CongressHouse FloorSenate Floor • U.S. Capitol: 202-224-3121

April 16, 2011

Senate Resolution 148--Policy Objectives in Libya

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Mr. CORNYN (for himself, Ms. COLLINS, Mr. BLUNT, Mr. LEE, Mr. ROBERTS, and Mr. INHOFE) submitted the following resolution; which was referred to the Committee on Foreign Relations:

S. Res. 148

Whereas, on February 15, 2011, protests against longtime Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi began in Benghazi, Libya, following the arrest of human rights advocate Fathi Tarbel;

Whereas, on March 10, 2011, rebels in Libya, armed with outdated anti-aircraft guns and facing overwhelming firepower from Qaddafi forces, were forced to retreat from strongholds in eastern Libya, while doctors in Libya reported that civilian casualties had doubled, mostly as the result of airstrikes ordered by Qaddafi;

Whereas, on March 10, 2011, France became the first country to recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council, organized by the Libyan rebel leadership, as the legitimate government of Libya;

Whereas, on March 12, 2011, Amr Moussa, secretary general of the Arab League, announced, ``The Arab League has officially requested the United Nations Security Council to impose a no-fly zone against any military action against the Libyan people.'';

Whereas, on March 16, 2011, Muammar Qaddafi's forces neared the rebel stronghold of Benghazi, and Saif al-Islam, Qaddafi's son, vowed that ``everything will be over in 48 hours'';

Whereas, on March 16, 2011, following United Nations Security Council negotiations, U.S. Permanent Representative to the United Nations Susan Rice announced United States support for a no-fly zone, stating, ``But the U.S. view is that we need to be prepared to contemplate steps that include, but perhaps go beyond, a no-fly zone.'';

Whereas, on March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council voted to approve a no-fly zone over Libya, passing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which authorized ``all necessary measures'' to protect civilians;

Whereas, on March 19, 2011, President Barack Obama authorized United States military operations against Libya, and Operation Odyssey Dawn commenced;

Whereas, on March 19, 2011, the United States Armed Forces began air and sea strikes against targets along the coast of Libya against Libyan air defenses;

Whereas, on March 21, 2011, President Obama sent a letter notifying Congress that he had ordered strikes on Libya and outlining United States military actions in Libya during the preceding 48 hours;

Whereas, on March 23, 2011, Muammar Qaddafi's forces shelled the town of Misrata, held by Libyan rebels, killing dozens of civilians;

Whereas, on March 24, 2011, coalition forces hit military targets deep inside Libya, but failed to prevent Qaddafi's tanks from re-entering Misrata and besieging its main hospital;

Whereas, on March 24, 2011, North Atlantic Treaty Organisation (NATO) Secretary-General Anders Fogh Rasmussen announced that NATO would take command of enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and was considering taking control of the full United Nations-backed military mission;

Whereas, on March 30, 2011, forces loyal to Muammar Qaddafi pressed further east with an artillery offensive, pushing Libyan rebels back more than 95 miles towards Brega;

Whereas, on March 31, 2011, United States Africa Command, which had led the initial phases of military operations against Libya under Operation Odyssey Dawn, transferred command and control of international air operations over Libya to NATO;

Whereas, as of March 31, 2011, Operation Unified Protector, under sole command of NATO, is now responsible for the arms embargo, no-fly zone, and actions to protect civilians in Libya;

Whereas, as of April 4, 2011, in support of Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector, the United States had flown approximately 1,600 military sorties and, as of April 7, 2011, had launched 228 Tomahawk Land Attack Missiles and spent approximately $632,000,000;

Whereas President Obama has repeatedly indicated that his policy on Libya is that Muammar Qaddafi should no longer serve as the leader of the Government of Libya;

Whereas, on February 26, 2011, 11 days after the protests began, President Obama discussed the situation in Libya with Chancellor of Germany Angela Merkel and, according to a White House statement, said, ``When a leader's only means of staying in power is to use mass violence against his own people, he has lost the legitimacy to rule and needs to do what is right for his country by leaving now.'';

Whereas, on March 3, 2011, President Obama, at a joint press conference with President of Mexico Felipe Calderon, said, ``Muammar Qaddafi has lost the legitimacy to lead and he must leave..... [W]e will continue to send the clear message that it's time for Qaddafi to go.'';

