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Posted at 4:40 PM ET, 02/22/2011

Punting on Libya

By Jennifer Rubin

Unlike the White House, the House Foreign Affairs Committee chairwoman, Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinen (R-Fla.), is suggesting a strong U.S. response to the Libyan regime's mass murder of its citizens:

"The Libyan regime's widespread attacks on the Libyan people are deplorable, and all responsible for these attacks must be held to account.

Neither the protests sweeping Libya nor the regime's brutal crackdown should come as a surprise. This is a regime which has ruled the country with an iron fist for more than 42 years, and was for years designated as a state-sponsor of terrorism. The regime has no regard for the Libyan people or any people. It has the blood of Libyans, Americans, and other innocent people around the world on its hands.

The United States and all responsible nations should show in both word and deed that we condemn the Libyan regime's actions and that we will not tolerate such blatant disregard for human life and basic freedoms.

As a first step, the United States and other free democratic nations should impose economic sanctions, including freezing assets of the regime and imposing a ban on travel for all senior regime officials and their families.

The UN must also finally end the disgrace of Libya's inclusion as a member of the Human Rights Council, and send a clear signal that Qadhafi and his cadre will be held accountable for their serial human rights violations."

But for now the administration remains inert. Meanwhile, the situation in Libya is deteriorating, as The Post reports:

Libyan strongman Moammar Gaddafi on Tuesday defiantly rejected opposition demands that he give up power, vowing that he would never leave the North African nation he has ruled for more than four decades and would die a "martyr."

He spoke after leaders of a popular revolt seized control in some areas of Libya and top officials resigned to protest attacks by security forces that have killed more than 230 civilians.

All that Secretary of State Hillary Clinton could offer was some finger-wagging:

"This bloodshed is completely unacceptable," the top U.S. diplomat told reporters at the State Department, following reports that hundreds of people have been killed in days of unrest gripping the North African nation.

"There is no doubt in anyone's mind that violence must stop and that the government of Libya has a responsibility to respect the universal rights of all of its citizens and to support the exercise of those rights."

She said the regime of Moammar Gadhafi, who has ruled Libya for four decades and insisted he would die as a martyr in his homeland, "bears responsibility for what is occurring and must take actions to end the violence."

Washington was working hard to ensure "the safety and well-being of Americans," several of whom remain in Tripoli, including U.S. Embassy staff, she continued.

But what are we going to do? "Once more is known, 'we will take appropriate steps in line with our policies, our values and our laws, but we're going to have to work in concert with the international community,' she said." This is pathetic, even for this crew.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 22, 2011; 4:40 PM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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The administration is worried about a hostage crisis. Gaddafi is criminally insane and once blew up a jet carrying a couple of hundred Americans. He's a dangerous, wounded animal who must be treated carefully as long as 600 or so Americans are in Libya.

Posted by: eoniii | February 22, 2011 6:21 PM | Report abuse

I looked up the location of our aircraft carriers. We have two carriers in the Arabian Sea today but none in the Mediterranean. We're not in a position to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, to mount a rescue of Americans if necessary, or to project force effectively. It's probably prudent not to be flapping our gums when a madman has power over 600 Americans.

I agree it makes us look weak to be so outspokenly critical of our allies while being afraid to criticize our enemies.

Posted by: eoniii | February 22, 2011 8:08 PM | Report abuse

If the U.S. can't figure out how to extract what I understand are 35 American nationals from Libya, I'd say we don't even have any sabers left to rattle.

Posted by: Fithian | February 22, 2011 10:26 PM | Report abuse

Why can't Obama just call up his brother Gaddafi and ask for his help getting the 35 Americans out ?

Better yet why not send in the US Marines ?

Don't tell us they are all in Afghanistan... It would take at best a couple of hundred of our boys and a dozen of so BlackHawks.

This Administrations reaction to Libya is even more pathetic than the flip-flopping over Egypt... our enemies must be smiling. These guys have no balls !

Is President Obama a man-child ? What a tragic failing shameful presidency : (

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 22, 2011 11:37 PM | Report abuse

Never fear -- Penn is here. (Mark, natch, emerging from his Lost in Space reruns in the Situation Room. Where's the bubble-headed booby when you need it?)

Posted by: aardunza | February 22, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Ok so no carriers nearby.

What about a dozen troop air transports ? loaded with Marines ? and flying out of nearby Malta with air cover from NATO, American or Israeli fighters ?

I suppose we could even use a few hundred Arabic-speaking Israelis - disguised as Arabs, in a quick strike and rescue ?

Libya is a fraction of the distance from Israel that Entebbe, Uganda was.

Oh I forgot.. last week during the Arab world meltdown.. American diplomats - Secretary Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice launched a strident attack on Israeli settlements !! Arab autocrats smiled. Unbelievable.

Is this Obama's 3AM wake-up call ? and our man-child President can't find his pants ?

Appalling and frightening.

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 22, 2011 11:47 PM | Report abuse

Oh my God.. It gets worst.. the Post just reported...

