Sen. Kirk calls US action in Libya 'war'

March 23, 2011 5:28:48 AM PDT
Republican Senator Mark Kirk says the United States is at war with Libya and its leader, Moammar Gadhafi.

A 20-year veteran Navy reservist, Kirk (R-IL) is considered a Capitol Hill expert on military and foreign affairs. He wants the U.S. role of forces in Libya formalized by an act of congress.

"When Congress resumes, I hope the president seeks an authorization for the use of force," said Kirk at a luncheon Monday. "I will vote for it, because I support the president's position."

After a speech to the City Club of Chicago, Senator Kirk, a self-described "foreign policy hawk," said the situation involving the United States and Libya is unmistakable.

"This is a war. When you're dropping bombs and they're shooting back it's a war," said Kirk. "A presidential address from the Oval office is necessary to outline the mission, how he expects to achieve it and who is in charge."

So far, American forces have fired more than 120 tomahawk missiles at targets in Libya, joining British and French warplanes enforcing a no-fly zone over the country. The allies say that their efforts are aimed at protecting civilians from the troops and tanks controlled by Gadhafi.

In South America today, President Barack Obama insisted that overthrowing Gadhafi's regime is not the endgame.

"When it comes to our military action, we are doing so in support of U.N. Security Resolution 1973 that specifically talks about humanitarian efforts, and we are going to make sure that we stick to that mandate," said Obama.

With combat troops already on the ground in two Muslim countries, U.S. Defense Secretary Robert Gates said the United States will not lead the allied effort in Libya.

"We will have a military role in the coalition, but we will not have the pre-eminent role," said Gates.

Back in Chicago, Kirk denied the intervention is an oil grab by the U.S. and its European allies. Nonetheless, he said an end to Gadhafi's regime could help lower gasoline prices.

"I think that would especially reassure oil markets and help lower the price of gasoline in the West, including the United States," said Kirk.

Kirk said that since the shooting war is under way, the allied endgame should be to end the Gadhafi regime in Libya.

Kirk said anyone who would replace Gadhafi would be an improvement as the United States is concerned.