Many Americans may be only faintly aware that the United States has supported international air attacks on the North African country of Libya in recent months.
And many surely do not know why.
So Sen. Bob Corker, R-Tenn., and Sen. Jim Webb, D-Va., appropriately have called upon the Obama administration to provide an explanation and justification for its decision to have our military take part in the attacks — and have urged Congress to prohibit any use of U.S. ground troops in Libya.
Americans realize that Libya’s ruler, Moammar Gadhafi, is a dictator, and we can understand why some of his people are in rebellion, seeking to depose him. But should American military forces have intervened in Libya’s civil war — without congressional debate and approval, and without a clear threat by Libya to U.S. interests?
Corker and Webb on Wednesday introduced a joint congressional resolution declaring, “The president has failed to provide Congress with a compelling rationale based upon United States national security interests for current United States military activities regarding Libya.”
Corker stated in a news release on the resolution: “It has now been more than 80 days since the United States first launched military action in Libya in what was supposed to be only a very limited operation, but neither the Congress nor the American people have any clearer view of the administration’s stated mission or end game for our military involvement in Libya.
“Having been denied answers, repeatedly, to these fundamental questions or even a comprehensive debate to consider the merits of U.S. involvement in such an engagement, it’s long past time to set a final deadline to get the information every man and woman who puts on a uniform and every taxpayer who funds the operation deserves.”
Obviously, the United States must take immediate retaliatory military action anytime our country is attacked — as it did when Pearl Harbor was attacked in 1941. But even in those situations, there should also be immediate action by Congress.
Webb shares Corker’s concerns.
He asked whether a president “can unilaterally begin, and continue, a military campaign for reasons that he alone defines as meeting the demanding standards worthy of risking American lives and expending billions of dollars of our taxpayers’ money.
“It is important for Congress to step in and clearly define the boundaries of our involvement.”
The unaccountable way that Obama ordered the U.S. military into action in Libya raises “the prospect of a very troubling historical precedent,” he added.
Corker and Webb have made important points about a very serious matter.
But our commander in chief has not yet acted properly in regard to getting clear congressional authorization before launching U.S. military attacks, for whatever reason.
That is much to be regretted.