Key GOP Senators Oppose Idea to Arm Opposition in Libya
February 28th, 2011
08:00 PM ET
12 years ago

Key GOP Senators Oppose Idea to Arm Opposition in Libya

(CNN) - Three key Republican senators said Monday they oppose a proposal by Sen. Joe Lieberman, I-Connecticut, to arm rebels in Libya fighting Moammar Gadhafi. They had mixed thoughts on whether the United States should be involved in imposing a no-fly zone in that country to protect protestors from attacks by Libyan war planes.

“I would not suggest either of those courses for the moment,” said Sen. Richard Lugar of Indiana, the top Republican on the Foreign Relations Committee who indicated U.S. involvement could lead to war.

“Depending upon the method of delivery and what we decide to do we could decide to have a war in Libya to join the war in Afghanistan and Iraq.”

Sen. Susan Collins, R-Maine, a member of the Armed Services Committee, said she would be “leery” of providing arms at this point but said she supports a no-fly zone.

“I do believe our allies may be able to join together with us to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya to help protect the people from Gadhafi,” she said. “Any actions that we take I believe should be in concert with our allies.”

Sen. Lindsay Graham, R-South Carolina, who is also on the Armed Services Committee, credited the diplomatic efforts underway by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and suggested the U.S. work with the United Nations to stiffen and enforce sanctions against Libya.

“Providing arms, I’m not sure that helps us,” Graham said. “I don’t know if you could control right now who would get the arms.”

“What I would suggest is that we really keep implementing U.N. sanctions on the economic side, on the travel side, go after assets,” Graham added. “And a no fly zone would make a lot of sense to me.”

The three senators spoke in a Capitol hallway after a vote on the Senate floor.

Earlier Monday, Senate Republican Leader Mitch McConnell said he would withhold judgment on the idea from Lieberman, who made his comments Sunday on CNN’s “State of the Union.” McConnell said he has asked Sen. John McCain, R-Arizona, the top Republican on the Armed Services Committee, to brief Senate Republicans at their weekly policy lunch in the Capitol Tuesday about his trip to Egypt over the weekend.

Lieberman traveled to Egypt with McCain, and they appeared together on CNN Sunday. McCain supported the idea of a no-fly zone but did not say if he supports providing arms to Libyans fighting Gadhafi.

Filed under: Lindsey Graham • Richard Lugar • Susan Collins
soundoff (46 Responses)
  1. thomas

    They have enough guns !
    Freeze assets ! A no fly zone is a UN scenario !

    February 28, 2011 09:57 pm at 9:57 pm |
  2. Indy

    Liebermans take on anything in the middle east is an opinion that no one should listen to, and Bomb Bomb McCain lost all judgement and respect the day he brought the Palin Plague to the forefront. Lieberman works for another country and cannot be trusted and starting another war is just another way Republicans think they can get out of creating jobs like they promised to get back in the house.

    February 28, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  3. Shawn

    What is it with Mccain and Lieberman? We cant even afford these other two wars we are fighting, and they are ready to get neck deep in Libya? These guys just dont get it.

    February 28, 2011 10:11 pm at 10:11 pm |
  4. MN Tom

    UN out of USA, USA out of Lybia.

    February 28, 2011 10:12 pm at 10:12 pm |
  5. GOP = Greed Over People

    P.S. Props to CNN for the heads up on the Sojourner's WWJC bracelet.

    Mine is in the mail.

    I hope and suggest other Christians avail themselves of the bracelets to counter the "christian" cons and their heresy.

    787 billion tax cut for the rich and cut 61 billion from WIC and other help for the least among us?


    Buy and wear a bracelet that says What Would Jesus Cut?

    February 28, 2011 10:14 pm at 10:14 pm |
  6. nsane1

    Why are Republicans so flakey? Makeup your mind already. You criticize the late response by Obama and wished he had done something sooner and now You have a problem with siding with the rebels?

    February 28, 2011 10:17 pm at 10:17 pm |
  7. Aaron

    Apparently, the opposition has not agreed to give U.S. companies first rights on the oil. If it had, Congress would declared war by now, and U.S. troops would be ready to land. Unfortunately, we've been there, done that with Iraq already, but don't put it past these oligarphic puppets to do it all over again.

    February 28, 2011 10:39 pm at 10:39 pm |
  8. ATL Guy

    Although the Republicans don't know what to do, they do agree that whatever Obama is doing is bad for America and too slow and indecisive.

    February 28, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  9. Terry

    Joe is a real war monger isn't he!!!!!

    February 28, 2011 10:44 pm at 10:44 pm |
  10. Steve Lyons

    Please let us send Obama to Libya with a one way ticket so he can harm that nation and stop pushing the US towards a second c i v i l war.

    February 28, 2011 10:53 pm at 10:53 pm |
  11. S.B. Stein E.B. NJ

    I agree that we should not be arming these groups in Libya. Once their current leadership is out and new government can be looked at, then we can decide if we are to sell them weapons.

