Center for World Conflict and Peace

Center for World Conflict and Peace

Friday, June 24, 2011

The House Voted 295-123 to Reject a Resolution to "Authorize" the Mission in Libya

First, I completely disagree with this vote. I do understand that there's a sense of war-weariness going on, that they have to look back at the public opinion back home, etc. But again, this is a bad decision. Why? It can undermine America's credibility abroad, fostering the perception that once the public opinion sours back home, the U.S. will seek to retreat, with its tails between its legs.

Plus, the vote can create a condition of uncertainty: the rebels are likely no longer sure whether the U.S. will be behind their back, and Qaddafi might believe that the longer he can stay afloat, the higher the possibility that his regime will survive.

Yet, what really surprised me is on how bipartisan this vote is. 70 out of 185 Democrats rejected the resolution, meaning that the dissenting Republicans are supported by almost half of the Democrats. I don't doubt the Republicans were politically motivated in pushing for this vote, but I think the blame in the end falls on Obama himself.

Why? I mentioned in an earlier post that Obama's argument that "there's no hostilities" would bite the White House in the end because he insulted the intelligence of both the Congress and the public with his legal mumbo jumbo. Even the Harvard scholar Stephen M. Walt was disenchanted with the administration's lame explanations, even though he is not a fan of the republican-dominated Congress.

Of course, telling the Congress that the Administration would ignore the resolution doesn't do much to endear the House to the Libya mission. In a last ditch attempt to bring the Democrats on the table, Hillary gave the argument that "the Republicans wouldn't challenge a president of their own party," but it was too late. As Representative Lynn Woolsey, a Democrat from California, noted. “She did what the White House should have been doing all along, which is come to us, talk about the situation, tell us what their perspective is, and have a conversation.”

Still, the Senate may not support this resolution so this might be all bells, whistles, and no substance.

Obama could have avoided this mess had he built a support-base first in the congress and taken his time to explain to the people the necessity of America's intervention on Libya. In other words, Obama should stop his 2012 campaign mode and start acting like a real president.

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