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House Leaders Kill Libya Withdrawal Resolution

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This afternoon, the House was getting ready to vote on a resolution demanding that President Obama pull US troops out of Libya when the Republican House leadership had the bill pulled from the docket. The apparent reason for this action was that it looked like the bill was getting too much support and might actually pass, while GOP leaders just wanted it to come close to passing to put pressure on the administration.

The reasoning behind this action seems to be pretty convoluted and perhaps somewhat despicable. They apparently want President Obama to take the blame for the war in Libya while not actually going so far as to actually stand clearly against his actions and perhaps even end the war. They had assumed that the resolution would only be backed by Democrats, but to their surprise many Republicans who don’t like the idea of an unconstitutional war, were going to vote for the resolution.

This is a perfect example of the effects of the change in the Republican majority coming out of last election. There is now a core group of Republicans who aren’t willing to play games and who are serious about issues like making war without even following the guidelines of the War Powers Act, much less the Constitution.

It probably didn’t help that this bill was authored by arch-leftist Dennis Kucinich (D-OH), which raises the question of what might happen if a similar bill demanding an immediate withdrawal from Libya were to come to the floor sponsored by one of the prominent Republicans who also oppose the war in Libya like Walter Jones (R-NC) or Ron Paul (R-TX). Would the House leadership take the widespread concern about the war more seriously then?

While some Republicans may like the idea of US intervention in Libya there are four facts which they really cannot ignore:

• The war is unconstitutional. Despite arguments that it is a deployment of US forces as part of a NATO operation, it is a long-term troop deployment which has never been approved by Congress and that is clearly a violation of Article I, Section 8 which reserves the power to declare war specifically to Congress.

• The Libya operation is a clear violation of the War Powers Act, which sets specific limitations on Presidential war authority, expanding on the Constitutional guidelines. One of those requirements is that the President receive approval from Congress for any action lasting more than 60 days, a deadline which passed last week and which the President has ignored.

• We can’t afford this war. As a nation we’re on the brink of bankruptcy and looking at taking on absolutely unsustainable additional debt. We already have troops deployed in far too many places overseas, including in Iraq and Afghanistan and our military budget has ballooned utterly out of control. Continuing operations in Libya is just not something we can afford.

• We have no idea what we’re doing. It is not at all clear that we are fighting a war which can be won, which does anything to advance our national interests, or even that we’re supporting people who aren’t likely to be as much of a thorn in our side as Gaddafi has been for decades. Wars without a clear purpose and a predictable outcome are terrible policy.

President Obama ought to be held fully responsible for this war in Libya. Republicans in Congress who don’t want to pursue the issue are betraying their oath to the Constitution and also making a serious political mistake. The GOP has no stake at all in this war. It doesn’t make any sense, weakens our national defense and our finances, and should be opposed by all Republicans including party leaders in Congress.

If the leadership will not let the Kucinich resolution come up for a vote then I hope very much that one of the dynamic new leaders elected last year will take the initiative to put forward a similar bill immediately. Perhaps such a bill would be taken more seriously if sponsored by Justin Amash (R-MI) or Allen West (R-FL) or Chris Gibson (R-NY). This is a chance for a freshman Representative to make a mark for himself on an issue where the party leadership has clearly gone off the tracks.

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About Dave Nalle

Dave Nalle is Executive Director of the Texas Liberty Foundation, Chairman of the Center for Foreign and Defense Policy, South Central Regional Director for the Republican Liberty Caucus and an advisory board member at the Coalition to Reduce Spending. He was Texas State Director for the Gary Johnson Presidential campaign, an adviser to the Ted Cruz senatorial campaign, Communications Director for the Travis County Republican Party and National Chairman of the Republican Liberty Caucus. He has also consulted on many political campaigns, specializing in messaging. Before focusing on political activism, he owned or was a partner in several businesses in the publishing industry and taught college-level history for 20 years.
  • zingzing

