Rand Paul to John Kerry: If it was wrong to bomb Cambodia without Congress’s approval, why is bombing Libya without approval okay?
Excellent, and not just the Libya stuff. Stick with it for Paul’s questions about how smart it is to be arming the Muslim Brotherhood in Egypt when Morsi is already wheezing about Jews controlling the media in official diplomatic sessions with the U.S. If you’re wondering why it fell to Paul to ask this question instead of any of the more senior senators who preceded him, it’s because the Senate was perfectly happy to have Obama act unilaterally on Libya. The Iraq war authorization came back to haunt many of them; no one knew at the time how messy Libya might get. O did them a favor, left and right, by freeing them from a tough vote. But Kerry can’t say that so instead he squirms through a few minutes of how the two bombing campaigns are different because they just are. Frankly, Paul let him off easy. You could, if you chose, defend U.S. actions in Cambodia as a cross-border extension of the war already being fought in Vietnam. No such defense for Libya; if anything, the Libya war cut against the AUMF against Al Qaeda that was passed after 9/11 because, as we’ve recently learned, eliminating Qadaffi was actually a boon to jihadist groups like AQ.
My one criticism of Paul here is his failure to press Kerry on his proferred excuse, that Obama had no time to ask Congress for action because Qadaffi was about to put thousands of Libyan rebels in Benghazi to the sword. Nonsense. Go look at the timeline leading up to the west’s military intervention. Protests against Qadaffi broke out in mid-February; by February 21, Libyan diplomats were asking the UN for a no-fly zone. A day later Hillary was issuing public statements denouncing Qaddafi and by March 1 the Senate had passed a non-binding resolution — unanimously — encouraging the UN to impose that no-fly zone. It wasn’t until March 15, however, that NFZ was finally approved and not until March 19 that France, backed by the U.S., began an air campaign over the country. Obama had nearly an entire month in which he could have asked for congressional approval but Kerry wants you to believe that his decision was made under some sort of emergency conditions, a la an invasion or nuclear attack, where the president had no choice logistically but to act on his own. Pitiful. He’ll be confirmed with 95+ votes anyway.