The following open letter to House Republicans on Libya, drafted by Elliott Abrams, Robert Kagan, and William Kristol, is now being circulated for signature by leading Republican and conservative foreign policy types. The letter argues strongly that the House of Representatives should not act to cut off funds for military operations in Libya and makes the case for continued efforts to remove Muammar Qaddafi from power.
An Open Letter to House Republicans
We thank you for your leadership as Congress exercises its Constitutional responsibilities on the issue of America's military actions in Libya. We are gravely concerned, however, by news reports that Congress may consider reducing or cutting funding for U.S. involvement in the NATO-led military operations against the oppressive regime of Libyan dictator Muammar al-Qaddafi. Such a decision would be an abdication of our responsibilities as an ally and as the leader of the Western alliance. It would result in the perpetuation in power of a ruthless dictator who has ordered terrorist attacks on the United States in the past, has pursued nuclear weapons and other weapons of mass destruction, and who can be expected to return to these activities should he survive. To cut off funding for current efforts would, in short, be profoundly contrary to American interests.
We share the concerns of many in Congress about the way in which the Obama administration has conducted and justified this operation. The problem is not that he has done too much, however, but that he has done too little to achieve the goal of removing Qaddafi from power. The United States should be leading in this effort, not trailing behind our allies. We should be doing more to help the Libyan opposition, which deserves our support. We should not be allowing ourselves to be held hostage to U.N. Security Council resolutions and irresolute allies.
What would be even worse, however, would be for the United States to become one of those irresolute allies. The United States must see this effort in Libya through to its conclusion. Success is profoundly in our interests and in keeping with our principles as a nation. The success of NATO’s operations will influence how other Middle Eastern regimes respond to the demands of their people for more political rights and freedoms. For the United States and NATO to be defeated by Muammar al-Qaddafi would suggest that American leadership and resolution were now gravely in doubt—a conclusion that would undermine American influence and embolden our nation’s enemies.
In Speaker Boehner’s June 14, 2011, letter to President Obama, he wrote that he believes “in the moral leadership our country can and should exhibit, especially during such a transformational time in the Middle East.” We share that belief, and feel that now is the time for Congress to exhibit that moral leadership despite political pressures to do otherwise.