    “the USA consumes about 20% of the worlds oil (and decreasing each year) and (IIRC) China consumes about 30% (and increasing).”

    the numbers i looked at suggested that the us more than doubled china’s consumption (23% in the us to 10% in china). however, those numbers last updated in 2009, and i’ll assume that china has been catching up. i’m not sure where you’re getting your numbers, but i can’t find anything that suggests what you say is remotely true, although there is that chance. if you have a link to such info, please share.

    either way, i’m not sure what subsidies china gives to the oil companies, but you know the us bows down to their wishes, and they’re going to pay attention to 23% of their market, because they’re no fools.

    if you could pin down the reasons for unrest in the middle east to one word, that word would probably have to be “religion.” but lurking in the back, lurking in a very convenient anagram, is “oil reign.” i swear that worked out far too easy… kinda scary.

  • Roger B

    zing: the USA consumes about 20% of the worlds oil (and decreasing each year) and (IIRC) China consumes about 30% (and increasing). We are in a pretty good position, especially since we could accommodate an all-out war situation pretty easily, starting with conservation and rationing, as in WW2. India is coming up fast in oil dependency, IIRC.

    The “Laws of Supply and Demand” do apply, especially since the oil markets conform highly to ideal Free Market conditions with a large number of suppliers, none of whom is big enough to monopolize a market, and low entry cost. It was designed that way 70 years ago by American oil engineers to assure steady and reasonably priced fuel to US markets (it also works for other markets, too). The price fluctuations we often see are mostly due to the traditional systemic instabilities of capital markets

  • zingzing

    well, seeing as how our society is on its hands and knees sucking at the teat that is oil, and seeing as how the us sucks far more than any other country on the planet, i think its all pretty connected. (and even if the supply is tightly controlled, do the laws of supply and demand not apply to oil?)

    and although dave wanted to say i said ” we invaded for oil,” that isn’t exactly what i said. i posited it as an explanation so that all these invasions made “sense,” but i’ll not say it was the only reason. there’s plenty of other possible factors at play, although a vast majority of those factors are stupid (stop terrorism), evil (keep the m.e. unstable for our own reasons), dangerous (feed the privatized war industry), or simply pathetic (daddy issues).

  • Leroy

    16-Zing: we invade to secure oil company interests, not national interests. And those oil companies are non-national internationally-owned companies. We don’t invade to reduce prices nor to sequester oil for our own use for the simple reason that there is no way for us to sequester foreign oil (or even our own!) for our own exclusive use.

    First of all, the USA owns no oil drilling equipment and has no capability of drilling for oil anywhere. Even in the USA! Any oil that is drilled goes into the virtual global international pool of oil. Oil is fungible.

    The oil companies are publically traded corporations. Their stocks are bought and sold on open markets. International capital is liquid. Oil companies are about 60% foreign owned, about 40% owned by American interests.

    BP or any other oil company wants to get into Libya or Iraq to get access to more oil, not for any naive national interests, but simply to drill more oil and make more profits. China supplies a huge demand pull.

    If there’s any connection between our middle eastern wars and our oil consumption it is the profits of oil companies. No administration is going to war on behalf of oil consuming weenies like us.

  • zingzing

    dave, do you seriously believe there is no connection between the wars in the middle east and western addiction to their oil? seriously?

    if not, why do you think we’re over there?

  • First, Glenn you are completely right. It is completely hypocritical to want to impeach Obama over an issue that actually has two sides, while the same people were mum when Bush lied to the American people and as a result, over 3,000 Americans are dead. What is the death toll of American casualties in Libya? Pretty sure it’s zero since we don’t have American troops on the ground…

    As far as wars in the Middle East go, Obama has been pretty smart so far. First, he did not invade and second, he would not allow the US to take the lead in the attacks. This was especially smart, since as has been pointed out, America has no real interest in Libya. Europe has much more to lose from a violent Libya than America.

