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Libya: Military Action Lacks Clear Purpose And Path To Conclusion


Location: Washington, DC

Libya has been a problem since Gaddafi seized power more than 40 years ago. He's a murderer who thinks nothing of liquidating his enemies. And, he does not flinch at killing innocent civilians, as when his government agents planted a bomb aboard an airliner flying from London to New York in 1988 that killed 270 people. But, we've known about Gaddafi for a long time and have never seen fit to seek regime change through military means.

That appears to have changed in March when President Obama, after little or no consultation with Congress, authorized military action in concert with an international coalition. Sunday, June 19th will mark 90 days since the President notified Congress that he had committed U.S. troops to military action, and we still have no answers as to what our objectives actually are and for how long we'll be there.

President Obama's insistence on involving the United States in this conflict has had an interesting effect on Capitol Hill. It has created an opportunity for agreement among people who otherwise are inclined to be political opponents. We are all waiting for the President to provide the American people with an explanation.

Aside from kicking Gaddafi out of power, our mission in Libya is a mystery. To be sure, Gaddafi is a tyrant. But, I fail to see what separates him from other tyrants around the globe. Moreover, Defense Secretary Gates has stated that vital national interests were not at stake in Libya. So, why are we risking lives and spending around $10 million a day there?

In early June, the House considered two resolutions dealing with U.S. military operations in Libya. One directed the President to end our participation in the military action within 15 days. The other banned the deployment of U.S. ground forces in the conflict and required the President to provide answers about our involvement within 14 days. I supported both of these resolutions. But, only the latter passed the House.

Despite repeated calls from the White House and the State Department for Gaddafi to resign, he is still where he was 40 years ago and where he may be for some time into the future. In the meantime, we're still waiting for an adequate answer to what we're trying to accomplish in Libya and why the President has chosen to do it now.

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