    February 28, 2011 11:22 pm at 11:22 pm |
  12. majikbunny

    We should also arm insurgents in India and Sweden according to the Republicans.

    February 28, 2011 11:30 pm at 11:30 pm |
  13. J.V.Hodgson

    At last some common sense prevails.The time has come for America and Americans to realise just like the brits had to that Gunboat diplomacy or in the US case the threat or actual execution of military intervention on whatever pretext in another sovreign nations affairs is very, very rarely justified or brings the result liked by the invader.
    I must also add I'm really fed up with the likes of Lieberman and McCain jumping in to criticise the Obama administrations handling of the Libya situation,even no fly zones because the British and German SAS and Airforces respectively were still rescuing thier nations people from outlying areas who worked in the Oil fields.
    The kind of pre-emptive ideas of the above two and liberman sending arms risked leading to another embassy hostage crisis or other similar catastrophe. Do they also realise that tens of thousands of non Libyans of mutiple nationalities are still trying to get out and cross borders to flee from a civil war.
    A no fly zone might be realistically imposed thru the UN and NATO. For the US to do it alone is not good policy unless you are among many ( too many) Republicans who think declaring war solves all diplomatic or revolutionary situations anywhere in the world.

    March 1, 2011 12:08 am at 12:08 am |
  14. oneula

    Is Lieberman crazy? Keep US arms and forces out of Libya! The US has already bankrpted itself fighting unwinable wars in Afghanistan and Iraq we certainly have no need to arm rebels in Libya who could then sell or give the arms to anyone, or start using them against the UN.

    March 1, 2011 12:37 am at 12:37 am |
  15. BeverlyNC

    McCain is the one making awful decisions and Lieberman with him. McCain is the one who put the curse of Palin on our nation. I seriously question his judgment on anything after choosing Palin. Karl Rove even does nasty impressions of her making fun of her stupidity. Why is it Republicans always want a military solution to everything? I love Secretary Gates comments to the West Point cadets that any Sec of Defense who suggests military action in southeast Asia or the Mideast to the President should have his head examined. In the case of Rumsfeld, Cheney and Bush- they should be in jail for intentionally starting a fraudulent war in Iraq and breaking international war crimes law on torture. The GOP proposed budget has been criticized by multiple Republican economists as killing up to 1.1M jobs and destroying our economic recovery and Republicans acknowledge they know that but still want to ram it through. Seems the GOP needs to have their collective heads examined on many issues. They are not credible leaders.

    March 1, 2011 02:35 am at 2:35 am |
  16. CraigM

    Wouldn't you know that Lindsey Graham would be involved in appeasement........sounds like shade of Czechoslavakia in the late 1930"s and Hungary in the 1950's. Way to go folks.........I would think that we have enough intelligence to know who to funnel assistance to in Libya. To simply support the U.N. is unreal.....this is the most incompetent organization on the face of the Earth next to the U.s. government!!

    March 1, 2011 05:33 am at 5:33 am |
  17. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    We will not miss crazy Joe! If it were up to him, our entire national budget would be spent on war with arab countries.

    March 1, 2011 06:52 am at 6:52 am |
  18. Name king

    Obama better think and act carefully in this situation, because I think the GOP is pushing him to act, then blaming him if it doesn't work out. They are a very shifty bunch. My take is to send in CIA agents to formulate a viable leadership movement not like the Castro disaster and many other disappointment CIA fumble in the past, they need to do this that if things take a turn for the worst no one can point their fingers at America, in the persuite of democracy.

    March 1, 2011 07:24 am at 7:24 am |
  19. chris

    Finally, something I can agree on coming from a GOPer!!! That would be a very dumb thing to do. I mean have we not learned that arming revolutionaries sometimes backfires?

    March 1, 2011 07:38 am at 7:38 am |
  20. Mike

    I say we supply arms and training to the rebels! We did that for the Mujahadeen in Afganistan in the 80s, look how well that turned out! We need a new Osama bin Laden, and I think someone in Libya is just itching to step up and fill that role. Pretty much "the enemy of my enemy is my friend" works for about 10 years, then they become our enemy. No thanks, my tax dollars should go to schools, not another vietnam (besides our 21st century vietnam, Afganistan)

    March 1, 2011 08:15 am at 8:15 am |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    Wow – three GOP leaders that's NOT following the advice of their leader Sarah Palin, who knows BEST about every issue that concerns the USA!!!!!

    It's OBVIOUS we should not provide ARMS and it's obviously difficult to impose a "no-fly" zone – The guns will end up in the WRONG hands and the same guns and;or bombs will end up blowing up "friendly" aircraft!!! These GOP leaders are smarter than a fifth grader along with mostly every other American!!!

    March 1, 2011 08:24 am at 8:24 am |
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