    One huge, gaping, abyss worthy difference between Libya and the other wars that Bush got us into, is that the justification for the Libya war (whether you believe it or not) was humanitarian in nature. If it was not for the NATO raids, Benghazi and Misrata would be mere memories of cities and most likely a lot of the protesters turned fighters would be sitting in some God-awful Libyan prison praying for death.

    While I think it is reprehensible that America would get involved for humanitarian reasons in Libya and not in Syria or Yemen, if you look at the bigger Middle East picture it makes sense. America has nothing to lose by supporting the Libya attacks, but we attack Syria we have Iran/Lebanon to worry about, and in Yemen, Saleh is someone we have supported for a long time.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Major –

    We’re not even the ones taking on the lead in Libya, are we?

    And I have to ask you – did you call for the impeachment of George W. Bush for our illegal invasion of Iraq on false pretenses…that was discussed in the White House almost eight months before 9/11?

    This is what ticks me off – Obama does something that may or may not be wrong, but risks NO ground troops, takes only a supporting role in the attacks, and in any case is in concert with all of NATO…and y’all call for his head on a pike.

    But do y’all call for Bush’s head on a pike after his illegal invasion of Iraq even after it was discovered that he had planned this long before 9/11…and that he was even aware that it was unlikely that Iraq did not have WMD’s? Google the Downing Street Memo.

    I ask because the MAGNITUDE of Bush’s ‘error’ – whether intentional or not – is many, many times greater than Obama’s…yet did I hear calls from my fellow retired military for prosecution of Bush?


    This is called hypocrisy, and I will have none of it.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –

    I pointed all that out to show why we were in all those places…and who’s really to blame.

    That, and I heard NO indication that US ground troops (special forces or otherwise) is there. I HAVE read indications that they are SAS…and you know, all the other NATO nations DO have special forces. Your assumption that they’re US…is only an assumption and nothing more.

  • Obama should be impeached for violating the War Power Act

    Here is the truth about the NATO War. It is a war to stop African Development and an African Central Bank and African Monetary Fund

    Then join our “Day of Rage” in D.C.

  • Secret memos expose link between oil firms and invasion of Iraq

    An example of one of those secret memos, obtained recently under the Freedom of Information Act:

    Foreign Office memorandum, 13 November 2002, following meeting with BP: “Iraq is the big oil prospect. BP are desperate to get in there and anxious that political deals should not deny them the opportunity to compete. The long-term potential is enormous…”

    The invasion of Iraq may have had nothing to do with lowering gas prices, but to deny that had anything to do at ALL with oil is…something Bush, Blair and BP actually DID for quite a long time, actually. None of the rest of us have any excuse for believing them any more, though.

    And the US is putting pressure on the Iraqi government to postpone the military withdrawal date because…?

    Iraq’s Arab Spring: A renewed sense of nationalism is uniting protesters over delays to US troop withdrawal

    We’re “involved” with the uprising in Libya for humanitarian reasons? THAT sounds familiar… Fool me once, shame on you; fool me twice, shame on me.

  • Dave nalle

    What is your point here, Glenn? I never said we invaded anywhere for oil. I said we didn’t in response to zing’s claim that we did. And it’s a common claim made by people in the political left.

    But you are, in fact, wrong about the US having forces on the ground in Libya. It may not be a full scale invasion yet, but it’s well known that special forces and other covert units are there.

  • Cannonshop

    the House Leaders just revealed what side they’re really on-and how NOT unlike the people they replaced they really are. time to hold some feet to the fire on this one.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Dave –


    1 – We have NOT “invaded” Libya. America has zero ground troops there, and it’s sorta hard to ‘invade’ if you don’t use ground troops. We attacked Libya, but we did not invade. That, and we’re not even the ones in charge of the NATO operation.

    2 – We didn’t invade Afghanistan for oil – I don’t remember anybody ever saying that we did.

