Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-SC) is pouring the pressure on the Obama administration to establish a no-fly zone or deal with the historical consequences.
“One test in foreign policy – at least be as bold as the French,” Graham, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, said in a release Wednesday. “Unfortunately, when it comes to Libya we’re failing that test.”“The French and British are right to call for a no-fly zone over Libya, and they are correct to recognize the forces opposing Gaddafi,” he continued. “I’m very disappointed by the indecisiveness of the administration in the face of tyranny. They are allowing the cries of the Libyan people to fall on deaf ears.”
As Muammar Qaddafi’s forces push east and bare down on opposition rebels, the White House has continued to deflect calls for a no-fly zone in Libya, instead offering up an entirely new option Tuesday.
White House spokesman Jay Carney said the U.S. is trying to find ways to free up some of billions of dollars of assets seized from the Libyan leader’s government to provide help for the opposition. He was short on details about the plan as reporters peppered him with questions about whether the tide has already turned in Qaddafi’s favor.
So far, an international diplomatic push to create a no-fly zone to prevent Qaddafi from crushing a civilian rebellion has failed. French Foreign Minister Alain Juppe said Wednesday that several unspecified Arab countries have pledged to participate in possible military action in Libya but others are warning that any such action may be too little too late.
Britain, France and several Arab nations are urgently lobbying to overcome resistance to the no-fly zone from a number of countries on the 15-nation UN Security Council. A two-part resolution was presented to the Security Council Tuesday. One half of the resolution calls for a no-fly zone, the second would impose stricter measures to existing sanctions against the Qaddafi regime.
Meanwhile Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi’s son has said forces loyal to his father are nearing the rebel stronghold of Benghazi in the country’s east and predicted an uprising against the regime would be crushed within the next two days, according to a report in Al Jazeera.
The coalition calling for immediate U.S. action including Graham, as well as Sens. John McCain (R-AZ) and John Kerry (D-MA), are warning of grave consequences of allowing Qaddafi to regain control of Libya without a meaningful effort to support the opposition. Others, such as Defense Secretary Robert Gates and Sen. Dianne Feinstein (D-CA), who chairs the Senate Intelligence Committee, have warned against U.S. involvement in another Arab country, especially without strong international support.
If Obama does not act decisively on Libya, Graham predicted, history will be a harsh judge, and the decision not to get involved militarily will come back to haunt the U.S.
“The world is watching, and time is beginning to run short,” he said. “The Obama Administration should join with the international community to form a no-fly zone while it still matters.”