Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA) took to the Senate
floor Tuesday morning to announce a new bipartisan resolution endorsing the
Obama administration's military intervention in Libya.
"Make no mistake, neither the U.N. nor any nation
should be drawn into military intervention lightly. But there were legitimate
reasons for establishing a no-fly zone over Libya and forcing Gadhafi to keep
his most potent weapons out of the fight. If you slice through the fog of
misinformation and weigh the risks and benefits alongside our values and
interests, the justification is clear and compelling," Kerry said.
Kerry, who also announced that Sen. John McCain (R-AZ) and several others
were joining him in sponsoring the resolution, tied the Libya intervention to
the protest movements sweeping the Middle East and highlighted the humanitarian
justification for using military force in the country.
"Silently accepting the deaths of Muslims, even at
the hand of their own leader, could have set back relations for decades.
Instead, by responding and giving the popular uprising a chance to take power,
the U.S. and our allies sent a message of solidarity with the aspirations of
people everywhere that will be remembered for generations," Kerry argued.
Kerry said the resolution is not a "blank check" for
the president because it authorized the limited use of U.S. forces in a
supporting role, bars the use of ground troops, and expires in one year.
Kerry also agreed with the administration's
argument that the military intervention in Libya does not
require Congressional authorization under the War Powers Resolution because the
activities there do not rise to the level of "hostilities" as described in the
"I do not think our limited involvement rises to the
level of hostilities defined by the War Powers Resolution," he said. "There
was, I understand, some disagreement within the administration itself."
He warned that, if Congress seemed divided or unsure
of its resolve on Libya, it would send the wrong message to Libyan leader Muammar al-Qaddafi, and defended
spending money on the Libya intervention even during a time of fiscal crisis.
"By supporting this resolution, we tell Arabs young
and old that the United States is willing to make tough decisions and spend our
tax dollars to help ensure your freedom. Our own security will be strengthened
immeasurably if we can play midwife to these budding democracies," Kerry said.
"And the cost now will be far less than the cost in the future if we lose our
Full text of the resolution after the jump:
Joint Resolution Authorizing the Limited Use of the United States Armed Forces in Support of the NATO Mission in Libya
peaceful demonstrations that began in Libya, inspired by similar
movements in Tunisia, Egypt, and elsewhere in the Middle East, quickly
spread to cities around the country, calling for greater political
reform, opportunity, justice, and the rule of law.
Muammar Qaddafi, his sons, and forces loyal to them responded to the
peaceful demonstrations by authorizing and initiating violence against
civilian non-combatants in Libya, including the use of airpower and
on February 25, 2011, President Barack Obama imposed unilateral
economic sanctions on, and froze the assets of, Muammar Qaddafi and his
family, as well as the Government of Libya and its agencies to hold the
Qaddafi regime accountable for its continued use of violence against
unarmed civilians and its human rights abuses and to safeguard the
assets of the people of Libya;
on February 26, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed
Resolution 1970, which mandates international economic sanctions and an
in response to Qaddafi's assault on civilians in Libya, a "no-fly zone"
in Libya was called for by the Gulf Cooperation Council on March 7,
2011; by the head of the Organization of the Islamic Conference on March
8, 2011; and by the Arab League on March 12, 2011;
Qaddafi's advancing forces, after recapturing cities in eastern Libya
that had been liberated by the Libyan opposition, were preparing to
attack Benghazi, a city of 700,000 people and the seat of the opposition
government in Libya, the Interim Transitional National Council;
Qaddafi stated that he would show "no mercy" to his opponents in
Benghazi, and that his forces would go "door to door" to find and kill
on March 17, 2011, the United Nations Security Council passed
Resolution 1973, which mandates "all necessary measures" to protect
civilians in Libya, implement a "no-fly zone", and enforce an arms
embargo against the Qaddafi regime;
President Obama notified key congressional leaders in a meeting at the
White House on March 18, 2011, of his intent to begin targeted military
operations in Libya and made clear that the United States "is not going
to deploy ground troops into Libya";
the United States Armed Forces, together with coalition partners,
launched Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya on March 19, 2011, to protect
civilians in Libya from immediate danger and enforce an arms embargo and
