WASHINGTON – Soon after President Barack Obama declared last Friday that the U.S. would wage a military intervention in Libya, members of the 75-strong House Progressive Caucus began quietly discussing how to oppose the effort with maximum impact.
By the weekend, when the first U.S. missiles struck Libya, a full caucus resolution was in the works. Members of the progressive caucus held a conference call Sunday to gather thoughts and flesh it out.
Some wanted to push more vigorously than others. Others wanted to simply state their skepticism. Yet others wanted to block funding for the effort. And there were a few who wanted to hit the president hard over the feasibility of the intervention and the constitutionality of his decision to move forward without Congress’s approval.
The plan, according to multiple sources, was to speak out against the effort, warning of a military quagmire in another Muslim country as well as invoking the pressing problems at home, the deficit and the two existing wars. As of Monday evening, the resolution was forthcoming.
Somewhere between then and Tuesday afternoon, it fell through.
“We couldn’t herd all the cats,” was how one aide explained it.
The details are sketchy and it’s not plainly known why some progressives backed out, but once it was clear not everyone would get on board, the decision was then made to not do a joint CPC resolution.
What resulted was the following statement released Tuesday evening, signed by four members, Reps. Raul Grijalva (D-AZ), Lynn Woolsey (D-CA), Mike Honda (D-CA) and Barbara Lee (D-CA).
“The decision for the United States to engage militarily in Libya is one that should have been debated and approved by Congress.
“We have serious concerns about whether or not an effective and thorough case for military intervention in Libya was made. Too many questions remain. What is our responsibility now? Do we own the situation in Libya and for how long? Where does this dramatic acceleration of military intervention end?
“There is a serious humanitarian crisis in Libya, and Gaddafi’s reckless, indiscriminate use of force on his own people in response to grassroots calls for change is unacceptable. But there are serious consequences for rushing to war with a limited understanding of the situation on the ground and no exit strategy or plan – we learned this lesson through two ill-advised wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.
“With the potential for protracted civil war in Libya, and similar circumstances of unrest and violence in the Democratic Republic of Congo, Côte d’Ivoire, Yemen, and elsewhere, we cannot afford to sidestep critical diplomatic and humanitarian efforts to rely solely upon the deployment of more guns, bombs, and troops. This represents a dangerous path toward perpetual U.S. military engagement around the world.
“The United States must immediately shift to end the bombing in Libya. Rest assured we will fight in Congress to ensure the United States does not become embroiled in yet another destabilizing military quagmire in Libya with no clear exit plan or diplomatic strategy for peace.
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