Hillary Clinton on Libya: “Nothing is Off the Table”Posted: March 1, 2011
CNN: From Geneva, Switzerland yesterday, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton warned that
“nothing is off the table” as the United States works with allies to stop the bloodshed in Libya where embattled leader Moammar Gadhafi struggles to remain in power. But as the Pentagon confirms that the United States is “repositioning” naval and air forces to be prepared for any option with Libya, Secretary Clinton said there is no pending U.S. naval actions planned against Libya. “We do believe that there will be the need for support for humanitarian intervention,” she said when asked about the reports.
Clinton’s remarks come as she meets with European Union ministers. Monday the EU agreed to impose economic sanctions on Libya, including an arms embargo, freezing Ghadaffi’s assets and banning travel to Libya. This is the latest action after the United States announced similar sanctions Friday.
Speaking to reporters, Clinton said that U.S. humanitarian teams have been sent to Libya’s borders of Tunisia and Egypt. Clinton said USAID has set aside an additional $10 million for humanitarian aid including much needed medical supplies.
Today, Hillary was back in Washington, and she went to Capital Hill to testify before the House Foreign Affairs Committee and argued, in so many words, that cutting diplomatic funds to deal with foreign crises would be penny-wise and pound foolish
The comments came a day after the US began repositioning warships and military aircraft in the Libya region.
Mrs Clinton repeated demands that Col Muammar Gaddafi “must go now, without further violence or delay”.
“The entire [Middle East] region is changing, and a strong and strategic American response will be essential, Mrs Clinton said to the House of Representatives Foreign Affairs Committee in prepared testimony.
“In the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy, or it could face protracted civil war. The stakes are high.
Voice of America provided more information on from Hillary’s Congressional testimony:
Clinton said the U.S. is sending humanitarian and military teams to help those fleeing Libya for Tunisia and Egypt. She called the situation in Libya an example of how the State Department must use diplomatic resources to sustain and advance U.S. security.
Clinton’s testimony comes as the U.S. Congress battles over the country’s proposed budget, with some lawmakers demanding deep cuts in spending. But she warned members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that reductions in diplomatic spending could come at a high cost.
She said a failure to fund civilian missions in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq could cause military gains to erode or be erased.
Clinton said shifting responsibilities from military to civilian efforts saves money. She said the U.S. military’s total worldwide request dropped by $45 billion from 2010, while the State Department’s cost will increase by less than $4 billion.
It sounds like the US and other Western countries are nearing a decision about whether to intervene in some way in the carnage in Libya. On Al Jazeera there has been more talk of imposing a no-fly zone over Libya, but a number of commentators have pointed out that this would be a very serious step. It means that those enforcing the no-fly zone would be committed to shooting down violators. It would also mean taking out Libya’s air defenses. In other words, it means military action in Libya.
It will be interesting to see what the next step will be. It certainly does feel as we are building toward something serious.