U.S. Libya mission exposes divisions in Congress and within GOP

The New York Times reports:

It is a familiar pattern in a government of checks and balances: members of Congress almost instinctively criticize the foreign adventures of a president from the opposite party.

But the current imbroglio in Congress over the American involvement in Libya exposes a deep and unusual foreign policy schism within the Republican Party, driven in large part by a Tea Party-infused House whose members are more fiscally conservative, particularly constitutionalist, less internationalist and, in many cases, too young to have been politically influenced by the cold war that informed the more established members of the party.

The divisions came to the fore on Tuesday when Senator John McCain, an Arizona Republican, introduced a measure with Senator John Kerry, a Massachusetts Democrat, to offer President Obama official Congressional authorization for the Libyan operation.

The legislation is an effort to blunt a series of House measures expected to seek to cut off financing for the operations in Libya as early as Thursday.

In introducing it, Mr. McCain chastised House Republicans for seeking to end the Libya mission. “Is this the time for Americans to tell all of these different audiences that our heart is not in this,” Mr. McCain said, “that we have neither the will nor the capability to see this mission through, that we will abandon our closest friends and allies on a whim? These are questions every member of Congress needs to think about long and hard, especially my Republican colleagues.”

House members of both parties and various political stripes seemed undaunted. Representative Dennis J. Kucinich, a Democrat of Ohio, will offer an amendment to a Pentagon spending bill to deny money for operations in Libya, as will Representative Justin Amash of Michigan, a Republican freshman.

Meanwhile, AFP reports:

Italy on Wednesday called for an immediate halt to hostilities in Libya to allow humanitarian aid to reach the population in the strife-torn country, while NATO defended the credibility of its air war after a bomb misfired killing civilians.

On the diplomatic front, China said it recognises Libya’s opposition National Transitional Council (NTC) as an “important dialogue partner.”

Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini warned on Tuesday that NATO’s credibility was “at risk” following the civilian casualties, and urged it to ensure it was not providing ammunition to Kadhafi’s propaganda war.

Frattini followed up his comments in a speech on Wednesday to the lower house of parliament in Rome.

“With regard to NATO, it is fair to ask for increasingly detailed information on results as well as precise guidelines on the dramatic errors involving civilians,” he said.

The comments came after NATO admitted a bomb misfired in Tripoli at the weekend, killing nine people according to Moamer Kadhafi’s regime.

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