published Saturday, June 4th, 2011

Libyan war no place for U.S. forces

There is appropriately broad condemnation of the oppressive rule of Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi. There is also hope among people of good will that freedom and representative government will take hold in that North African nation.

But it is becoming clearer by the day that U.S.-backed action by the U.N. and NATO to remove Gadhafi may not result in a better government taking his place. U.S. officials have already noted that there are elements of the al-Qaida terrorist network among the Libyan rebels who are trying to topple Gadhafi. And now, human rights investigators say they have learned that some of the rebels are themselves committing war crimes such as torture.

There is nothing pleasant about civil war, and it is even worse when acts of gratuitous barbarity are added to normal casualties. But what should be obvious by this point is that there is no guarantee that the rebels in Libya are more committed to liberty than the Gadhafi regime has been.

For that reason, among others, it is extremely unwise that President Barack Obama included U.S. forces in air strikes against Libyan targets. Worse still, he did so without the constitutionally required congressional authorization, using only the illegitimate “authority” provided by a U.N. resolution.

The House of Representatives has now adopted a resolution stating correctly that the president gave no “compelling rationale” for U.S. involvement in Libya and was wrong not to get congressional approval for it.

We lament losses of innocent life in Libya, and we hope freedom will take root there. But U.S. military forces shouldn’t be pushed into the middle of Libya’s civil war when no clear U.S. interest is at stake — and when it is uncertain that the rebels we are supporting would be an improvement on the Gadhafi regime.

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