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Sen. Webb Cautions Against U.S. Military Action in Libya

by ARLnow.com | March 22, 2011 at 9:31 am | 904 views | 59 Comments

The lack of a congressional mandate and a clear diplomatic policy has Virginia Sen. Jim Webb (D) questioning U.S. military involvement in Libya.

On MSNBC yesterday, Webb told host Andrea Mitchell that President Obama should have consulted congress before ordering airstrikes on Libyan forces loyal to Col. Muammar Gadhafi.

“We have not had a debate,” he said. “I know that there was some justification put into place because of concern for civilian casualties” at the hands of Gadhafi forces, “but this isn’t the way that our system is supposed to work.”

Webb argued that the U.S. does not really know much about the Libyan rebels that are benefiting from the airstrikes.

“We know we don’t like the Gadhafi regime, but we do not have a clear picture of who the opposition movement really is,” he said.

Although Britain and France have joined the U.S. in conducting the airstrikes, Webb questioned the true international support for the strikes. Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany abstained from a U.N. Security Council vote authorizing the action, he said, adding that the Arab League has been tepid in its endorsement. Meanhwhile, Webb noted that Britain and France has a direct economic interest in Libyan oil, while the U.S. has less to gain.

“I really don’t believe that we have an obligation to get involved in every single [conflict] in that part of the world,” he said. Webb is a member of the Armed Services Committee, a former Secretary of the Navy and a Vietnam veteran.

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  • Steve

    Candidate Obama said that the President doens’t have the power to use force without congressional approval unless the US is directly threatened. now he’s singing a different tune. Kucinich said yesterday that Obama’s use of force in Libya is an impeachable offense.

    • Max

      Steve loves Kucinich.

      • Too Easy

        Gee, Kucinich was the only one with the stones to try and Impeach Bush and now he’s a bad guy for saying the bombing is wrong? Warped,blind or in love. How many people would one day of air strikes feed , how much of the education budget would be restored…….. What a crock , enjoy the prices at the pump and the additional electric surcharges this summer.

        • mehoo

          Um, nobody said Kucinich was a bad guy.

          I think the question at hand is what Steve thinks of Kucinich, including his past calls for impeachments.

      • R.Griffon

        Finally something he and I can agree on. It was bound to happen sooner or later.

    • V Dizzle

      Well, until “independents” wake up and vote for 3rd party candidates, and create a real competitive election system beyond the two major parties, no president will be held accountable. As disappointed as Democrats may be with what he said, and now does, what’s there alternative in the next election? A republican. The opposite was true after GWB’s first term (Republicans were left with little choice). Limited choice means limited accountability, and also limited reason to debate real issues in the election cycle.

      • Overgrown Bush

        +1. Good luck ever getting a viable 3rd party candidate on a national level. You will see Republicans and Democrats unified side-by-side to keep that from happening.

        • V Dizzle

          Yeah, they tend to be very polarizing choices. What we need is a grassroots movement that organizes BOTH sides to vote for any 3rd party candidate. Have Dems and Reps pledge as pairs with the aim of getting 5-10% of the popular vote, without the fear of shifting the balance for either party (think Nader tried this in 2008…didn’t work). You don’t need a perfect candidate, but someone that will create a third opinion and some discussion. The main issue is that the parties tend to demonize or marginalize the 3rd parties and they end up being destroyed by the media. Figures.

          • local

            Guys, 3rd party candidates cannot win – unless they replace one of the first two. It’s only natural, because we have a winner-take-all system. You have to get a majority, and if you are number 3, you have to steal votes from one of the other 2. But by doing so, you strengthen the other one. Only by being close to getting 50% of the vote do you have a shot at winning.

            You can try to replace one of the two parties if you want, but that’s awful hard. Easier to work within one of them to change it. For example, the Tea party people – smartest thing they did is to admit they were Republicans instead of trying to form a new party and getting nowhere. They would have just taken votes from Republicans, electing Democrats.

          • V Dizzle

            Please read above again as this response does not address what was written. WINNING is not the only way to create change and alter the rhetoric. Discount what I said, but do not do so on account of an argument that wasn’t made. An ORGANIZED group could shift votes away from BOTH parties and create minimal fear from the two parties. Getting a third party consistently into the debates would be enough for me and many others.

