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article imageDefense Secretary Gates: Libya not in 'national vital interest'

By Michael Krebs     Mar 27, 2011 in World
Speaking on ABC's 'This Week' on Sunday, US Defense Secretary Robert Gates admitted that the US-led military intervention into Libya's civil war was not in America's 'national vital interest.'
The controversial US-led strikes against targets across Libya were not considered among America's "vital national interest," US Defense Secretary Robert Gates said on ABC News' "This Week" on Sunday.
Mr. Gates' admission adds fuel to Obama administration critics that the war in Libya is an unnecessary endeavor.
"It was not a vital national interest to the United States, but it was an interest and it was an interest for all of the reasons Secretary Clinton talked about. The engagement of the Arabs, the engagement of the Europeans, the general humanitarian question that was at stake,” Gates said.
The implementation of a no-fly zone against Libya's Colonel Gaddafi has led to significant global concern, including calls for immediate ceasefire from Russia, China, and Brazil, Forbes reported.
“China supports the continued diplomatic efforts of the UN Secretary General’s Special Envoy to Libya, the African Union and the Arab League for peaceful settlement of the current crisis in Libya,” China's Foreign Ministry spokesman Jiang Yu said last week, according to Forbes.
Given the amount of US debt owned by China alone, it is likely in America's vital natural interests to sustain positive relations with China, and the international discord that the Libyan invasion has unleashed will require a significant amount of fence mending with the Chinese government and with other nations.
And while Libya represents a significant oil exporting nation, just 7 percent of its exports in 2006 were delivered to the United States, according to analysis by
But Gates further explained the challenges posed by the civil war in Libya, saying there were multiple revolutions in play across Libya and that there were concerns among US military planners that further instability could ensue.
“So you had a potentially significantly destabilizing event taking place in Libya that put at risk potentially the revolutions in both Tunisia and Egypt,” Gates said on the ABC News program. “And that was another consideration I think we took into account.”
However, Arab world protests have extended far beyond North African nations, and similar concerns could be raised in Syria. But US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, speaking on CBS' "Face The Nation," said that the American military had no intention of intervening in Syrian affairs, Bloomberg reported.
Since both President Obama and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton made campaign promises on the expectation that a sitting president should be expected to receive congressional blessings before embarking on a military adventure, Clinton was asked on ABC's "This Week" why there was no meaningful congressional consultation prior to the LIbyan invasion.
“Well, we would welcome congressional support,” Clinton said, “but I don't think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama was speaking of several years ago.”
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