Category Archives: International Relations

Lugar Concerned about Lingering Wars

Senator Richard Lugar (R-IN) “warned on Sunday that the U.S. is starting a treacherous descent down a slippery slope of international diplomacy by getting involved in Libya,” POLITICO reports.

It doesn’t make sense, he said, for the U.S. to help Libyan civilians when the citizens of countries like Bahrain, Yemen and Syria are also being oppressed.

“We had better get this straight from the beginning,” he said on CBS’s “Face the Nation,” “or there’s going to be a situation where war lingers on, country after country, situation after situation, all of them on a humane basis, saving people.”

Lugar, the ranking Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee who has helped broker key nuclear weapons reductions with former Soviet Union countries, is one of the few Republicans who’s spoken against using force in Libya. He said Sunday the success of the airstrikes against Moammar Qadhafi’s air defenses hasn’t convinced him that getting involved there is a good idea.

Lugar warned that the U.S. is investing huge sums of money in a foreign endeavor at a time when the domestic economy is still struggling.”It’s a strange time,” he said. “Almost all of our congressional days are spent on budget deficits, outrageous problems. Yet, at the same time, all of this passes, which is a very expensive operation.”

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Senators Want Enterprise Funds for Egypt, Tunisia

Senior “US senators were working Thursday to create special ‘enterprise funds’ to help Egypt and Tunisia’s economies recover from revolutionary turmoil and showcase Washington’s goodwill,” the AFP reports.

Senators John Kerry, Joe Lieberman and John McCain said at a hastily called press conference that they were modeling their legislation on a hugely successful effort to help former communist countries in Europe after the Berlin Wall fell.

"We do this with the belief — shared by the administration — the belief that the United States has an historic opportunity to help these two countries, to transform the Arab awakening that has swept across their lands and transform it into a lasting rebirth that brings prosperity and democracy," said Kerry.

The Egyptian-American Enterprise Fund and the Tunisian-American Enterprise Fund “would steer investment capital to existing or start-up businesses in both countries, which have seen economically vital tourism monies dry up.”

Kerry, a Democrat who chairs the Senate Foreign Relations Committee, said the Egyptian fund would initially have $50 million to $60 million and its Tunisian equivalent would get $10 million to $20 million with the goal of drawing in private sector capital.

McCain/Lieberman comments:

McCain, the top Republican on the Senate Armed Services Committee, said the proposal would help US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton bring a tangible aid offer and a message that "help is on the way" during her trip to the region next week.


"We’re really seizing the moment," said Lieberman, an independent who chairs the Senate Homeland Security Committee. He cautioned that he was "not at all naive about the fact that there’s tough times ahead" for Egypt and Tunisia.

The funds would be “run by seven-member boards — four from the United States, three from the recipient nations — named by President Barack Obama, said McCain.”

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Kerry Seeks Financial Aid for Democracy Efforts

A leading “US senator called Wednesday for providing financial aid in support of democracy and economic transformation in Arab countries undergoing popular demands for change,” the AFP reports.

"Events this powerful demand a powerful response," said Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Committee on Foreign Relations.

"Our commitment now to the ordinary people who are risking their lives to win human rights and democracy will be remembered for generations in the Arab world," the Democratic senator told the committee.

"We have to get this moment right," Kerry said as US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton prepared to testify at a time when Republicans are demanding massive cuts in the US foreign aid budget.

"We are working here in the Senate with colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create a package of longer-term financial assistance," he added, acknowledging some might oppose the call.

Kerry added that this effort is “not about sending troops and tanks to remake a region in our image. It is about sending economists and election experts and humanitarian aid to help a region remake itself.”

He is “convinced a significant financial commitment by the United States to assist in this monumental and uplifting transformation is key to its long-term outcome and our relationship to it.”

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Senate Adopts Libya Resolution

Senators have adopted a resolution (S. Res. 85) dealing with the situation in Libya by unanimous consent. According to a press release from the office of Senator Robert Menendez (D-NJ), it condemns “the recent brutality and aggression by Muammar Qadhafi in Libya” and calls “for new steps against his regime.”

Key components noted in the release:

  • applauds the courage of the Libyan people in standing up against the brutal dictatorship of Muammar Gadhafi and for demanding democratic reforms, transparent governance, and respect for basic human and civil rights;
  • strongly condemns the gross and systematic violations of human rights in Libya, including violent attacks on protesters demanding democratic reforms;
  • calls on Muammar Gadhafi to desist from further violence,  recognize the Libyan people’s demand for democratic change, resign his position and permit a peaceful transition to democracy governed by respect for human and civil rights and the right of the people to choose their government in free and fair elections;
  • welcomes the  unanimous vote of the United Nations Security Council on resolution 1970 referring the situation  in Libya to the International Criminal Court; imposing an arms embargo on the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya; freezing the assets of Gadhafi and family members; and banning international travel by Gadhafi, members of his family, and senior advisors;
  • urges the United Nations Security Council to take such further action as may be necessary to protect civilians in Libya from attack, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory;
  • welcomes the attendance of Secretary of State Clinton at the United Nations Human Rights Council meeting in Geneva and 1) urges the Council’s assumption of a country mandate for Libya that employs a Special Rapporteur on the human rights situation in Libya and 2) urges the U.S. Ambassador to the United Nations to advocate for improving United Nations Human Rights Council membership criteria at the next United Nations General Assembly in New York City to exclude gross and systematic violators of human rights.
  • Welcomes the outreach that has begun by the United States government to Libyan opposition figures and supports an orderly, irreversible and transition to a legitimate democratic government in Libya.

Full text linked here.

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Some Senate Republicans Cool to Idea of Military Aid in Libya

Some Senate Republicans, less than “enthused by saber-rattling from Joe Lieberman (I-CT) and John McCain (R-AZ) on Libya, warned on Monday that sending military aid to anti-Qadaffi rebels could draw the US into all-out war,” Talking Points Memo reports.

"Dependent 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. Dick Lugar (R-IN) told reporters, saying he opposed arming the Libyan resistance or imposing a no-fly zone. "You know, people need to be very thoughtful about entering wars without a declaration and without much more congressional scrutiny of what’s involved."

Lindsey Graham (R-SC) told reporters that a no-fly zone as part of a multinational effort could be effective, but warned that talk of arms shipments was very premature.

"I’m not sure who’s who yet," he said of the nascent movement to overthrow Muammar Qadaffi. "Anything we can do to expedite his departure and get him off the world stage would be good, but you have to think these things through. One thing I’ve learned from Iraq and Afghanistan, you have to think these things through."

CNN has similar comments from Senator Susan Collins (R-ME), a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee:

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.”

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