'This Week' Transcript: Target Libya


MULLEN: Well, we're very focused on the limited objectives that the president has given us and actually the international coalition has given us, in terms of providing the no-fly zone so that he cannot attack his own people, to avoid any kind of humanitarian massacre, if you will, and to provide for the humanitarian corridors, humanitarian support of the Libyan people.

AMANPOUR: So you say a limited objective, but we've heard from the president, we've heard from the secretary of state, Gadhafi has to go. Is that the military objective?

MULLEN: Well, the military objective is -- is as I just described it, in terms of -- the mission is very clear right now. It's to focus on getting this no-fly zone in place and to support the U.N. objectives of no humanitarian crisis and humanitarian support, protecting Libyan civilians.

AMANPOUR: So it's possible that we could have, like Iraq, a 12- year no-fly zone with the strongman still in place?

MULLEN: Well, again, I think circumstances will drive where this goes in the future. I wouldn't speculate in terms of length at this particular point in time. It's had a pretty significant effect very early in terms of our ability to address his forces -- to attack his forces on the ground, which we did yesterday outside Benghazi, and get the no-fly zone stood up.

AMANPOUR: What about other countries, such as Bahrain, such as Yemen? If the United States military is attacking to protect civilians in Libya, why not in Bahrain and Yemen?

MULLEN: Well, I think, first of all, just back to Libya, a very important part of this has been the Arab League vote to establish a no-fly zone and the -- the partners -- the coalition partners that are coming into play with respect to Libya.

AMANPOUR: Correct. But what's the logic?

MULLEN: In terms of...

AMANPOUR: Of other people being -- civilians being killed in other countries where the U.S. has an interest?

MULLEN: Well, I think -- I think we have to -- to be very careful to treat every country differently. Certainly, there's a tremendous change going on right now throughout the Middle East, including in Bahrain. And Bahrain is a much different -- in a much different situation than Libya.

We haven't had a relationship with Libya for a long, long time. The Bahrainis and that country has been a critical ally for decades. So we're working very hard to support a peaceful resolution there, as tragic as it has been, and we certainly decry the violence which has occurred in Bahrain. I just think the approach there needs to be different. AMANPOUR: Do you think the Libyans have the wherewithal to retaliate against the United States or its allies in the region or here?

MULLEN: I don't think -- from a military standpoint, certainly, they have some capability. And -- and yet, at least if I were to take the first 24 hours or so, they've -- they've not been a very effective force.

Part of what you do when you go into this is you assume they have a fairly significant capability or the capability they have is good until proven otherwise. We've taken out their air defense. We've actually stopped -- attacked -- we've attacked some of their forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi. And yesterday they were on the march to Benghazi. They were lobbing rockets and mortars in Benghazi...

AMANPOUR: So Benghazi is safe?

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