Should The U.S. Arm Libyan Rebels?
Both President Barack Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton have said that no decision has been made yet.
“I’m not ruling it out, but I’m also not ruling it in,” Obama told NBC News. “We’re still making an assessment partly about what Qaddafi’s forces are going to be doing. Keep in mind, we’ve been at this now for nine days.”
Among the chief concerns among opponents of arming are:
- Giving the Libyan rebels arms would entangle the U.S. more deeply in Libya's civil war.
- Rebels would need training in the weapons.
- Some rebels may have ties to Al Qaeda.
To address the concern about Al Qaeda ties, the U.S. has called out for more intelligence on the rebels.
An article in the New York Times discusses what's at stake for the U.S.:
The question of whether to arm the rebels underscores the difficult choices the United States faces as it tries to move from being the leader of the military operation to a member of a NATO-led coalition, with no clear political endgame. It also carries echoes of previous American efforts to arm rebels, in Angola, Nicaragua, Afghanistan and elsewhere, many of which backfired. The United States has a deep, often unsuccessful, history of arming insurgencies.
Mr. Obama pledged on Monday that he would not commit American ground troops to Libya and said that the job of transforming the country into a democracy was primarily for the Libyan people and the international community. But he promised that the United States would help the rebels in this struggle.
Clinton has said that the U.S. does have the right to arm the Libyan rebels under the United Nations Security Council's resolution that authorized military intervention to protect civilians.
The U.S. is not alone in its debate.
British Prime Minister David Cameron has said the UK has not ruled out supplying arms to the resistance.