What is Endgame in Libya?: Questions for Deputy National Security Advisor Ben Rhodes

Mar 19, 2011 6:35pm

TAPPER: How long do you see this going on? And what is the endgame? Are you guys prepared to have this happen and continue for years enforcing a no-fly zone and/or enabling others to enforce it? And is it possible that this could end with Gadhafi remaining in power? 

BEN RHODES, Deputy National Security Advisor for Strategic Communications: “A couple of points Jake. First of all, the UN Security Council resolution that we are enforcing — 1973 — is very much specified on the protection of Libyan civilians. So enforcement of the resolution and use of military force is very focused on that goal of protecting Libyan civilians. And, again, enabling assistance to reach them and enabling an end the violence against them. 

So, the focus of our military efforts therefore is again, stopping violence against civilians and enabling a no-fly zone. That (inaudible) as the President said yesterday and today, what we are doing right now is using a set of capabilities that the United States has, very robust capabilities to enable the introduction of a more effective no-fly zone. Again, we can make it — we have the capability that can enable our allies and partners to enforce the no-fly zone more effectively and with greater safety as well as taking actions to protect Libyan civilians. So the biggest contribution from the United States in this effort is going to be on the front end. And then enforcement of the no-fly zone over time is going to be by our allies and partners.

With regard to the question of Gadhafi, we also (inaudible) have a range of very aggressive actions (inaudible) both unilaterally and through the UN that includes sanctions which continue, which include accountability measures against him and those around him, that include again, the provision of humanitarian assistance and our continued contacts with the opposition. As we focus on the immediate term goal of stopping violence and protecting civilians, you know, we have a longer term set of tools in place to bring pressure to bear on Gadhafi (inaudible).” 

– Jake Tapper

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