published Saturday, April 9th, 2011

Keep U.S. troops out of Libya

It was alarming when President Barack Obama, acting on the basis of a U.N. resolution, ordered U.S. airstrikes on forces controlled by dictator Moammar Gadhafi in Libya.

Gadhafi’s departure would be welcome, but the president had not gotten constitutionally required authorization from Congress for a war on Libya. And it’s unclear just what Obama hopes to accomplish — Gadhafi’s removal, a stalemate between Gadhafi and the rebels, or something else. In addition, we do not yet really know whether the rebels would be a definite improvement over Gadhafi’s despotism.

But with the United States’ and other nations’ attacks on Libya having failed to stop Gadhafi decisively, there is now unwise talk of expanding U.S. involvement by putting our troops on the ground there.

Testifying at a Senate hearing, U.S. Army Gen. Carter Ham, who until recently directed the U.S. attacks on Libya, was asked whether the United States would make U.S. soldiers part of a NATO-led force in Libya.

“I suspect there might be some consideration of that,” he said.

There shouldn’t be!

Americans are horrified by Gadhafi’s treatment of his own people. But we cannot halt all human rights abuses around the world. And there is neither a vital U.S. interest nor an imminent threat to the United States from Libya that would justify greater U.S. military intervention.

Involving American soldiers in Libya’s civil war would be a horrible idea!

Fortunately, the president has said — so far — that he doesn’t plan to do that. But if he later considers U.S. intervention on the ground in Libya, he should get congressional approval to do so.

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