News / USA

Gates Defends Action in Libya

U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates  (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Operation Odyssey Dawn and U.S. Military Operations in Libya, Mar 31 2011
U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates (L) and Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Adm. Mike Mullen testify at a House Armed Services Committee hearing on Operation Odyssey Dawn and U.S. Military Operations in Libya, Mar 31 2011

Several influential congressional leaders have spoken out against the United States arming Libyan rebels, warning that too little is known about what they really stand for. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates conceded to the panel that the rebels are not a well-known or cohesive unit.

"To be honest, other than a relative handful of leaders, we do not have much visibility into those who have risen against Gadhafi," said Gates. "But I think that in a way speaking of the quote unquote opposition is a misnomer. Because it is very disparate, it is very scattered and probably each element has its own agenda."

Gates said the lack of unity and coordination is one of the Libyan rebels' biggest problems in their fight against Gadhafi's forces. He said what the rebels need most right now is training, but made clear that should not be up to the United States.

"The truth is in terms of providing that training, in terms of providing assistance to them, frankly there are many countries that can do that, that is not a unique capability for the United States and as far as I am concerned somebody else should do that," Gates said.

Admiral Mike Mullen agreed with Gates, saying it would be best if a country that is not a member of NATO would provide arms to the rebels and to give them basic training on how to use them.

Libyan rebels maintain a heavy machine gun mounted on top of a pickup truck during an exchange of fire with pro Gadhafi forces, outside the eastern town of Brega, Mar 31 2011
Libyan rebels maintain a heavy machine gun mounted on top of a pickup truck during an exchange of fire with pro Gadhafi forces, outside the eastern town of Brega, Mar 31 2011

Gates and Mullen faced questions from lawmakers of both major parties about why President Barack Obama did not consult with Congress earlier during his decision-making process, instead of just informing them only hours before the military action began.  

"We do not understand what he is doing still, and I do not think he has the support of this Congress, but that is my personal opinion. I yield back," Miller said.

One of the few voices who spoke up in firm support of the president's handling of Libya was Democratic Congressman Jim Cooper from Tennessee, who intimated that some of the criticism of the president may be politically-motivated.

"I do not think it has been mentioned so far here today, that the Senate, the U.S. Senate, on March 1 unanimously called for a no-fly zone over Libya," Cooper said."The House did not have a similar action, but that is at least some sign of congressional involvement earlier on in this process. It is no secret that this is a period of domestic tension in this country politically, but it makes me yearn for the days when politics stopped at the water's edge and we could gather behind the commander-in-chief."

Gates added that both Republican and Democratic lawmakers in the House had also called for a no-fly zone over Libya.  

Secretary Gates assured lawmakers there would be no U.S ground forces, as he put it, "no boots on the ground" as long as he holds his job.

He said the United States and the world may not know much about the Libyan opposition, but they know all too well what Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is capable of.

"This guy has been a huge problem for the United States for a long time. And the reason the Arab League came together, and the reason that the U.N. voted and the reason NATO has supported this is not because they know a lot about the opposition but because they know a lot about Gadhafi," Gates said. "And they know what Gadhafi was not only going to do to his own people, but his potentional for disrupting everything that is going on in the Middle East right now."

Gates said Arab countries in the region decided that Gadhafi had become a threat to them, and Britain and France were concerned about the killing of innocent people on a massive scale, and a major problem of thousands of refugees crossing the borders into Tunisia and Egypt.

He said the international coalition aims to keep the pressure on Gadhafi to prevent him from killing his own people and to prevent him from destabilizing the entire region.  Gates says the United States believes military, economic and political pressure will drive Gadhafi from power.

Related video report by Meredith Buel:

You May Like

Sydney Hostage-taker Failed to Manipulate Social Media

Gunman forced captives to use personal Facebook, YouTube accounts to issue his demands; online community helped flag messages, urged others not to share them More

UN Seeks $8.4 Billion to Help War-Hit Syrians

Effort aimed at helping Syrians displaced within their own country and those who've fled to neighboring ones More

Who Are the Pakistani Taliban?

It's an umbrella group of militant organizations whose objective is enforcement of Sharia in Pakistan 'whether through peace or war' More

This forum has been closed.
Comments
     
There are no comments in this forum. Be first and add one

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?i
X
Ayesha Tanzeem
December 17, 2014 11:54 AM
The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video Will Pakistan School Shooting Galvanize Pakistan Against Extremism?

The attack on a military school in Pakistan’s northwest city of Peshawar left 141 dead, including 132 children. Strong statements of condemnation poured in from across the world. The country announced three days of mourning, and the leadership, both political and military, promised retribution. VOA's Ayesha Tanzeem looks at how likely the Pakistani government is to clamp down on all extremist groups.
Video

Video ‘Anti-Islamization’ Marches Increase Tensions In Germany

Anti-immigrant rallies in Germany have been building in recent weeks, peaking Monday night in the city of Dresden where tens of thousands of people turned out to demonstrate against what they call the ‘Islamization’ of the West. Germany has offered asylum to more Syrian refugees than any other country, and this appears to have set off the protests. Henry Ridgwell reports from London.
Video

Video Aceh Rebuilt Decade After Tsunami, But Scars Remain

On December 26, 2004 there was an earthquake in the Indian Ocean so powerful it caused the Earth’s axis to wobble a few centimeters. Onshore on the island of Sumatra, the resulting tsunami was devastating. A decade later, VOA Correspondent Steve Herman reports from Banda Aceh, Indonesia, where although there is little remaining evidence of the physical devastation, the psychological scars among survivors remain.
Video

Video Refugees Living in Kenya Long for Peace in the Home Countries

Kenya is host to numerous refugees seeking safe haven from conflict. Immigrants from Somalia face challenges in their new lives in Kenya. Ahead of International Migrants Day (December 18) Lenny Ruvaga has more for VOA News from the Kenyan capital.
Video

Video Turkey's Authoritarianism Dismays Western Allies

The Turkish government has been defiant in the face of criticism at home and abroad for its raids targeting opposition media. The European Union on Monday expressed dismay after President Recep Tayyip Erdogan lashed out at Brussels for criticizing his government's action. Turkey's bid to be considered for EU membership has been on hold while critics accuse the NATO ally of increasingly authoritarian rule. Zlatica Hoke reports.
Video

Video US-China Year in Review: Hong Kong to Climate Change

The United States is pushing for a code of conduct to resolve territorial disputes in the South China Sea as it works to improve commercial ties with Beijing. VOA State Department correspondent Scott Stearns reports on a year of U.S. policy toward China from Hong Kong to climate change.
Video

Video Japanese Leader’s Election Win Raises Potential for Conflict with Neighbors

Japan’s Prime Minister Shinzo Abe and his allies easily won a two-thirds majority in parliament Sunday, even though the country has slipped into recession under his conservative policies. VOA’s Brian Padden reports from Seoul, that the prime minister’s victory will empower him to continue economic reforms but also pursue a nationalist agenda that will likely increase tensions with Japan’s neighbors.
Video

Video Nuba Mountain Families Hide in Caves to Escape Aerial Bombings

Despite ongoing peace talks between Sudan's government and the rebel Sudan People’s Liberation Movement-North, or SPLM-N, daily aerial attacks continue in South Kordofan province’s Nuba Mountains. Adam Bailes was there and reports for VOA that government forces are targeting civilian areas, rather than military positions, with their daily bombardments.

All About America

AppleAndroid