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Posted at 9:52 AM ET, 03/10/2011

An arms embargo on what, exactly?

By Jennifer Rubin

At Monday's State Department briefing there was this exchange on whether the U.N.-imposed arms embargo prevents us from providing military aid to the Libyan rebels:

MR. CROWLEY: Yes. Well, it's very simple. In the U.N. Security Council resolution passed on Libya, there is an arms embargo that affects Libya, which means it's a violation for any country to provide arms to anyone in Libya. So it's not true.

QUESTION: Okay, all right.

QUESTION: And you're not -- so then you're not going to ever consider arming the rebels?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, I can repeat if you want.

QUESTION: Yeah.

MR. CROWLEY: It would be illegal for the United States to do that

QUESTION: So that you're eliminating that as an option?

MR. CROWLEY: Well, it's not a legal option.

QUESTION: Well, but the --

QUESTION: So you're not going to do it?

QUESTION: Your counterpart at the White House said that arming the rebels - he said all options are on the table.

MR. CROWLEY: Yes.

QUESTION: And that that is one of them.

MR. CROWLEY: Okay. I haven't seen a transcript.

QUESTION: You're saying it's -- it would be illegal and the U.S. would not violate --

MR. CROWLEY: My understanding is that the UN Security Council imposed an arms embargo on Libya. It's not on the Government of Libya. It's on Libya. And as Ambassador Ivo Daalder said in his call a short time ago, the focus of NATO is how to look for ways in which -- to enforce that arms embargo.

Was this our intention or is this another major screw-up by U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice, who was not watching the draftsmanship closely enough?

Sens. John McCain (R-Ariz.) and Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) took exception to Crowley's reading of the resolution and released a statement:

Earlier today, the spokesperson of the U.S. Department of State said that, because of the arms embargo imposed by UN Security Council Resolution 1970, it would be 'illegal' for the United States or any other country to provide military assistance to the opposition forces fighting for their survival against a brutal dictatorship in Libya. In fact, the text of the UN resolution does not impose an arms embargo on 'Libya,' but rather on the 'Libyan Arab Jamahiriya,' which is the self-proclaimed name of Qaddafi's regime. We believe this language should be construed narrowly in order to hold open the possibility of providing military aid to the opposition, which presumably does not consider itself part of the 'Libyan Arab Jamahiriya.'

The President has consistently and correctly said that 'all options are on the table' in Libya. If the State Department's statement today is correct, however, it means one of the most effective options to help the Libyan people has been taken off the table. We urge the Administration to clarify its position on this important issue.

But on Wednesday White House press secretary Jay Carney was positively obtuse when asked if the U.N. arms embargo restricted the United States from sending arms to the Libyan rebels in the east:

MR. CARNEY: We believe that the arms embargo contains within it the flexibility to allow for a decision to arm the opposition, if that decision were made.

Perhaps the Obama administration didn't understand what it was signing. Maybe it now regrets it. The administration might, if it is inclined, arm the rebels. Or it might not. Rarely have we seen, even in the Jimmy Carter years, such ineptitude and paralysis. Good thing Iran, China, Russia, etc. aren't watching. Oh, wait. Yes, well that could be a problem.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 10, 2011; 9:52 AM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Comments

I think the problem is that somebody told Obama that the protesters were tea partiers.

Posted by: Larry3435 | March 10, 2011 11:28 AM | Report abuse

This is stupid. We shouldn't get militarily involved in Libya because we have no strategic interests there. But we should help the rebels in ways short of military intervention if we are convinced that they would be more pro-American than Gaddafi. I have no idea if that's the case, but Obama shouldn't declare that Gaddafi must go and then do nothing. It makes us look like chumps.

Posted by: eoniii | March 10, 2011 11:39 AM | Report abuse

Mebbe someone can slip the rebels the number of some Mexican drug lords? They seem to have enuf of our artillery compliments of the ATF......

Posted by: gopthestupidparty | March 10, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

Rubin said:
" Good thing Iran, China, Russia, etc. aren't watching. Oh, wait. Yes, well that could be a problem."
----------------------------------------------
No, they're also laughing their arses off seeing how we're going to borrow MORE money from them, while tey're not blowing their citizens' tax dollars on Libyan rebels.

You see Mz. Rubin, what they're doing is watching us dig our own graves around the world thanks to the liberal do-gooder policies you and your neocon buddies are advocating.

Case in point. Neo/non-cons place the value of Libyans ABOVE the value of real conservative Americans. Sounds like American-hating liberalism to me.

Posted by: mfray | March 10, 2011 12:15 PM | Report abuse

@ eoniii

“Obama shouldn't declare that Gaddafi must go and then do nothing. It makes us look like chumps”

I wish you had not said that. ‘Making us look like chumps’ is the whole point of every aspect of Obama’s and Hillary’s foreign policies.

Posted by: nvjma | March 10, 2011 1:52 PM | Report abuse

So, if P. J. Crowley is the State Department spokesman, does that make him the State Department's "Pajamas Media" person?

Sorry, folks, just had to say that to get it out of my system once and for all!

Posted by: aardunza | March 10, 2011 2:30 PM | Report abuse

Sorry ladies, er, women, spokesperson!

Posted by: aardunza | March 10, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

Sorry ladies, er, women, spokesperson!

Posted by: aardunza | March 10, 2011 2:36 PM | Report abuse

A few days after Obama demanded Gaddafi step down, we apparently have given up:

WASHINGTON (Reuters) – Director of National Intelligence James Clapper said Thursday that the better-equipped forces of Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi will over the long term prevail.

Clapper told the Senate Armed Services Committee that Libyan forces loyal to Gaddafi were better equipped and had more logistical resources, and “over longer term, that the regime will prevail.”


Clapper is a nitwit but presumably speaks for the administration.

Posted by: eoniii | March 10, 2011 3:03 PM | Report abuse

"I wish you had not said that. ‘Making us look like chumps’ is the whole point of every aspect of Obama’s and Hillary’s foreign policies."

Exactly, bingo. Between liberals making us look like chumps, and liberal neo/non-cons making us look like incompetent idiots, we're doomed.


Posted by: mfray | March 10, 2011 3:19 PM | Report abuse

@mfray

“Between liberals making us look like chumps, and liberal neo/non-cons making us look like incompetent idiots, we're doomed.”

“[Iran, China, Russia, etc. are] laughing their arses off seeing how we're going to borrow MORE money from them, while tey're not blowing their citizens' tax dollars on Libyan rebels.”

But if any of these creditors are really thinking of lending the deadbeat USA any more money, it would seem that THEY’RE the biggest chumps and idiots of all.

Posted by: Jeroboam | March 10, 2011 5:03 PM | Report abuse

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