The vote clearly demonstrates the frustration felt in the US over the administration’s policies that have brought the situation in Libya to a stalemate.
“Libya did not attack us. Libya did not attack NATO,” said Representative Tom Cole, one of the sponsors of the resolution. “However much we detest Mr. Gaddafi and his regime, we have no reason to be at war.”
On the other hand, the resolution has irritated the “hawks” ready to promote what they see as American interests whatever the cost. Top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee and former presidential candidate John McCain was much disappointed by the decision of his House’s colleagues. “I am saddened by the abandonment of America’s traditional support of those struggling for freedom and democracy,” said Senator McCain.
At the same time, passing of the resolution does not signal the readiness of the US establishment to withdraw from the war altogether. On the same day, the House rejected a resolution that would have prohibited funds for the US military to continue their participation in the anti-Gaddafi military campaign.
More so, the representatives rejected several amendments that would have accelerated the withdrawal of US forces from Afghanistan thus sending clear signals that the overall strategy of US domination remains intact.
What the lawmakers – especially Obama’s opponents among Republicans – are concerned with, is not the US foreign policy as such, but its presentation to the public in view of the already started the 2012 campaign. And therefore, one could expect more moves aimed at torpedoing the administration’s initiatives.
One of the matters the representatives are most concerned with is the purely procedural issue – whether President Obama has violated the 1973 War Powers Resolution, which requires a president to seek congressional approval within 60 days of the first military strikes, a move he as the commander in chief did not make.
But that again, is mostly a matter for domestic consumption rather than a core issue of foreign policy. There are clear signs sent from another Middle Eastern country, that instead of curbing its military activities in the region, the US is really ready to widen the scope of operation.
On Thursday, the US ambassador to Syria Robert S. Ford made an unannounced visit to Hama, a central Syrian city that has become a focal point for the four-month uprising against President Bashar al-Assad. According to State Department’s spokeswoman Victoria Nuland, the Ambassador “spent the day expressing our deep support for the right of the Syrian people to assemble peacefully and to express themselves.”
The US Ambassador’s visit to the Syrian rebels’ stronghold came on the eve of a massive rally held there every Friday. Despite the official State Department statement, some unnamed sources in the US establishment have told the France Press Agency that the real purpose of Mr. Ford’s trip to Hama was to establish contacts with the leaders of the Syrian opposition.
Syria immediately accused the US of meddling in its internal affairs.
But such activities (which can hardly be called diplomatic) seem to be OK with the US lawmakers. In any case, clandestine missions of the kind the Ambassador undertook in Hama do not fall under the 1973 War Powers Resolution, and therefore do not give ground for toying with them for electoral purposes. And as such, the administration should not worry that the lawmakers would not give a green light for further actions against Syria.
The stalemate in Libya does not seem to have taught the US anything.