No Unilateral U.S. Military Action in Libya
There has been a great deal of debate regarding how the United States should respond to the conflict in Libya.
Military commitments in this region, however small, are easily begun, but very difficult to end. This is something I have stressed for years, and a reality we continue to confront in Iraq and Afghanistan. History shows that this is a region full of surprises.
In response to my questions at a Senate Foreign Relations Committee, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made it clear that the U.S. does not know the Libyan rebel groups with any degree of familiarity. Our executive branch leaders are engaged in intense discussions on this point, but it is not a good idea to give weapons and military support to people you do not know, whose ultimate goals may not be supportive of our own policies. Implementation of a no-fly zone or the delivery of weapons to unknown rebel forces could ultimately be counterproductive to U.S. national interests and security.
I find myself in general agreement with positions taken recently by Secretary of Defense Gates and Admiral Mullen, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, when it comes to the potential use of our military in Libya. No one wants to see Gaddafi remain in power, but overt military action in this situation should not be done unilaterally and, if done at all, it should be done knowing who we are helping. We should continue to work in partnership with our allies in the region and exercise all of the diplomatic tools at our disposal.