The United States will deploy additional amphibious ships to the Mediterranean, the military said on Friday, as part of the Obama administration’s plans for responding to ongoing violence in Libya.
The USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group will deploy on March 23 “ahead of its original schedule in order to relieve units from the USS Kearsarge (Amphibious Ready Group) currently positioned in the Mediterranean Sea,” it said in a statement.
Moammar Gadhafi took advantage of international indecision to attack the heart of the 5-week-old uprising on Saturday, sending troops, artillery and warplanes to swarm the first city seized by the rebels. Crashing shells shook buildings, and the sounds of battle drew closer to Benghazi’s center.
“Where is France, where is NATO?” cried a 50-year-old woman in Benghazi. “It’s too late.”
Leaders from the Arab world, the United States and other Western powers are holding urgent talks in Paris over possible military action, and France’s ambassador to the United Nations, Gerard Araud, told BBC Newsnight that he expected military action to begin within hours of the meeting. Gadafhi warned international forces: “You will regret it if you dare to intervene in our country.”
Euros puzzled by Obama. Really?
Inside the foreign ministers’ meeting, a loud and contentious debate erupted about whether to move forward with stronger action to halt Col. Muammar al-Qaddafi’s campaign against the Libyan rebels and the violence being perpetrated against civilians. Britain and France argued for immediate action while Germany and Russia opposed such a move, according to two European diplomats who were briefed on the meeting.
(Hillary) Clinton stayed out of the fray, repeating the administration’s position that all options are on the table but not specifically endorsing any particular step. She also did not voice support for stronger action in the near term, such as a no-fly zone or military aid to the rebels, both diplomats said.
“The way the U.S. acted was to let the Germans and the Russians block everything, which announced for us an alignment with the Germans as far as we are concerned,” one of the diplomats told The Cable.
Clinton’s unwillingness to commit the United States to a specific position led many in the room to wonder exactly where the administration stood on the situation in Libya.
“Frankly we are just completely puzzled,” the diplomat said. “We are wondering if this is a priority for the United States.”
U.S. ambassador to NATO, Ivo Daalder:
“[I]t’s important to understand that no-fly zones…really have a limited effect against the helicopters or the kind of ground operations that we’ve seen, which is why a no-fly zone, even if it were to be established, isn’t really going to impact what is happening there today,” Daalder said. “And the kinds of capabilities that are being used to attack the rebel forces and, indeed, the population will be largely unaffected by a no-fly zone. ”
A No-Fly Zone would be impractical given the fact that it’s largely a ground war, with little flying going on.
In any case, until we get through with Iraq (almost there) and Afghanistan, do we really want to open up a third war front? Let the rest of NATO handle this one. It’ll give them something useful to do, for a change.
- Gadhafi anti-aircraft guns a danger for NATO (foxnews.com)
- Allied Warplanes, Ships Move Into Place to Hit Qaddafi’s Forces (businessweek.com)