          • local

            I disagree – winning really is all that gets you anything. Taking a few votes – from both parties? They already have most of the electorate doing that by not even voting. They won’t care, as long as they win, because they know that the only way to have power is to win election. What would your group get out of this? The parties would compromise with you? Maybe, but only if they get their votes back in exchange!

          • V Dizzle

            I don’t expect cooperation from the parties, but rather from independent minded voters that are sick of their choices. X% votes opens up funding channels to the party, which allows for visibility, and if the parties don’t change the rules again, you can get into the debates with a certain level of votes. Being a 3rd party means comparably limited funds which correlates to limited exposure and limited votes. Having public funding and national TV exposure in the debates increases your influence on the 2 “electable” candidates. No more abortion debates and debates over partisian issues that won’t change and define one side or the other. No more vagaries in everything they debate about. It may be an idealistic idea, but changing the Dems or Reps is unrealistic, and I haven’t seen a better option.

          • local

            Changing the Reps or Dems is very realistic. It has happened many times in our history. It’s easier than starting over. But my overall point is that in the long run, you don’t get anything unless you win elections, and you don’t win elections unless you’re either #1 or #2.

          • V Dizzle

            I respectfully disagree, but I’ll take either scenario. I just haven’t seen radical change without a global crisis or massive rights inequality as the backdrop. Both scenarios need to involve large groups of organized citizenry with quite a bit of drive.

          • BoredHouseWife

            If voting changed anything, they’d make it illegal.
            Emma Goldman

            Read more: http://www.brainyquote.com/quotes/quotes/e/emmagoldma107325.html#ixzz1HNXyJXHp

      • R.Griffon

        +1 And now I’m agreeing with OgB. I guess I shouldn’t be surprised that the only thing we all agree on is that the government no longer serves our interests, no matter the ideology. Sad.

        • Overgrown Bush

          RG: I have strong left and right opinions depending upon the topic. I’d likely make a good 3rd-party candidate. But, the media would have a field day with the name Overgrown Bush. It would never work.

          • Winner Genius Roosevelt

            Yeah, too bad about that name, huh? I’m thinking of running myself.

        • local

          Whose interests are “ours” and what are they?

          • Overgrown Bush

            Context would seem to indicate he means the interst of the people, who elected officials are elected to represent.

          • local

            Well, yeah, thanks. The people. Do the people all have the same interests? We’re all the same?

          • Overgrown Bush

            RG’s statement was that the government no longer serves the people regardless of ideology. Meaning, the “people” (represented by any generic elected official…he/she) likely have a majority opinion on any given topic that he/she should be aware of. He/she should vote to represent the “people” of his/her district. RG’s point was that does not seem to happen with government elected representatives. How did you read it, local?

          • local

            I think the idea that representatives frequently vote against the desires of a majority of their constituents is downright silly. I don’t think the facts support that, and I don’t think many representatives who do that stay in office very long.

  • CW

    The expression on Andrea Mitchell’s face in the video preview screenshot is worth of a caption contest…

    • Overgrown Bush

      I think she’s yawning.

      • Lou

        I’m pretty sure that’s her O-face.

        You’re welcome.

  • V Dizzle

    Hey Jim. It’s Friday, and you ain’t got s#$t to do.

  • Overgrown Bush

    I generally can’t stand Jim Webb. He’s just comes across as one of those people I’d never ever trust. But, in this case, I agree with him. This thing could get ugly.

  • JamesE

    And if he hadn’t done anything then people would still bitch saying how dare we turn our back on the international community, he cannot win.

    • Society

      +1

    • OX4

      The point is that Obama failed to seek congressional approval before going to war.

      • JamesE

        no fly zone != war

        • OX4

          Says who? So it’s okay for the president to unilaterally decide to bomb any country’s air defenses at any time?

          • JamesE

            I’m sure the UN vote had nothing to do with it, it was all Obama.

          • OX4

            From Michael Lind on salon.com:

            “However, while the Security Council can authorize member states to undertake a war for purposes other than national or regional self-defense, it cannot order any country to do so. The U.S. agreed to participate in the United Nations only because the U.N. charter makes it clear that each member state has the right to decide, on the basis of its internal constitutional processes, whether to take part in an enforcement action authorized by the Security Council.”

            Let’s also not forget that the countries that did NOT vote for the war were Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany.

        • R.Griffon

          Sorry, but no. Declaring one may nort be, but enforcing one certainly is. What else do you call deploying U.S. forces to a foreign nation uninvited, for the express purpose of releasing live ordinance on real targets (and let’s be honest … killing people)?

