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Conyers: Congress Should Bar U.S. Ground Troops From Libya

2:33 pm in Uncategorized by Robert Naiman

In the wake of President Obama’s decision to go to war in Libya without Congressional authorization or debate, there’s a heightened level of public and media cynicism about the ability of any Congress to constrain any Administration on warmaking in any way whatsoever.

This is dangerous. It’s important for Congress to assert its war powers: important to prevent the U.S. from being sucked into another quagmire, important to build pressure for a negotiated resolution in Libya by shutting down the possibility of further military escalation, important for future efforts to prevent and limit U.S. wars that Congress act affirmatively to impose limits.

Unfortunately, the approach of the Administration has limited Congress’ options. Apparently the Administration does not intend to respect the limits Congress enacted in the War Powers Resolution. Thus, although every measure pursued by Members of Congress helps in some way to limit the Administration by adding political pressure, there is a specific need for measures that can attract majority support: the Administration cannot ignore action by the majority that has the force of law.
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The UN Security Council Has Not Authorized Regime Change in Libya

10:30 am in Uncategorized by Robert Naiman

It’s a great thing that the Obama Administration has resisted calls for unilateral U.S. military action in Libya, and instead is working through the United Nations Security Council, as it is required to do by the United Nations Charter.

Now, the Administration needs to follow through on this commitment to international law by ensuring that foreign military intervention remains within the four corners of what the UN Security Council has approved. If it does not, and instead Western powers take the view that we now have a blank check to do whatever we want, the certain consequence will be that it will be much more difficult to achieve Security Council action in a similar situation in the future, and those who complain that the Security Council is too cautious will have only themselves to blame.

Some of the reporting on the Security Council resolution has been misleading. The Security Council has not authorized military action for any purpose. The Security Council has authorized military action necessary to protect civilians. It has not authorized military action to overthrow the Libyan government. Clearly, some people do want foreign military action to assist in the overthrow of the Libyan government, but such action has not been approved by the Security Council.

The text of the UN Security Council resolution can be found here.

Here is the first action item:

1. Demands the immediate establishment of a cease-fire and a complete end to violence and all attacks against, and abuses of, civilians;

The Libyan government has announced a cease-fire. It is certainly true, as Western leaders have noted, that announcing a cease-fire is not at all the same thing as implementing one. But before Western military forces start bombing Libya, efforts to achieve a cease-fire must be exhausted. To do otherwise would be to make a mockery of the Security Council.
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