By Jeremy Los
April 3, 2011- President Obama’s decision to intervene in the Libya crisis has divided both Democratic and Republican political parties, with support and opposition on both sides of the political aisle.
President Obama found a surprising supporter in East County’s Republican Representative Duncan D. Hunter. Hunter was one of the few Republican leaders to come out and support the President’s decision to unleash air attacks on Libyan forces. Hunter, a former Marine captain who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, sits on the House Armed Services Committee.
"I agree with the president. I agree with what he's done so far in his use of force. I agree with his timing. I agree on the fact that he went in with a coalition," Hunter told The Hill in interview on March 28.
This support is a stark contrast to many Republican sentiments toward the President and his decision. Possible GOP Presidential candidate and former Speaker of the House Newt Gingrich has made it a mission to disagree with the President’s decision, if it means flip-flopping on beliefs.
According to CNN, Gingrich was asking for a no-fly zone to be put on Libya as early as March 7 saying, “exercise a no-fly zone this evening." His tone took a significant change following Obama’s decision to become involved in the Libyan crisis stating six days later, “I think that two wars in Iraq and Afghanistan is a lot…I would not have intervened. I think there are a lot of other ways to affect Gadhafi."
The decision to get involved in the Libyan conflict has created mixed emotions on Capital Hill. Partisan politics seemed to have been thrown out the window, creating a rare occasion where some GOP legislators have backed a decision of President Obama.
On the Democratic side of the aisle, many liberal legislators backed the President’s decision to intervene in the Libyan crisis.
California Senator Barbara Boxer stated the importance of the United States involvement in Libya. “It was critical for the international community to take action to prevent the mass slaughter of innocent men, women and children by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces," Boxer said.
Not all Democrats backed the decision, however. Democratic Congressman Dennis Kucinich of Ohio has come out criticizing the President’s “rash” decision to get involved in the conflict.
“The President had time to consult with the international community, but had no time to come to the United States Congress? There is no question that the Administration should have followed the Constitution and received the approval of Congress before starting a war. Consulting with a few members is not the same thing as following the Constitutional requirements of Article 1, Section 8,” said Kucinich in an open letter to fellow members of Congress.
Nationally, some activist groups such as the United National Antiwar Committee have also come out vehemently opposed to the United States military and economic intervention in Libya. The UNAC has asked for an immediate halt to U.S. intervention in areas where civil uprising is taking place and notes that the U.S. has supported and armed dictatorships in the past who committed human rights abuses against civilians , contributing to the problems in the region.
Rick Greenblatt with San Diego Diego Coalition for Peace & Justice (SDCPJ) believes that the U.S. military intervention "has nothing to do with saving lives – it has everything to do with maintaining control of the Middle East in the face of a popular revolutionary wave in the Arab world." Greenblatt added, "'Humanitarian intervention' is a codeword for the new colonialism. We have seen this in Somalia, in Kosovo, in Iraq, in Afghanistan, in Haiti, and now in Libya.”
While acknowledging that Gaddafi is a brutal dictator, he feels that overthrowing Gaddafi must be left up to the Libyan people. Greenblatt added that the public is invited to a "teach-in" sponsored by SDCPJ titled "Revolution in the Arab World--Past, Present and Future" on April 9 at 4 p.m. at Thomas Jefferson School of Law, 1155 Island Avenue in downtown San Diego.
This crisis is far from over. NATO has taken over leadership of the coalition forces following the U.S.-led bombings that largely destroyed Gadhafi’s air force. But in recent days, Gadhafi loyalist forces have beaten back gains made by rebel forces. As the Libyan people continue to struggle for freedom , more pressure is bound to be put on the international coalition aiding the rebels.