Whereas, on March 18, 2011, President Obama, at a joint press conference with President of Chile Sebastian Pinera, said, ``I have also stated that it is U.S. policy that Qaddafi needs to go. And we got a wide range of tools in addition to our military efforts to support that policy.'';

Whereas, on March 28, 2011, President Obama, in an address to the Nation, began to draw a distinction between United States political and military objectives in Libya, saying, ``There is no question that Libya--and the world--would be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.'';

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Whereas, on March 29, 2011, President Obama, in an interview on NBC Nightly News, continued to draw this distinction, saying, ``Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Qaddafi to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.'';

Whereas, despite President Obama's policy that Muammar Qaddafi should no longer serve as the leader of the Government of Libya, President Obama has not presented Congress with a plan to achieve that policy objective;

Whereas President Obama has not sought from Congress any type of authorization for the use of military force against Libya;

Whereas passage of a non-binding, simple resolution by the Senate is not equivalent to an authorization for the use of military force, passed by both the Senate and the House of Representatives and signed by the President; and

Whereas senior officials in the Obama Administration, including Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton, Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, and Harold Koh, the Department of State's Legal Adviser, have incorrectly pointed to the Senate passage of a non-binding resolution, Senate Resolution 85 (112th Congress), as an expression of congressional consent for the United States military intervention in Libya: Now, therefore, be it

Resolved, That it is the sense of the Senate that--

(1) the President should submit to Congress--

(A) a detailed description of United States policy objectives in Libya, both during and after Muammar Qaddafi's rule;

(B) a detailed plan to achieve those objectives;

(C) a detailed estimate of the full cost of the United States military operations in Libya and any other actions required to implement the plan; and

(D) a detailed description of the limitations the President has placed on the nature, duration, and scope of United States military operations in Libya, as referenced in his March 21, 2011, letter to Congress; and

(2) the President should seek a congressional authorization for the use of military force against Libya.

Mr. CORNYN. Mr. President, moments ago, I sent to the desk a resolution on my behalf, as well as that of Senator Collins, Senator Blunt, Senator Lee, Senator Roberts, and Senator Inhofe, relating to the military operations in Libya. I would like to speak for a few moments about that and about my concerns.

Like all of our colleagues, I respect our troops and honor them and, of course, their sense of duty, which obligates them to do whatever the Commander in Chief has directed them to do. And, of course, I respect the role of our President as Commander in Chief. But I have grown increasingly concerned that the role of Congress in consultation and in communication with the White House on matters of such grave import to our country and our men and women in uniform as intervening in a foreign country--that the powers of Congress have seemingly been ignored or certainly eroded.

We know this is not new. Since the end of World War II, to my recollection, the U.S. Congress has never exercised its authority under article I, section 8 of the Constitution to declare war. Instead, when our nation has been involved in military operations, we have had something other than a war declared by Congress, but most often with communication and consultation and even authorization by the Congress.

I believe it is imperative, particularly in light of the events subsequent to our intervention in Libya, that the President should submit a plan to Congress on Libya. I believe the President should also come to Congress and ask for a congressional authorization for our continued participation, even in a NATO mission of which the United States bears a disproportionate responsibility.

Like many Americans, I admire the Libyans who protested against Muammar Qaddafi beginning on February 15 of this year. And the timeline, I believe, is important. February 15. They showed they wanted the same things as people in Tunisia, Egypt, Bahrain, Syria, Iran, and so many other nations in the Middle East; that is, a chance to live in freedom and to have a voice in determining their own future.

But, like many Americans, I was also concerned that the people of Libya got so little encouragement from our own President. True, President Obama said on March 3 that Qaddafi had lost legitimacy and he ``must step down from power and leave'' immediately. That was on March 3. He indicated this was the policy of the U.S.--that regime change was our goal in Libya--regime change. But he obviously had no plan to accomplish that goal or to further assist the Libyan people in accomplishing it themselves, other than handing the responsibility off to NATO. Now, this is not like handing it off to some third party that is alien to us or not part of us. We--the United States--are a significant part of NATO's operations. For example, in Afghanistan, basically for every one coalition troop from other NATO countries, there are two American troops, and we bear the proportionate financial responsibility as well.

