Foreign and Defense Policy

Some Libya Action Items

The Obama administration is getting the tar kicked out of it in the blogosphere for sitting on its hands for days, watching as Qadhafi massacres his own people. It’s not an easy situation in the Middle East, and a little hesitation from the administration is understandable. A very little. But President Obama’s complete moral and political paralysis is inexplicable.

Meanwhile, on Capitol Hill, a few have stood out for their responses. Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry called on Qadhafi to step down. Senators Mark Kirk and Jon Kyl called on the president to speak out clearly for the Libyan people. Some are looking for additional measures—legislation Congress can send to a president apparently incapable of action on his own. My AEI colleague Paul Wolfowitz weighed in with some suggestions in today’s Wall Street Journal. The International Crisis Group had some useful thoughts here. Under the International Emergency Economic Powers Act, Obama has wide latitude to impose a variety of sanctions on Qadhafi and family, as well as provide aid to his opponents. And make no mistake, Congress cannot substitute for decisive action from a U.S. president. But absent that action, what could Congress do?

—Authorize the establishment of a no-fly zone over Libya

—Mandate the freezing of assets of all regime members and families, including senior military

—Suspend all licensing and contracts with Libya, impose financial sanctions

—Authorize aid to provide emergency communications to regime opponents

—Encourage Libya’s neighbors to open borders and aid refugees

—Provide needed medical equipment

—Deny visas to all regime officials, family members, and associates

These are just some initial thoughts. We could encourage other countries to do as we do … and our own president to man up.

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