    3 – We didn’t invade Iraq for the oil…but the oil WAS how the Bush administration intended to pay for it. We invaded Iraq because of Bush’s pride and desire for military adventurism, as is seen in this interview with Pulitzer-prize winner Ron Suskind in his book, The Price of Loyalty when he describes his interview with Bush Treasury Secretary Paul O’Neill:

    And what happened at President Bush’s very first National Security Council meeting is one of O’Neill’s most startling revelations.

    “From the very beginning, there was a conviction, that Saddam Hussein was a bad person and that he needed to go,” says O’Neill, who adds that going after Saddam was topic “A” 10 days after the inauguration – eight months before Sept. 11.

    “From the very first instance, it was about Iraq. It was about what we can do to change this regime,” says Suskind. “Day one, these things were laid and sealed.”

    As treasury secretary, O’Neill was a permanent member of the National Security Council. He says in the book he was surprised at the meeting that questions such as “Why Saddam?” and “Why now?” were never asked.

    “It was all about finding a way to do it. That was the tone of it. The president saying ‘Go find me a way to do this,’” says O’Neill. “For me, the notion of pre-emption, that the U.S. has the unilateral right to do whatever we decide to do, is a really huge leap.”

    And that came up at this first meeting, says O’Neill, who adds that the discussion of Iraq continued at the next National Security Council meeting two days later.

    He got briefing materials under this cover sheet. “There are memos. One of them marked, secret, says, ‘Plan for post-Saddam Iraq,’” adds Suskind, who says that they discussed an occupation of Iraq in January and February of 2001.

    Based on his interviews with O’Neill and several other officials at the meetings, Suskind writes that the planning envisioned peacekeeping troops, war crimes tribunals, and even divvying up Iraq’s oil wealth.

  • nader paul kucinich gravel mckinney baldwin

    Fox the fox, rat the rat, you can ape the ape, I know about that.

  • To suggest the “cheap gas” argument is to suggest that lawmakers and national leaders are as ignorant as consumers. I would certainly hope that isn’t a case. I should get a macro for this…

    Oil is a fungible resource. This means that the only thing which lowers the price of oil is pumping more. It doesn’t matter who pumps it and it doesn’t matter who they sell it to. So long as the overall volume of oil in the total marketplace goes up then the price should go down.

    It doesn’t make any sense to invade countries for their oil, because whether we pump the oil or they pump the oil it still goes into the same general marketplace of oil. Even if we pump it and keep it for ourselves it doesn’t actually change prices. However, a war does interrupt the production of oil and may damage oil production infrastructure. That is the only way a war would effect oil prices and the result would be a temporary increase, not a decrease of any kind.

    [personal attack deleted by comments editor]


  • zingzing

    “It doesn’t make any sense, weakens our national defense and our finances, and should be opposed by all…”

    welcome to war in the middle east. libya should be the least of your concerns, although i guess it is the newest and most obama-ist. there’s little america can do to “end this war,” as it will continue without our involvement, such as it is.

    still, this is about politics, and our expenditures (of life or treasure) in libya are fairly minimal compared to other areas of the middle east. but, like any other place in the middle east, once we’ve stuck our foot in the quicksand, it’s much harder to pull it out again. the political consequences throughout the world would be severe. “we like you, people of libya, but you’re too expensive at pennies on the iraqi buck.” how would that go over?

    that said, if wars in the middle east weren’t about oil, we’d pull out. but if they are, there’s the “sense” you’re looking for, dave. we want cheap gas.

  • House Leaders probably didn’t want to lose their Defense industry contributions. Hope those people get serious primary challenges in ’12.

    who cares about RJ? That rat diggs a certain site

  • As I’ve said before, I am conflicted over the Libya conflict. That said, Congress deserved — no, had a responsibility — to act. I would have supported Democrats and Republicans however they would have voted out of conscience. The fact, though, that the pulling of the bill is despicable.

  • Well, RJ Elliott did draw our attention to these guys a day or two ago.

    No indication of what nationality the soldiers are, though. Reading between the lines, it seems as if they might be British SAS.

  • Glenn Contrarian

    Um…what US troops are in Libya?