THE WEEKLY STANDARD has obtained the text of a letter freshman senator Marco Rubio (R-Fla.) sent tonight to the Senate majority and minority leaders. In it, Rubio proposes that the Senate authorize the president’s use of force in Libya, and that the authorization state that the aim of the use of force should be the removal of the Qaddafi regime. (The full text of the letter is below.)
This is by far the boldest move Rubio has made—it’s perhaps the boldest move any freshman senator has made—in the three months since the beginning of the 112th Congress. Rubio is taking on those in his own party who wish to distance themselves from what they consider Obama’s war in Libya. He is answering critics of the war who have tried to cast a vague sense of illegitimacy over the action because Congress hasn’t explicitly authorized it. And Rubio is trying to push the administration into fully embracing regime change as an explicit goal, thus providing a compelling clarity for American military action—a clarity that he thinks will increase support for the effort at home and the chances of success on the ground.
This is a striking bid by a freshman senator to exercise foreign policy leadership, in the face of opposition from some in his own party and reluctance by the Obama administration. If he succeeds in galvanizing Republican support for the war and influencing the administration’s conduct of it, it will be a remarkable achievement.
March 30, 2011
Dear Senators Reid and McConnell:
I am writing to seek your support for bringing a bi-partisan resolution to the Senate floor authorizing the President's decision to participate in allied military action in Libya.
Furthermore, this resolution should also state that removing Muammar Qaddafi from power is in our national interest and therefore should authorize the President to accomplish this goal. To that end, the resolution should urge the President to immediately recognize the Interim Transitional National Council as the legitimate government in Libya.
For more than four decades, Qaddafi has terrorized the Libyan people, sowed instability among its neighbors, plotted assassination attempts against heads of state and supported terrorist enterprises such as the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, which killed 270 innocent people - including 189 Americans.
Inspired by events in Tunisia and Egypt, Libyans have rebelled against Qaddafi's brutal regime, demanding democratic reforms, transparent governance, and respect for basic human and civil rights. In response to these legitimate demands for a better future, Qaddafi has unleashed foreign mercenaries and used weapons of war against unarmed civilians.
As long as Qaddafi remains in power, he will be in a position to terrorize his own people and potentially the rest of the world. In fact he has vowed to turn rebel strongholds into "rivers of blood." If he succeeds, it will provide a blueprint to repressive regimes across the Middle East in the use of force against unarmed civilians. And unlike the conflicts in other nations in the region, the rebels in Libya have requested and welcome our support.
At the end of the day, the fact remains that our nation is not like other countries. The United States is an exceptional country with exceptional powers. But that power comes with unique moral obligations and responsibilities.
The world is a better place when America is willing to lead. And American leadership is required now more than ever.
It is my hope that you will lead the Senate to take actions along these lines as soon as possible.
United States Senator
Cc: John Kerry, Richard Lugar, Carl Levin, John McCain