The President watched as Qaddafi forces regained the momentum against those who had taken up arms against the regime. France--France--became the first nation to recognize the Libyan Transitional National Council as the legitimate government of Libya on March 10. And then the Arab League asked that a no-fly zone be imposed over Libya on March 12. Finally, on March 17--this was almost a month after the first protests against Qaddafi in Libya--the United Nations Security Council approved a no-fly zone over Libya, as well as necessary measures to protect civilians in that country.

U.N. Security Council resolutions take a lot of time to negotiate. There is obviously the need for a lot of consultation between the nations making up the U.N. Security Council. That is why I am only left to wonder why it was during this period of time that the President made so little effort to consult with Congress in a substantive way. I admit he appeared to act like he checked the box once or twice. He sent us a letter on March 21--2 days after Operation Odyssey Dawn began--letting us know what we could have learned from reading the newspaper and watching cable television, that he had ordered strikes on Libya. But the level of consultation with Congress about Libya was nothing like what we had in the years leading up to U.S. military involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan, where Congress issued an explicit authorization for use of military force at the request of the President of the United States.

This is not just a constitutional powers matter. I think this is also a matter of communicating with the American people about the reasons for our intervention in Libya and expressing to the American people what the plan is so they can do what they naturally want to do; that is, provide support for our men and women in uniform, particularly when they are in harm's way.

The President waited until 9 days after our planes and missiles were in the air to make his case to the American people in a speech at the National Defense University. During that speech, the President began to draw a very confusing distinction between our political and military objectives in Libya, saying:

There is no question that Libya--and the world--will be better off with Qaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.

Or, as he put it in an interview the next day, he said:

Our primary military goal is to protect civilian populations and to set up the no-fly zone. Our primary strategic goal is for Qaddafi to step down so that the Libyan people have an opportunity to live a decent life.

I bet I am not the only person in the country who is confused by this dichotomy between our military goals and our strategic goals. I think they should be the same.

We know the American people still have many questions about what we are doing in Libya and why. As a matter of fact, I met this morning with some Texas Army National Guardsmen who were visiting the Capitol just today, who asked me a question on this very subject because they are confused. If our men and women in uniform are confused about the President's objective, and the American people do not understand what it is either, it means there has not been a good case made explaining the need for military intervention and the ongoing operations. But do not take my word for it. According to a Pew Research poll on April 3, only 30 percent of Americans believe the United States or our allies have a clear goal in Libya--30 percent. Our troops deserve more clarity.

The President told our troops that their involvement in Libya would last a matter of days, not weeks. These men

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and women, as we all acknowledge, are the finest fighting force in the world. They can accomplish any mission given to them. But they can also tell the difference between days and weeks. Our troops can tell that they are still responsible for about 25 percent of the NATO support missions in Libya. They hear the voices calling for NATO to expand its operations. And then they know that any expansion of NATO's mission, in scope or duration, puts more of them in harm's way. They simply deserve more clarity, as do the American people.

So I think the Congress, on behalf of the American people, consistent with our constitutional responsibilities and our shared power in matters as serious as this, deserve a plan from the President of the United States, so he can present it to us and we can have what we sorely need, which is a genuine debate about our role in the future--the way forward in Libya.

So what should that plan look like? I will make a few suggestions. I believe a credible plan should contain a detailed description of U.S. policy objectives in Libya both during and after Qaddafi's rule. It should include a detailed plan to achieve those objectives. And particularly in these times when we are struggling with enormous debt and deficits, it should include a detailed estimate of the costs of U.S. military operations in Libya and any other actions required to implement the plan.

Congress, of course, has the responsibility for the federal purse strings and would be asked to appropriate the money, so I think it is entirely appropriate that the President present to us a plan that we can debate and vote on in the form of an authorization.

I think a credible plan should also include a detailed description of the limitations the President has placed on the nature, duration, and scope of U.S. military operations in Libya--the limitations he referred to in his letter of March 21 to Congress.

A plan from the President would, of course, be a catalyst for a long-overdue debate right here in the Halls of what we call occasionally the world's greatest deliberative body. But we cannot deliberate without debate and without an honest appraisal of where we are and where we are going. In fact, it is clear, just by referring back to the debate we had on Iraq and Afghanistan, that the amount of time devoted in this body to Libya is dwarfed by the fulsome debates we had over a period of years relative to our military operations in Iraq and Afghanistan.

