British Parliament Debates Libya Commitment (And So Do The French)

The English are so quaint, what with their odd way of spelling colour, those double-decker buses, the way they call elevators “lifts,” and their cute little devotion to the idea of democratically debating whether their country should go to war:

London – The British government won overwhelming parliamentary backing late Monday for its role in the international coalition enforcing a UN no-fly zone over Libya.

After a seven-hour debate, parliamentarians supported military action with 557 to 13 votes – a majority of 544.

The result means that not only the Conservative-Liberal coalition of Prime Minister David Cameron, but also the vast majority of lawmakers of the opposition Labour Party backed the military action.

The French Parliament is also debating their country’s involvement in the campaign:

Three days after the start of the international military mission over Libya, the French parliament is debating the commitment of French forces abroad as mandated by French law.

Meanwhile, in the United States, Barack Obama sent Congress a letter while touring South America.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Simon says:

    Doug, they are “democratically debating whether their country should go to war” fully a day after British forces participated in the first strikes in Libya. Ditto the French. So how is that any different to our situation, given that Congress could do the same if they liked? Nothing is stopping Congress from having “a seven-hour debate” over whether we “should go to war,” so the sneering is a little out of place here.

  2. Robin Peach says:

    One of our quaint UK things is not scoring political points about military action – not until later on, that is…
    For now almost everyone in the UK, who knows enough, is behind the action, though none too keen on the media being in harm’s way enough to impede it..

  3. MarkedMan says:

    I completely agree that this is disgraceful. The whole reason the founders gave congress the power to declare war was for exactly this kind of situation. Congress should hold a vote and if the answer is “no”, direct the administration to pull out immediately.

  4. Vast Variety says:

    It’s called the 1973 War Powers Act. He has 48 hours to notify congress and unless directed otherwise by congress we can’t be involved for more than 60 days. Granted, it’s probably a serious stretch of the War Powers Act but then so was Grenada, Kosovo, and both of the Iraq wars.