Arlington, VA

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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