The Republican congressional leadership was in a panic: their covering for the Obama administration’s unconstitutional and unnecessary war in Libya was rapidly unraveling as a resolution by Rep. Dennis Kucinich calling for an end to it gained momentum – among Republicans. Kucinich’s bill gave the administration 15 days to withdraw all US forces and support from NATO’s war, which had never been authorized by Congress.
At the last minute, House Speaker John “Crybaby” Boehner cobbled together a non-binding resolution giving the President an extension of the 60 days provided by the War Powers Resolution, asking for documents detailing our political and strategic goals, and slamming the administration for not providing “a compelling rationale” for military action. The resolution passed, 268-145, with 45 Democrats crossing the aisle and voting with the Republicans. More significantly, however, the Kucinich resolution – which would have cut off appropriations for the Libyan intervention – garnered more Republican votes (87) than Democratic “ayes” (61).
What’s going on here?
As The Hill reported, “one Democrat called it ‘the sign of the apocalypse.’” And while that may be overstating the case just a bit, the vote was indeed a sign of Something Big in the making.
It was more than mere partisan opportunism, although there’s no doubt some of that was a factor: this vote represents a sea change in the way Republicans, and conservatives generally, view the conduct of US foreign policy. For the first time since the Kosovo war, a significant faction within the GOP congressional caucus is challenging our bipartisan foreign policy of global intervention – of which the Libyan war is an exemplar.
Context is everything, and the economic crisis that has gripped the nation in recent months – underscored by an unemployment rate over 9 percent and a disastrous housing market – has driven home the point anti-interventionists have been making for years: we’re “nation-building” abroad while our own country is falling to pieces. This is something that everyone – even a Republican – can readily understand, and the freshman “tea party” class of 2010 is learning very quickly the lesson their elders refused to absorb during the Bush era: we can’t afford to police the world.
As for the Democrats, it’s not only party loyalty – and the threat of political retaliation – that’s keeping them in line. Minority leader Nancy Pelosi took to the House floor pleading with members of her own party to stay the course:
“As I have said before, the NATO-led efforts in Libya will be strengthened by continued consultation with the Congress. The resolutions by Speaker Boehner and Congressman Kucinich, as currently drafted, do not advance our efforts in the region and send the wrong message to our NATO partners.”
Pelosi was answered by Rep. Walter B. Jones, a North Carolina Republican whose district encompasses more military bases than any in the country:
“NATO’s feelings. NATO’s feelings. Well, how about the feelings of the American people? Isn’t it time that their feelings come first?”
That the American people overwhelmingly oppose US intervention in Libya matters not at all to the Pelosi-crats, and their Republican allies like Rep. Adam Kinzinger (R-Illinois), who inexplicably declared: “This war, this action in Libya, I believe sells itself.”
The reality is that the public isn’t buying this bill of goods and the Pelosi-Kinzinger alliance of knaves and fools knows it.