Richard Lugar: No U.S. Involvement In Libya Without Congressional Authorization

While we don’t know yet the extent to which American forces will be involved in enforcing the U.N. Security Council’s resolution against Libya, I think Senator Richard Lugar is  absolutely correct here:

The top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee argued against implementing a no-fly zone over Libya on Thursday, and also said that Congress must pass a formal declaration of war if the Obama administration decides to take that step.

“Clearly, the United States should be engaged with allies on how to oppose the Qaddafi regime and support the aspirations of the Libyan people,” said Sen. Richard Lugar (R-IN) at the start of the committee’s Thursday morning hearing on the Middle East. “But given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame in a civil war, the strains on our military, and other factors, I am doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya.”

Lugar pointed to the fact that 145,000 American troops are currently deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan, and that the annual U.S. budget deficit is already around $1.5 trillion.

“In this broad context, if the Obama administration decides to impose a no-fly zone or take other significant military action in Libya, I believe it should first seek a Congressional debate on a declaration of war under Article I, Section 8 of the Constitution,” Lugar said.

This won’t happen, of course, but Lugar is absolutely correct. Libya poses no imminent threat to the United States, its vital national interests, or its allies, if we are going to engage in military action against that nation there at least ought to be a debate among the democratically representatives of the people before we do so.


FILED UNDER: Africa, Congress, Middle East, US Politics, World Politics, , , , , ,
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. Chad S says:

    If US military equipment/personnel are actively attacking libya, Lugar’s 100% right. If we’re just supporting, he’s not.

  2. John Burgess says:

    Nah… the President can send troops under his own authority as part of US treaty obligations. I don’t recall any congressional reservations that would otherwise limit him.

  3. daveinboca says:

    Right.. A UNSC resolution trumps the US Constitution according to RINO Lugar and his far-left marxist colleagues in the Senate. But Tricky Dicky-boy demurs in this instance because he likes the cut of Qadaffi’s jib.

  4. Muffler says:

    Excuse me, but apparently we can pick and choose which countries and actions require a formal declaration of war? BS!!! This is how bad partisan politics have gotten. The fact that the right would actually do this is astounding. It wasn’t two days ago on Fox that the same people where calling Obama weak for imposing a No Fly Zone on Libya. Now that Obama has massaged the security council properly and on the record everyone screams.

    Thye best part is this arrangement allows other countries to participate and bear some of the risk and cost while WE fight two other wars. The GOP is now just a bunch of “opposite” callers. There is no logic and they all sound like a bunch of old white men from the south in the 60s.

  5. Muffler says:

    Mistake – Meant “for not imposing a no fly zone” in the sentence containing “Fox” reference

  6. anjin-san says:

    Trying to remember the formal declarations of war for Gulf 1 & 2, Grenada, Panama, etc. Afraid I am drawing a blank.