If Republicans really believe the nonsense they’re spewing about Libya, then they have no one but themselves to blame, as they were warned by their own conservative policy makers that their actions on Libya were undermining America and emboldening our “enemies”.
Remember June of 2011, when Republicans voted for the first time since 1999 to deny a president’s authority to carry out a military operation? That was Libya. Say it with me — “mixed messages”.
Republicans, who gave Bush unfettered war powers, suddenly found a new way to obstruct the Democratic President – they’d cut off funding for Libya and deny him the authority to carry out the mission.
Politico reported in June of 2011 (emphasis mine):
House Republicans are planning to vote on a bill that would prohibit funding of the American mission in Libya, a shift from previous plans to consider a weaker rebuke of President Barack Obama’s military intervention in the north African country.
The new measure, likely to be considered Friday, would “restrict funds for the remainder of the fiscal year, but in a responsible way,” said Michael Steel, a spokesman for Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio).
The change is a response to a desire among House Republicans to vote on a stronger version of a resolution Boehner had prepared Tuesday night that many experts believe would be found unconstitutional in the unlikely event that both chambers approved of it. The House will also take up, as previously planned, another resolution authorizing the use of American force in Libya. That measure is designed to fail and show Obama that he does not have the support of the House for U.S. operations in Libya.
Back then, the conservative Tea Party base somehow had the notion that they should want Gadhafi to stay in power. Where did they ever get that idea?
House Republicans were warned not to do this by their own side, as it would send “mixed messages” and embolden the oppressors and the terrorists, but they put on a big show about denying funding and did deny Obama the authority anyway. At the time, interventionist war hawks ignored the genocide going on in Libya. Rep. Tim Johnson (R-Ill.) accused Obama of being a war-monger, even though other Republicans were warning of the threat to American national security.
“Such a decision would be an abdication of our responsibilities as an ally and as the leader of the Western alliance,” they write. “It would result in the perpetuation in power of a ruthless dictator who has ordered terrorist attacks on the United States in the past, has pursued nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and who can be expected to return to these activities should he survive. To cut off funding for current efforts would, in short, be profoundly contrary to American interests.
What would be even worse, however, would be for the United States to become one of those irresolute allies. The United States must see this effort in Libya through to its conclusion. Success is profoundly in our interests and in keeping with our principles as a nation. The success of NATO’s operations will influence how other Middle Eastern regimes respond to the demands of their people for more political rights and freedoms. For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt–-a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.
So, according to conservatives from former administrations and policy makers, House Republicans were playing with fire. Republicans were, in June of 2011, considering giving aid to terrorists, being profoundly contrary to American interests, being irresolute in being for America, undermining American influence and emboldening our nation’s enemies.
They still managed to accomplish these goals in refusing to grant the authority to the Obama administration to continue in Libya. They said they did this over the war powers act, but not only has that act been largely ignored by all presidents, but interventionists who supported Bush’s wildly reckless expansion of executive power have no moral standing when it comes to clutching pearls over war powers. The Republican obstruction of the Libya mission was purely political.
And everyone knew it. Senator Lindsey Graham (R-S.C) said they obstructed Libya because Obama was President. He chastised House Republicans after Gadhafi died “for their hesitance to assist anti-Gadhafi Libyan rebels and for criticizing President Barack Obama’s use of U.S. military resources to assist in air strikes.”
“I’m very disappointed in Congress… Congress took an irrational view of the War Powers Act. I guarantee you that a lot Republicans who wanted the War Power Act invoked would not have asked for it to be invoked if President Obama were not president. To me, national security should be as bipartisan as possible.”
When Obama got another one right, and rid the world of yet another dictator, Republicans were dismayed. Andrew Sullivan pointed out then, “To rid the world of Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki and Moammar Qaddafi within six months: if Obama were a Republican, he’d be on Mount Rushmore by now.”
Cut to 2012, and suddenly ludicrous Republicans claim Obama wasn’t strong enough in Libya.
Mitt Romney, in his ill-advised statement in which he accused Obama of “sympathizing” with the attackers — sent to the press at 10 PM on 9/11, a day he had pledged not to politicize — blamed the President for a tweet sent from the scared folks in the embassy and falsely claimed that due to this tweet, Obama was sympathizing with the attackers. Not only was this bizarre, but for a man who won’t tell us his foreign policy except to note that he’d take orders from his Generals, this was a most unsettling ode to personal attacks masquerading as foreign policy.
Republicans have been anxious to recapture the narrative after the press destroyed Romney for doubling down in an odd presser in which Romney couldn’t stop smirking and smiling.
And so we got Republicans trying their best to reinvent reality often enough that their fairy tale would replace reality, proving that this was never about a real policy position and hence rendering their criticisms unworthy of airing. Murdoch’s Fox went on a 24 hour attack reality loop just to make sure their cult knew what they were supposed to say the next day and the echo chamber of the Right wing media followed along.
It worked for them back when we went into Libya and Republicans were playing politics again with foreign policy, weakening America’s interests and sending mixed messages. A Gallop poll revealed:
Republicans’ opinions have changed the most since March, moving to 39% approval from 57%. This likely reflects increased criticism of the mission’s legality and cost from some Republican congressional leaders and presidential candidates.
It takes some doing to convince mindlessly cheering war hawks that suddenly they hate any kind of intervention, but the Republicans managed to do that with the valiant efforts of their PR network for whom failures in consistency of values can be overridden via God and hatred of Obama (synonymous over there, by the way).
Conservative policy wonks went after the House Republicans as they were threatening to stop funding Libya. They said foreign policy shouldn’t be partisan and that Obama should be doing “more” there, not less.
You want to know what they really mean by “more”, since they keep repeating it now even though the House Republicans refused to authorize the Libya mission? Just in case you thought there was a legitimate intellectual argument on the horizon finally, and that we were going to have a real discussion about expansion of powers, the conservatives mean we could have made money in Libya if only Obama had put troops on the ground.
Senator Graham on Fox News regarding Gadhafi’s death said, “The problem with leading from behind is we don’t have the infrastructure we should have. Let’s get in on the ground, there’s money to be made there and oil to be produced.”
Watch here via Think Progress:
The bad news for the Republicans who obstructed the Libya mission was that 85% of Americans also agreed the goal was to get Gadhafi. And then we got him.
Oopsie. Another win for Obama, no thanks to House Republicans, who sent mixed messages and undermined America’s interests because they were too busy playing politics and trying to destroy this President.
Lest anyone catch on, Republicans went into attack mode after Romney brought too much attention to the matter. Must reboot. Talk about terror. Say Obama weak. Say Romney strong. Convince the public that black is white (literally).
Not only is Mitt Romney an ostensible threat to our national security, but his party has proven that they would rather embolden our enemies than unify with this President for America’s best interests. Mitt Romney and House Republicans have proven that they will politicize national security, no matter what the costs.
Ms. Jones is the editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah has won two Telly Awards and is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.