplished our goals if they are unstated? How long will we bomb Libya? A week? A month? A year? What happens if the rebels break the cease fire and mount a counterattack against Gaddafi? Will we, then, bomb them? The governments of Yemen and Bahrain are shooting protesters there; why don’t we push for “no-fly zones” in those countries? Speaker of the House, John Boehner, seems to support the action but also said yesterday, “Before any further military commitments are made, the administration must do a better job of communicating to the American people and to Congress about our mission in Libya and how it will be achieved.” (Click here to read Mr. Boehner’s complete story from Politco.com.)
Other Republicans, such as Lindsey Graham, wholeheartedly support the assault against Gaddafi and want him removed from power. Graham calls the Libyan leader a “criminal” and wants a full investigation into his role in the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing. But other Republicans, such as Congressman Ron Paul, say the “no-fly zone is an act of war,” and it is unconstitutional without Congressional approval. Congressman Paul also thinks U.S. involvement in the no-fly zone is a very bad idea. (Click here for Rep. Paul’s complete Congressional address from March 10.)
Representative Paul isn’t the only one questioning the military attack in Libya. Members of the President’s own party are reportedly fuming over the missile strike taken over the weekend. A Politico.com story on Saturday said, “. . . the objections from a vocal group of anti-war Democrats on Capitol Hill could become a political problem for Obama, especially if “Operation Odyssey Dawn” fails to topple Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, leads to significant American casualties, or provokes a wider conflict in the troubled region of North Africa. . . . They consulted the Arab League. They consulted the United Nations. They did not consult the United States Congress,” one Democrat lawmaker said of the White House. “They’re creating wreckage, and they can’t obviate that by saying there are no boots on the ground. … There aren’t boots on the ground; there are Tomahawks in the air.” (Click here to read the complete Politico.com story.)
And, remember, the approval from the Arab League for the “no-fly zone?” Yesterday, after video of the attacks on Libya covered TV screens in the Arab world, that “approval” seemed to be waning. Sunday, The Washington Post reported, “The Arab League secretary general, Amr Moussa, deplored the broad scope of the U.S.-European bombing campaign in Libya and said Sunday that he would call a league meeting to reconsider Arab approval of the Western military intervention. Moussa said the Arab League’s approval of a no-fly zone on March 12 was based on a desire to prevent Moammar Gaddafi’s air force from attacking civilians and was not designed to endorse the intense bombing and missile attacks. . .” (Click here to read the complete Washington Post story.)
I used to live in Florida, and I saw firsthand how a sinkhole could swallow a house. Will Libya turn into a sinkhole that swallows American foreign policy? That is one question that will surely be answered before this military action is finished.