          If another nation, say Russia, China, or North Korea, declared a “No-Fly-Zone” over American airspace and shot down any aircraft that flew in it, and bombed all our air defenses, please explain how this would NOT be an act of war.

          I’d love to hear it.

          • JamesE

            An unprovoked attack independently by Russia or China? of course that is war and not even comparable to the current situation.

          • R.Griffon

            I’m sorry, I must’ve missed the news reports when Libya bombed us first. Otherwise, this too is unprovoked.

            We like ro make a lot of noise about “protecting the people,” but this rings hollow to anyone willing to pay attention. We didn’t care about the people of Rwanda. We didn’t care about the people of Darfur. We didn’t care about the people of Croatia, or even Iraq in the decade between the first and second Gulf wars (and still don’t, by and large). Heck, we don’t even care about the people of Bahrain that our allies are gunning down in the streets (together with help from Saudi troops) RIGHT NOW because they dare speak up and ask for a government in which they have a say.

            Remember that tripe about “spreading democracy?” … Not so much. What we DO care care about are our economic interests. If you want to send US forces to help the rebels overthrow Gadaffi in hopes of getting a better government in his place, then just say it. Call a spade a spade. And DAMN well get Congressional approval to do it.

  • Pundit

    I think it’s funny that the Republicans who usually will oppose anything done by Obama, will now be forced to join hands with Dennis Kucinich and Jim Webb if they want to oppose the military action in Libya.

    • Overgrown Bush

      What’s even funnier is Obama’s own Party is turning against him.

      • local

        No, his own party is not turning against him. A few members are criticizing him.

        Only Kucinich could be said to be “turning against him.”

        • Overgrown Bush

          I’d not blame them. In this case, he’s acting Republican.

          • mehoo

            He’s acting Republican? Whoa. I don’t know if that’s an insult, a complement, an excuse, a reason, or all four.

          • JamesE

            Obama actually made a time machine and went back to 1986 to bomb Gaddafi.

          • Overgrown Bush

            It’s a fact.

      • Lou

        Obama needs to get on camera in prime time and explain exactly what the goal is, and how far the US will go into Libya and what we will not do without consulting Congress. Too many unknowns at this point. Maybe tomorrow night, since the Tournament games resume on Thursday.

      • R.Griffon

        His party (and liberal leaning independents like me who voted for him) are turning against him because he’s been such a good Republican. Tax cuts for the rich, amnesty for illegal spying on US citizens (and continuation of same), bailouts and handouts for Wall St. and big business, looking the other way from all manner of corporate malfeasance, record deficits, business as usual at Gitmo, renal of the Patriot Act, continued involvement in costly wars that cannot be won while we simultaneously ignore abuses and atrocities of our allies and trade partners … The list goes on and on.

        W would be proud. Any differences between the parties are largely an illusion.

        • CW

          Yeah, his “renal of the Patriot Act” was a real kidney punch to the American people, you might say…

          • R.Griffon

            Nice. But truth be told I think it hit the American people just a bit lower and closer to center. ;p

          • CW

            It’s ok – I make enough spelling mistakes to count for about ten people. Although that one struck me as a possible iPhone autocorrect gone awry. Hard to get “renal” by accident otherwise, unless you’re a nephrologist.

  • Too Easy

    Fund bombs not books. Yipeee

  • Andrew

    This is yet another reason why I’m sorry Jim Webb isn’t running for re-election.

  • OX4
  • Steve

    While this isn’t war, and anyone trying to say Obama should be impeached over this, or that he’s violating the constitution, is a fool, Obama still is a nobel prize winner. He’s using force, which is resulting in people dying. If Obama had any decency, he would never have accepted the award in the first place, knowing he’s likely have to use force as President. He accepted the award, and I lost what little respect I had for him when he did that.

    • OX4

      I can’t tell if you’re joking or not.

      • steve

        Joking? I nobel peace lauriat is bombing a country and killing people.

        • local

          Now this is real steve. You can tell by the errors.

  • steve

    Kinda funny, NOT, that the codepink liberals are completely silent on Obama using force against Libya? I mean, people are getting killed, and thus they must be against it, oh wait, Bush isn’t involved, so they don’t care..

    http://www.codepink4peace.org/

  • az

    He doesn’t care enough about it to stay in Congress, though.

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