Deputy Secretary Steinberg Testifies on "Libya: Defining U.S. National Security Interests"

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 31, 2011

Deputy Secretary of State James B. Steinberg testified before the House Foreign Affairs Committee on "Libya: Defining U.S. National Security Interests," on March 31, 2011. Deputy Secretary Steinberg said:

"In his speech on Monday night, President Obama laid out our goals and our strategy in Libya and the wider Middle East. On Tuesday, Secretary Clinton met with our allies and partners in London, as well as with representatives of the Libyan Transitional National Council, and yesterday she and Secretary Gates briefed members of the both the House and Senate. I am pleased to be here to underline their comments and to continue the valuable and important exchange between the Administration and the Congress that has been ongoing since shortly after Colonel Qadhafi's regime began to resort to violence against its own people.

"Let me begin by reviewing why we are a part of this broad international effort. As the President said, 'the United States has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act.'

"This crisis began when the Libyan people took to the streets in peaceful protest to demand their universal human rights. Colonel Qadhafi's security forces responded with extreme violence. Military jets and helicopter gunships attacked people who had no means to defend themselves against assaults from the air. There were reports of government agents raiding homes and even hospitals to round up or kill wounded protestors, of indiscriminate killings, arbitrary arrests, and torture as Qadhafi's forces began a full-scale assault on cities that were standing up against his dictatorial rule.

"The UN Security Council responded by unanimously approving Resolution 1970 on February 26, which demands an end to the violence and refers the situation to the International Criminal Court while imposing a travel ban and assets freeze on the family of Muammar Al-Qadhafi, and certain Government officials. Rather than respond to the international community's demand for an end to the violence, Qadhafi's forces continued their brutal assault.

"With this imminent threat bearing down on them, the people of Libya appealed to the world for help. The GCC and the Arab League called for the establishment of a No-Fly Zone. Acting with partners in NATO, the Arab World and the African members of the Security Council, we passed Resolution 1973 on March 17. It demanded an immediate ceasefire in Libya, including an end to the current attacks against civilians, which it said might constitute 'crimes against humanity,' imposed a ban on all flights in the country's airspace, authorized the use of all necessary measures to protect civilians, and tightened sanctions on the Qadhafi regime and entities it owns or controls, including the National Oil Corporation and its subsidiaries. As his troops pushed toward Benghazi, a city of nearly 700,000 people, Qadhafi again defied the international community, declaring, 'We will have no mercy and no pity.' Based on his decades-long history of brutality, we had little choice but to take him at his word. Stopping a potential humanitarian disaster of massive proportions became a question of hours, not days.

"And so we acted decisively to prevent a potential massacre. We established a no-fly zone, stopped Qadhafi's army from their advance on Benghazi, expanded the coalition, responded to the humanitarian crisis in Libya and in its neighboring countries, and now have transferred command of the military effort to NATO."

He continued: "We became involved in this effort because America has an important strategic interest in achieving this objective. A massacre could drive tens of thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful--yet fragile--transitions in Egypt and Tunisia. It would undercut democratic aspirations across the region and embolden repressive leaders to believe that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. It would undermine the credibility of the United Nations Security Council and its ability to uphold global peace and security. That is why this administration concluded that failure to act in Libya would have carried too great a price for America and why we will remain vigilant and focused on the mission at hand.

"I would like to focus on three non-military tracks that are crucial to the President's strategy: delivering desperately needed humanitarian assistance; pressuring and isolating the Qadhafi regime through robust sanctions and other measures; and supporting the Libyan people as they work to achieve their legitimate democratic aspirations. ...Now we are moving forward on all three of these tracks with a growing coalition of allies and partners. In London, the international community agreed to establish a Contact Group that will coordinate activity and provide broad political guidance on the full range of efforts under Resolutions 1970 and 1973. We are pleased that Qatar will host the first meeting.

"So there is considerable progress to report. But we are under no illusions about the dangers and challenges that remain. Qadhafi is unlikely to give up power quickly or easily. The regime still has substantial military capacity and continues offensive operations in Misrata and elsewhere.

"This is a critical moment--for Libya, the international community and the United States. We are eager to continue our close consultations with you about the way forward and hope to have your support."

You can read Deputy Secretary Steinberg's complete remarks here.



April 4, 2011

W.W. writes:

A show like this must be produce

Israeli prime minister is right

" netanyahu"

Islam must be engaged Just to avoid tribal people blow their selves up pulling a string in churces around the world in the name of a tribal God...War on Islam

New Mexico, USA
April 1, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ James Steinburg, Dep Sec. of State,

Re: A brief comparitive analysis between getting tyrants to leave power of their own volition, tooth extractions, and the gestation period of rabbits.

Dear Mr. Steinburg,

Thanks for such a strait forward in depth overview on where things stand in our policy currently on Lybia.