a "no-fly zone";
on March 28, 2011, President Obama stated, "America has an important
strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who
oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional
refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the
peaceful-yet fragile-transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. The democratic
impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the
darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that
violence is the best strategy to cling to power...So while I will never
minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a
failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for
on March 31, 2011, the United States transferred authority for
Operation Odyssey Dawn in Libya to NATO command, with the mission
continuing as Operation Unified Protector;
in a letter to joint bipartisan congressional leaders on May 20, 2011,
President Obama expressed support for a Senate resolution on the use of
force in Libya and stated that, "Since April 4, U.S. participation has
consisted of: (1) non-kinetic support to the NATO-led operation,
including intelligence, logistical support, and search and rescue
assistance (2) aircraft that have assisted in the suppression and
destruction of air defenses in support of the no-fly zone and (3) since
April 23, precision strikes by unmanned aerial vehicles against a
limited set of clearly defined targets in support of the NATO-led
coalition's efforts."; and
on June 9, 2011, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton recognized the
Transitional National Council "as the legitimate interlocutor for the
Libyan people during this interim period.": Now, therefore, be it
Resolved by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,
SECTION 1. SENSE OF CONGRESS.
It is the sense of Congress that-
the men and women of the United States Armed Forces and coalition
partners who are engaged in military operations to protect the people of
Libya have demonstrated extraordinary bravery and should be commended;
the United States Government should continue to support the aspirations
of the people of Libya for political reform and self-government based
on democratic and human rights;
the goal of United States policy in Libya, as stated by the President,
is to achieve the departure from power of Muammar Qaddafi and his
family, including through the use of diplomatic and economic pressure,
so that a peaceful transition can begin to an inclusive government that
ensures freedom, opportunity, and justice for the people of Libya; and
the funds of the Qaddafi regime that have been frozen by the United
States should be returned to the people of Libya for their benefit,
including humanitarian and reconstruction assistance, and the President
should explore the possibility with the Transitional National Council of
using some of such funds to reimburse NATO countries for expenses
incurred in Operation Odyssey Dawn and Operation Unified Protector.
SEC. 2. AUTHORIZATION FOR THE LIMITED USE OF UNITED STATES ARMED FORCES IN LIBYA.
Authority.-The President is authorized to continue the limited use of
the United States Armed Forces in Libya, in support of United States
national security policy interests, as part of the NATO mission to
enforce United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 (2011) as
requested by the Transitional National Council, the Gulf Cooperation
Council, and the Arab League.
Expiration of Authority.-The authorization for such limited use of
United States Armed Forces in Libya expires one year after the date of
the enactment of this joint resolution.
SEC. 3. OPPOSITION TO THE USE OF UNITED STATES GROUND TROOPS.
with the policy and statements of the President, Congress does not
support deploying, establishing, or maintaining the presence of units
and members of the United States Armed Forces on the ground in Libya
unless the purpose of the presence is limited to the immediate personal
defense of United States Government officials (including diplomatic
representatives) or to rescuing members of NATO forces from imminent
SEC. 4. REPORTS TO CONGRESS.
President shall consult frequently with Congress regarding United
States efforts in Libya, including by providing regular briefings and
reports as requested, and responding to inquiries promptly. Such
briefings and reports shall include the following elements:
(1) An updated description of United States national security interests in Libya.
An updated statement of United States policy objectives in Libya, both
during and after Qaddafi's rule, and a detailed plan to achieve them.
(3) An updated and comprehensive list of the activities of the United States Armed Forces in Libya.
An updated and detailed assessment of the groups in Libya that are
opposed to the Qaddafi regime, including potential successor
A full and updated explanation of the President's legal and
constitutional rationale for conducting military operations in Libya
consistent with the War Powers Resolution (50 U.S.C. 1541 et seq.).
Brendan Smialowski/Getty Images