U.S. General: Libya Could End with Gadhafi Still in Power

Mar 21, 2011 4:40pm

ABC's Martha Raddatz reports:

Could the international coalition’s attack on Libya end in a stalemate?

Even after the massive international bombing campaign, might Libya’s longtime leader, Col. Moammar Gadhafi, still refuse to give up  power?

The U. S. general leading the forces in Libya says, in a word, yes.

At today’s Pentagon briefing U.S. General Carter Ham was asked, “We've heard repeatedly from Pentagon officials and military commanders that Gadhafi is not a target. Can you see a situation where he remains in power? Are you worried that — that it will end in a stalemate? Does that concern you?

” I do see a situation where that — that could be the case, ” Ham said, “I have — again, it's perhaps easier for me to address that than it is for others, because I have a very discrete military mission. And so I could see accomplishing the military mission, which has been — which has been assigned to me, and the current leader would — would remain the current leader.

“Is that ideal? I don't think anyone would say that that is ideal. But I could envision that as a — as a possible situation, at least for the current mission that I have.”

Obama administration officials have repeatedly said the military operation will be short in duration and scope, and that the United States will hand over authority to its coalition partners soon. The transition will happen in a "matter of days, not a matter of weeks," President Obama said today.

And the British defense secretary has said that targeting Gadhafi might be “legitimate,” but U.S. officials -including the chairman of the joint chiefs, Admiral Mike Mullen,  have not gone that far.

"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," Mullen said yesterday on This Week with Christiane Amanpour.

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