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Were the Critics of U.S. Intervention in Libya Right? Were the Critics of U.S. Intervention in Libya Right?

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National Security

Were the Critics of U.S. Intervention in Libya Right?


Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-MN, speaks during a Tea Party rally at the Robert A. Taft Memorial March 31, 2011 on Capitol Hill in Washington, DC.(MANDEL NGAN/AFP/Getty Images)

In Libya, Muammar el-Qaddafi’s regime is teetering, its demise hastened, no doubt, by the NATO-backed military intervention against his government. When President Obama staked out his position in March—including the commitment to fly U.S. sorties in Libya—members of Congress were quick to stake out their own positions. The president faced opposition from the left and the right: Some argued that a war was the last thing the country needed; others said that the president should have come to Congress and the public sooner and with “better” details about his plans. With Qaddafi on his way out, here is a closer look at those who criticized the Obama administration's decision to use military force in Libya. Does their criticism wither in the light of the reality on the ground in Libya?

  • Rep. Michele Bachmann, R-Minn.: Bachmann, who is running for the Republican nomination for president, criticized the president’s decision to involve the military in Libya. “I would not have gone in” to Libya, she said on the Today show in March.
  • House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio: Boehner initially said, in a news release from March, that the United States had a “moral obligation to stand with those who seek freedom from oppression,” but he added that Obama should communicate “better” with Congress and the public. A few months later, the speaker risked losing Republican votes to Rep. Dennis Kucinich, D-Ohio, who proposed a bill that would end U.S. involvement in Libya, so Boehner shepherded a measure through the House that repudiated the president but stopped short of cutting off funding for troops.
  • Rep. Dave Camp, R-Mich.: Camp, who chairs the powerful Ways and Means Committee and sits on the super committee charged with finding savings in the budget, argued that the president overstepped his constitutional bounds by committing the U.S. to military intervention in Libya. “In support of the Libya operation, the president has placed our troops in harm’s way without the required statutory authorization from Congress and in a manner that is inconsistent with the Constitution and the War Powers Resolution,” Camp said in a statement dated June 3.
  • Rep. Walter Jones, R-N.C.: "For too long, the Constitution has been put on the back shelf for so long when it comes to the issue of war," Jones said in an interview with National Journal on June 15. "I’m sure the drafters of the Constitution would be with us. For too long the Congress has stood in the stands and not been on the field when it comes to the issue of the war."
  • Rep. Kucinich: From the left, he led the attack on Obama’s decision to intervene. Kucinich proposed legislation that would withdraw the U.S. military from the Libya mission, but the bill was scrapped as Boehner scrambled to put forward his own bill.
  • Rep. Ron Paul, R-Texas: Paul, frequently a vocal critic of U.S. military intervention, said the measures that Congress was considering to defund military intervention in Libya should not have been necessary because such expenditures are already prohibited in the Constitution.

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