Defense & Homeland Security

Sen. Webb has ‘serious problems’ with Obama’s handling of Libyan conflict

Sen. Jim Webb (Va.), a leading Democratic authority on national security policy, on Sunday said he has “serious problems” with President Obama’s decision to support NATO operations in Libya.

Webb has previously criticized Obama’s decision to send U.S. forces to intervene in the Libyan civil war, but he ratcheted up his criticism this weekend.

{mosads}Webb, former secretary of the Navy and a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the action sets a worrisome precedent.

“The reason that he used for going in defies historical precedent. We weren’t under attack. We weren’t under an imminent attack. We weren’t honoring treaty commitments. We weren’t rescuing Americans,” he said of Obama in an interview on NBC’s “Meet the Press.”

“We need to be clear that once [Moammar] Gadhafi is gone, we won’t have Americans in there as a peacekeeping force. We’ve got to stop this addiction. We’ve got to focus on our true strategic interests,” he added.

Webb said he worries that the military focus on Libya, Iraq and Afghanistan undermines the nation’s ability to prepare for the more serious strategic threat of China’s emergence as a military power.

But the senator stopped short of calling for Congress to cut funding for military operations in Libya.

{mosads}Instead, he is working with Sen. Dick Lugar (Ind.), senior Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee, to draft legislative amendments to limit the campaign.

One proposal would state clearly that ground forces should not be introduced to the theater.

The House last week voted down a measure sponsored by House Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) that would have barred funding for missile strikes but would have allowed aerial refueling and intelligence operations in support of NATO forces.

Webb had previously criticized U.S. military involvement for lacking a clear sense of direction.

“I really don’t believe that we have an obligation to get involved in every single occurrence in that part of the world,” Webb said during an interview with MSNBC in March. “And this issue is of much more economic importance, quite frankly, to Britain and France.”

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