Top Senate Democrats came to President Barack Obama’s defense on the Libya bombing campaign Wednesday, insisting that the U.S. participation in the operation was limited and would soon end.
In an unusual conference call designed to address growing criticism from all corners of Congress, Sens. Dick Durbin (D-Ill.), Carl Levin (D-Mich.) Jack Reed (D-R.I.), the chairman and a top member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, all offered strong support to Obama’s decision to have U.S. forces attack units loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi as part of an international coalition led by NATO allies Britain and France.
The fact that a trio of top Senate Democrats — who were highly critical of President George W. Bush’s conduct of the war in Iraq — felt compelled to defend a Democratic president who’s launched a new war front shows just how worried some Democrats are about the Libya military action. In fact, Durbin went as far as comparing Obama’s action in Libya to President George H. W. Bush’s international coalition in the first Persian Gulf War.
The three Democratic senators are among the few congressional leaders in either party to come out in strong support of Obama’s plan for the Libyan campaign so far. Republican leaders have been largely silent, and House Democratic leaders have been tepid in their statements.
Durbin said Obama worked to build an “international base of support” among U.S. allies and Arab nations before authorizing any U.S. attack on Qadhafi forces, and the Illinois Democrat added that he believed it would be a short-lived military campaign for American air and naval units alone.
“I think a this point in time, the reports are positive about what we have done, and they are certainly are positive in terms of the coalition we have put together,” Durbin told reporters on Wednesday.