Now, what questions should a Senate debate over Libya hope to address? Well, I can think of a few.

Was the Secretary of Defense correct when he said Libya is not a vital interest for the United States?

Is the situation on the ground in Libya--as reported by the news--basically now a stalemate? Remember that the initial U.S. commander of coalition operations in Libya, General Carter Ham, testified before the Armed Services Committee just last week. He agreed with that assessment that it was essentially now a stalemate.

I think this is, to me, the simplest, the most direct question: If the President's goal was to stop Qaddafi from killing Libyans, civilians rebelling against him and protesting against his tyrannical rule, how in the world do we stop the killing without stopping the killer?

That would be Muammar Qaddafi. How can we stop the killing of civilians until we achieve the objective of removing him by any means necessary?

I think it is also appropriate to inquire as to whether the Pottery Barn rule applies in Libya. Colin Powell, former Secretary of State and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, once observed that, Once you break it, you own it, the so-called Pottery Barn rule.

Has the administration's focus on Libya distracted it from our ongoing efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, which are both vital interests? We have committed huge amounts of blood and treasure to success in both of those countries, and I think Congress needs to know, and we need to have a fulsome debate, about whether this mission in Libya has distracted from those other two vital missions.

We also need to talk about whether NATO's performance in Libya has jeopardized its effectiveness and reputation. Is there a risk that the alliance is already splitting because of caveats or restrictions that some of the coalition members are placing on their participation in the ongoing intervention in Libya?

Finally, I think we need to know, because certainly everything that happens becomes precedent for some future action, whether there is something that one might call an ``Obama doctrine.'' Is it that the United States will use military force when requested by our allies such as France or, perhaps, international bodies such as the Arab League or the United Nations, but not otherwise? Is it something like the United States will protect civilians when they capture the world's media attention, but ignore their suffering otherwise? Is it something that explains why, for example, we are engaged in Libya but not engaged in Syria?

Remember that Syria is a nation that is slaughtering its own civilians--a humanitarian crisis, I would submit. It is a known state sponsor of terrorism, so designated by the U.S. Department of State, and it is a well-known and notorious conduit for arms from Iran to the Lebanese Hezbollah. Whatever the Obama doctrine is, why doesn't it apply to Syria? We need to ask those questions and I think we need and deserve--and the American people even more so deserve--answers.

I believe our debate in the Senate should result in a vote on a congressional authorization for the President's plan, whatever that is, in Libya, but we ought to have a conversation, we ought to communicate, we ought to have a consultation, not allow the President to treat Congress like a potted plant when it comes to intervening in a foreign nation in a military fashion. I believe the President should ask Congress for an authorization, and I believe we should vote on one.

I certainly don't believe that what we have done so far, which is pass a simple resolution without much notice or debate, is sufficient. Frankly, I don't understand why some of my colleagues are so willing to acquiesce to the President, thereby conceding to the executive branch all authority in dealing with a matter of this gravity and seriousness.

I believe a robust debate about Libya would be good for the Senate, it would be good for the House of Representatives, I think it would be good for the American people, and I think it would be good for the President. If the President takes action knowing that the American people and the Congress are behind his plan, that is good for America, and that is what we need.

I am afraid, though, that the President is taking the support of the American people for granted. The American people instinctively want to support our Commander in Chief, but history shows our military operations are most successful when the people of the United States are behind them. When the American people are not--when they become disengaged or disillusioned--success becomes much more difficult, not just in Libya but for future missions as well. I hope the President will act in such a way that shows respect for Congress as a coequal branch of government, and for the American people, who expect that their representatives will debate questions of this gravity in the open and ask the questions they themselves would ask before their sons and daughters are put in danger. I hope the American people will have the benefit of a vigorous debate on Libya in the Senate.

It is with that objective in mind that my colleagues and I have submitted a resolution. I know there are other resolutions. I believe the Senator from Connecticut and the Senator from Massachusetts and the Senator from Arizona have another one. I am advised that Senator Ensign from Nevada and Senator Hutchison from Texas have another one. I think we need to consider all of those views and have a debate and vote on these issues.

(Senate - April 14, 2011)

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