"U.S. still awaiting Libya's permission to evacuate Americans"

By Mary Beth Sheridan and Colum Lynch
Washington Post Staff Writers
Tuesday, February 22, 2011; 10:59 PM

The United States has been unable to get Libya's permission to evacuate American citizens from the country, State Department officials said Tuesday, prompting the administration to temper its response to the Libyan crackdown.

Where can I vomit ?

Posted by: pvilso24 | February 22, 2011 11:55 PM | Report abuse

Billions for defense, but not one cent for tribute.

Posted by: aardunza | February 22, 2011 11:57 PM | Report abuse

Other than getting our folks out of Libya, why should we be the ones to enforce a "no fly" zone? We don't buy enough oil from Libya to make a difference domestically; 90% of Libya's oil and 100% of natural gas sales go to Europe. We do not have to be the world's policeman. The Europeans, especially on the left, have hated us for years. Just look at how popular our Iraq, Afghanistan, and Israel policies are in Europe. Oh, and have you noticed that they have little or no military? Only the Brits have a credible military that can deploy without our assistance. I'd love to see France and Italy try to invade Libya. So, get our guys out and let Europe take care of itself, if it can. Maybe they will see the "light" over there. Heavens, the Dutch army is unionized!!

Posted by: spinoneone | February 23, 2011 12:48 AM | Report abuse


Whenever someone says something is "unacceptable" but takes no meaningful action to stop the "unacceptable" activity, I conclude that the speaker is full of excrement.

COMPLETELY UNACCEPTABLE elevates the status of the speaker to ..... sorry I don't have a term that adequately communicates ny contempt.

Posted by: pilsener | February 23, 2011 1:02 AM | Report abuse

Ms. Rubin is so impatient! It was only yesterday that any journalist got into Libya, and that is because the opposition has control of the east around Benghazi.
Why not wait another day or two to see whether this is a full blown civil war, or a coup?

Italy, France, and Spain have five carriers between them, and surely can deal with the Med.

The USN has four carrier groups currently encircling the Arabian peninsula. The Lincoln moved from Bahrain to the coast of Iran. The Enterprise is passing through the Red Sea. The USS George Washington and USS Carl Vinson reported in the Gulf of Aden. That is according to Debka
although the Enterprise's passage through the Suez Canal is verifiable. as is the Marine amphibious assault USS Kearsarge sitting south of the Suez Canal. Yes, those two Iranian warships were delayed long enough to be boxed in by the Enterprise and kearsage groups - and possibly searched in accordance with the sanctions - who knows?

A fifth carrier group, USS Ronald Reagan departed San Diego on Feb 2. The USS Enterprise was on it's way for scheduled relief of the Lincoln or the Vinson, and the GW is based in Japan, so I guess China is making sure North Korea does nothing crazy while the GW is hanging out by Yemen.

Interesting Reuters report today says the US chartered a ferry to transport non-diplomat Americans from Libya to Malta (and they have to pay for their passage). There are tens of thousands of Chinese, South Korean, Turkish, and Indian workers also being evacuated from Libya. Seems to be a problem with the airport in Tripoli. Thousands of Tunisian and Egyptian migrant workers seem to be walking/driving to the borders.

The real question is who is guarding the oil fields, also in the east, from Qaddafi's threat to set them on fire. That might be the trigger for the Marines on the Kearsage to deploy in a joint venture with the Egyptian Army to secure the oil fields.

As horrible as Libya is, the US priorities right now are 1) Bahrain, 2) Suez Canal, and 3) Yemen.

Posted by: K2K2 | February 23, 2011 9:46 AM | Report abuse

Reuters also reported that the UK is sending a frigate to the "shores of Tripoli"

Let the EU take the lead on Libya.

Posted by: K2K2 | February 23, 2011 9:49 AM | Report abuse

correction: The USS Lincoln carrier group is now in the South China Sea.
and Turkey is sending warships to escort the ferries carrying 3,000 of the 25,000 Turks who were working in Libya.

The EU is threatening sanctions, but Berlusconi says Libya is a-ok.

WSJ reports "that the oilfields of Missala, Nafoora and Sarir are now under [Zawiya] tribal control.

yes, time to start noting who is from which tribe in Libya.

Posted by: K2K2 | February 23, 2011 11:14 AM | Report abuse

History has sadly shown that there too many apologist, wait-and-see non-leaders like Obama. So many have died in the cause of freedom, yet many bureaucrats are only too willing to forget this and to let others die for democracy. France helped us gain freedom. News out of Egypt and Syria shows that people want our help and we are losing a great opportunity to be friends; that and extremist groups are becoming the heroes. And, no we don't necessarily have to send in the Marines- but we do have to do more than say "bad boy." Instead perhaps we in the US are in as great a danger: Hilary talks about how great the Internet is in support of freedom yet the government is in truth reacting like a totalitarian regime: The Justice Dept is trying to subpoena info on Wikileaks supporters when the only damage that's happened is to government credibility; Obama wants an Internet kill switch; and the Justice Dept. is suggesting to B of A that it should hire someone to spy on Americans. How far this country has fallen!

Posted by: gpmarkb | February 23, 2011 1:03 PM | Report abuse

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