McCain and Kerry: Together again, on Libya

posted at 12:00 pm on June 22, 2011 by Jazz Shaw

John McCain wants you to know that he’s had enough of your isolationist arguments lacking in historical knowledge and he plans to do something about it. And he’s enlisted the unlikely support of John Kerry, of all people.

Sens. John McCain and John Kerry introduced a resolution Tuesday that would give President Barack Obama the green light to continue limited military operations in Libya.

The language of the proposal has more teeth than the “sense of the Senate” resolution McCain and Kerry rolled out last month, which was merely a symbolic gesture backing the Libya effort. The latest plan would authorize U.S. operations in Libya but expires after one year and would make clear that the Senate agrees there is no need or desire to put boots on the ground in the North African nation.

The cable talking heads are already depicting this as a sign that McCain is “supporting the President” on his decisions regarding Libya, but the senator begs to differ.

“The administration’s disregard for the elected representatives of the American people on this matter has been troubling and counterproductive,” said McCain, Obama’s 2008 rival in the presidential race. “And the unfortunate result of this failure of leadership is plain to see in the full-scale revolt against the administration’s Libya policy that has occurred in the House of Representatives.”

While I may not agree with the final conclusion, it’s hard to criticize McCain’s logic on this. In his view, toppling Gaddafi is an admirable goal and that’s not going to happen without continued military pressure from the international community. However, his characterization that the dictator’s fall is “only a matter of time” seems a bit more dodgy. If, by “time” you mean some point between now and when Gaddafi eventually dies, then sure. But given the current stalemate in Libya and the dictator’s knowledge that we’re not going to put any “boots on the ground” in his nation, that could be a long time coming.

Perhaps more surprising is Kerry signing on to the deal. Forgetting for the moment his “reporting for duty” appearance in August of 2004, he’s been something of a reluctant warrior. His history of opposition to various conflicts, including Iraq, would suggest that he might have found a third war in Libya rather distasteful. Unless he’s just doing it to show support for Obama? Hard to say.

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