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Sen. Tom Udall

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Libya Policy Is a Slippery Slope

Posted: 06/10/11 01:45 PM ET

Over 60 days ago, President Obama notified the Congress that he intended to use military force in Libya. In the face of an imminent humanitarian catastrophe, it was the right thing to do and I supported it.

Along with the international community, the United States was clear -- the targeting of civilians by Muammar Gaddafi would not be tolerated.

But this was intended to be a limited military operation. After 60 days, I fear that we are adrift. We are without direction and we are in danger of fighting a slowly expanding war, now pushing for regime change.

We have been down this path before and it's a slippery one.

If our military is to be involved in an escalation, then Congress must exercise its Constitutional authority and approve or disapprove of the President's proposal.

Believe me, I deplore Muammar Gaddafi. I support a democratic transition and his departure from power. But the military goal should be defined and limited as a matter of policy. It should not include regime change. That is a dangerous escalation.

News today from Libya is that helicopter gunships are being used to target ground forces - something that was never originally intended under the premise of a no-fly zone. Congress has not approved this action.

We also hear that it is now the policy to support regime change and even arm rebel groups. Congress has not approved this action, either.

Flooding the region with small arms would be a major mistake and could lead to a host of unintended consequences. We do not know enough about the rebels fighting Gaddafi and there is no guarantee that we will be able to account for the weapons we provide. Who's to say those arms won't end up in the hands of some very unsavory and dangerous individuals?

Those are my opinions and there are others in the Congress that must be heard.

I have been proud to serve New Mexico as a U.S. representative and then U.S. senator for more than a decade. I have served in the Congress during two wars and I have seen the impacts on our military, on their families and on our national deficit.

Before the United States escalates its involvement in another oversees conflict, this body must weigh in. It's our constitutional duty to our country and to the people.

 

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