Last week, the United Nations Security Council authorized the use of force in Libya to protect Libyan civilians from the country’s dictator Muammar Gaddafi. Shortly thereafter, the United States, along with Britain, France, Italy and Canada, launched a military campaign in Libya to do just that.
But the United States’ participation in this military endeavor has raised some questions by Democratic Virginia Sen. Jim Webb. On Monday’s “Andrea Mitchell Reports” on MSNBC, Webb struck a critical tone when talking about the mission.
“If we’re going to discuss what’s going on in Libya now and in the future, we have to start with three basic considerations,” Webb said. “The first is we have a military operation that’s been put to play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or clear statement of foreign policy that has accompanied this military operation. The second and the questions you were just asking are some that I’ve asked on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Forces Committee, we know we don’t like the Gaddafi regime, but we do not have a picture of who the opposition movement really is. I’ve asked this repeated to State Department officials including Sec. [Hillary] Clinton in the past couple of weeks. And the third is yes, we got a vote from the Security Council, the United Nations Security Council in order to put this into play, but we had five key abstentions in that vote – Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany and we have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way. The president is in Rio. The Congress is out of session. So before we even get in to the command structure of this, I think it’s very clear to put the marker down that moving forward we need to get more involved in terms of anything that goes from this point forward.”
And Webb also expressed his concern with the trend of the executive branch bypassing the legislative branch in authorizing the use of military force.
“[A] concern that I have is that we have been sort of on autopilot for almost 10 years from now in terms of presidential authority in conducting these type of military operations absent the meaningful participation of the Congress,” Webb said. “We have not had a debate and I know that there was some justification put into place because of concern for civilian casualties. But this isn’t the way that our system is supposed to work.”