Lugar Questions Obama War Aims, Cost and Authorization

News release from US Senator Richard Lugar:

Lugar Questions Obama War Aims, Cost and Authorization

(March 29, 2011) – Senator Richard G. Lugar, the Ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, today issued the following statement regarding President Obama’s speech on the war in Libya:

Last night, the President underscored that the United States intervened militarily in Libya because of humanitarian concern for the Libyan people who were in danger of being overwhelmed by Qadhafi’s military campaign against Libyan rebels. That immediate threat has been neutralized. But the President still has not clearly stated what our goals are or what would constitute success. He has not stated whether the United States would accept a stalemate in the civil war, nor has he put forward a plan for ending Qadhafi’s rule. As such, U.S. participation in the coalition may continue indefinitely, without a defined endgame.

The President did not provide estimates for the cost of our military intervention and humanitarian aid to the Libyan people. Nor did he discuss whether the United States would incur the enormous potential costs of reconstruction and rehabilitation of Libya in the aftermath of war. American military operations in Libya may already have expended close to a billion dollars. The President did not set these costs in the context of a national debt exceeding $14 trillion or address the potential effects of the operation on a military that has been stretched by two other wars in the Middle East.

The President expressed hopefulness that our intervention in Libya would have a positive effect on democratic movements and regime behavior elsewhere in the Middle East. But his analysis failed to grasp the complexity of a situation in which close allies who are helpers in the fight against terrorism are engaged in repressive activity. Humanitarian emergencies more intense than the one in Libya could arise in Middle East countries where intervention would be far more difficult. It is not clear how U.S. intervention in Libya ultimately will be viewed by the people of various Middle East nations. It is also unclear whether pro-Western governments will result from popular upheaval in Libya and beyond.

Finally, the President has acknowledged no role for Congress in authorizing American participation in the intervention in Libya, despite the fact that by his own description, this was clearly an elective war. Neither the U.N. Security Council Resolution, nor the briefings provided by the Administration to members of Congress are a substitute for a declaration of war or other deliberate Congressional authorization.

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