I will spare you the details of my recent visit to the dentist, save to conclude a couple things, one that for every five minutes he is doing his job is another day I'm hitting the motrin real hard in recovery, and that as we all know, the problem with lidocain is you can never tell if you're drooling or not when leaving the dentist's chair.

If one were to think of dictatorships like a bad tooth, causing one misery and discomfort, the risk of long term stress on the immune system and the risk of abcess and one becoming septic , in an ICU ward or worse...tyrants have about the same general effect on people in creating social malaise.

Bad teeth are nothing to mess with, nor will one's misery be relieved until you get rid of what ails you with the help of a professional.

And so the professionals have done all the right things to treat the symptoms, folks got a script from the UNSC for pennicillin to attack the infection and it's being beaten back at this point.

Got one for a strong pain reliever as well in the form of humanitarian aid.

Got a political strategy to deal with the problem as it's self evident that that bad tooth has got to go, it's broke in half down to the gumline and beyond saving.

And no, the world does not get a discount on extracting a half a tooth. I know. I asked.

I like my dentist's bedside manner, we we're going for the Guiness book record for speed extractions, but it wasn't to be.

Came close to it the last time but it didn't come out clean this time and he had these pesky root tips to dig out, and that took time.

Kind of reminded me of Iraq.

He told me something that kind of suprised me, in that he thought I had an incredible tolerance for pain, having lived with that in my mouth for as long as I had. And offered hope in saying I was a good candidate for implants to replace them eventually after a healing period.

Like my government, I'm trying not to make it a habit to get teeth removed, but folks gotta do what folks gotta do, or suffer the concequences of failing to.

So, rather than see the Lybian people try to use a sring tied to a doorknob with no anathetics to extract Ghaddafi, is there a dentist in NATO's house who is willing to make a house call, and do that surgery on the spot?

Jim, just between you and me I appreciate the speed at which the international community took action.

Got it down to 31 days, OK!

I'm pleased to inform you'all that folks have done this amazing diplomatic feat within the gestation period of a rabbit, which is 28-31 days.

When my grandad was putting his team together
to help build the first a-bombs @ Los Alamos to end a war, he sent this in '43;

To: Sidney Newberger
From: ERJ----

Subj: Security Clearances

I have recently learned that the average time for security clearances on a large number of cases was 63 days. This is the gestation period for a dog. Do you suppose that you might get it down to a rabbit?

E.R. J----


I thought perhaps a little historical perspective might add insight into what may be accomplished with a "can do" attitude.

I know you'll take your's along with you to Syracuse.

Best regards,


South Korea
April 3, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

We must help lybia`s militia.

And Japan`s Emperor is...Japan wait help

John P.
April 3, 2011

John P. in Greece writes:

@ Eric in New Mexico

Do you imply that the operation name should be changed from “Odyssey” to “Iliad”?

Instead of 10 years – 31 days?

I think that only the Pentagon can answer this. Is it militarily applicable?

Tough questions for a simple civilian like me…

South Korea
April 4, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:


Although there are many discussions and theories, people, run by the U.S. administration, the real news reported in the results of that policy, believing that only the result, I have a very vulgar, ordinary citizens of foreign countries are trying to terminate. We are watching the war in Libya in the passing of U.S. policy, looking for protesters demanding democracy in other countries too,

Libya to look at the results, as defined dagaseoryeo government policy is to do? Or, in the meantime, following the administration issued an invisible force something, we'll see I guess.

In reality, politics is full of angels do not think people want to act. This article raised, and in the streets, for their own needs, cruel people to advance and appreciate how difficult it is to convince them you'll know whether you think.


Sometimes a cold wind blowing on a hot summer day, the definition of the policy need to show what I think.

Of course, he would sacrifice will occur. Occurred. Victims of the moment, but, why should we believe that Libya is involved in the thinking set them.

To prevent a lot of sacrifice, democracy and capitalism to run, to realize our ideal goal,

Freedom for the Libyan people, and create new markets for us, the weary, we will make a way out deulegedo new, we must think a realistic goal.

Libya today and tomorrow to show the direction of a diplomatic standards would be an alert is expected.

end, my foolish opinion.

New Mexico, USA
April 4, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ John in Greece,

31 days was stated as the time it took to debate everything in the UN , pass resolutions, and hit the "go" button on the "no fly zone"...which has a lot more than your average run of the mill hands-on dictatorial free-zone "shock and awe" going on...folks are trying to prevent a bloodbath , and finess a political outcome.

Folks want to compare how long it all took in the Balkens? OK, what's the gestation period of a blue whale? 2.5 years?

A Galapagos tortice maybe?

Mmmm, and they got it down to a rabbit...

Smells like progress to me,

I do think granddad would be proud of folks.



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