Factsheets

Who Supported Intervening in Libya? NATO Allies, Regional Partners, Democrats, and Republicans.

Now that we’re in the thick of political season, Republicans haven’t hesitated to attack Hillary Clinton over the United States’ intervention in Libya during her tenure as Secretary of State. But the reality is that in 2011, in addition to calls for action from our closest NATO allies and our partners in the region, there was broad support from leaders at home for the Administration’s effort to do more to protect the Libyan people. And it was hardly just from Democrats. Take a look at the breadth of support for intervention:

NATO Allies and Regional Partners were ramping up their efforts to defend the Libyan people:

Feb. 23, 2011FranceThe Guardian: “Nicolas Sarkozy is leading the calls for a NATO-imposed no-fly zone to be enforced over Libya to ‘prevent the use of that country’s warplanes against [its] population.’ Sarkozy, the current president of the G8 and G20 economic forums, has also called for the European Union to impose sanctions against Libya and suggested that the assets of the family of the Libyan leader, Muammar Gaddafi, should be frozen.”

Feb. 27, 2011ItalyAssociated Press: “Italy has effectively suspended a treaty with Libya that includes a nonaggression clause, amid turmoil in the North African nation, the foreign minister said Sunday. The suspension removes a possible obstacle to Rome taking part in any peacekeeping operations in its former colony, or allowing the use of its military bases.”

Feb 28, 2011BritainPM David Cameron: We must not tolerate this regime using military force against its own people. In that context I have asked the Ministry of Defence and the Chief of the Defence Staff to work with our allies on plans for a military no-fly zone. Mr Speaker, it is clear that this is an illegitimate regime that has lost the consent of its people. My message to Colonel Qadhafi is simple: Go now.”

March 10, 2011Libyan RebelsCNN: The head of the interim government in eastern Libya pleaded Wednesday for the international community to move quickly to impose a no-fly zone over Libya, declaring that any delay would result in more casualties. ‘It has to be immediate action,’ Mustafa Abdul-Jalil told CNN in an exclusive interview in this eastern opposition stronghold. ‘The longer the situation carries on, the more blood is shed. That’s the message that we want to send to the international community. They have to live up to their responsibility with regards to this.’”

March 12, 2011Arab StatesNew York Times: “The Arab League asked the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to impose a no-flight zone over Libya in hopes of halting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s attacks on his own people, providing the rebels a tincture of hope even as they were driven back from a long stretch of road and towns they had captured in the three-week war. The extraordinary move by the 22-nation bloc — an extremely rare invitation for Western military forces on Arab territory — increases the pressure on the Obama administration…”

Key Democrats were supporting US action to prevent the impending humanitarian catastrophe in Libya:

March 11, 2011John Kerry: “Perhaps the mere threat of a no-fly zone will keep Gaddafi’s pilots from using their helicopters and fighter jets to kill their own people. If it does not, we should be crystal-clear that we will lead the free world to avoid the senseless slaughter of any more Libyan citizens by a mad man bent on maintaining power. We should also make clear that the United States - just as we did in Bosnia and Kosovo - is taking a stand against a thug who is killing Muslims.”

March 23, 2011Nancy Pelosi: “Acting upon the United Nations Security Council’s resolution to use ‘all measures necessary’ to protect the Libyan people and the Arab League’s call for a no-fly-zone, the United States joined the international community in preventing an imminent humanitarian crisis in Libya. Actions taken by the international community have already prevented Qaddafi from implementing his threat to ‘show no mercy’ to his own people, including those living in the city of Benghazi.”

March 28, 2011Barbara Boxer: President Obama reminded the country tonight of why it was critical for the international community to take action to prevent the mass slaughter of innocent men, women and children by Moammar Gaddafi’s forces. I am pleased that NATO is now assuming control of the mission, and it is important that partners in the Arab League, including Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, continue to play an active role in enforcing the no-fly zone and ensuring the protection of the Libyan people.

And top Republicans, too, were making calls for bold American leadership in this international crisis:

Feb. 22, 2011John McCain and Joe Lieberman: “The horrific situation in Libya demands more than just public condemnation; it requires strong international action. … Some Libyan diplomats have bravely called for a no-fly zone to stop the Qaddafi regime’s use of airpower to attack Libyan civilians.  We support this course of action.”

Feb. 24, 2011Marco Rubio: “We should immediately engage willing partners to limit the regime’s ability to wage war against its own citizens.  These measures could include (but are not limited to) pressing bordering nations to stop the flow of mercenaries into Libya, finding ways to restore severed communications, imposing a no-fly zone to protect civilians against aircraft attacks, and mobilizing a humanitarian relief effort.”

Feb. 24, 2011Mike Huckabee: “I think I’d make it very clear that the United States is not going to stand by and watch a country slaughter its own people in cold blood, that there is a sense in which there’s a virtual genocide going on. … I think a no-fly zone would be absolute – yeah a no fly zone very important because that way you keep him from flying mercenaries in, maybe even a naval armada somewhere off the 3 mile international boundaries, just as a presence, and even to say we stand ready to do what is necessary to make sure there’s not an act of genocide against those people.”

Feb. 28, 2011Lindsay Graham: “What I would suggest is that we really keep implementing U.N. sanctions on the economic side, on the travel side, go after assets. And a no fly zone would make a lot of sense to me.”

Feb. 28, 2011Susan Collins: “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.”

March 1, 2011By unanimous consent, the Senate adopts a resolution urging the UN Security council to take “further action to protect civilians in Libya from attack, including the possible imposition of a no-fly zone over Libyan territory.”

March 7, 2011Newt Gingrich: “Exercise a no-fly zone this evening, communicate to the Libyan military that Gadhafi was gone … All we have to say is that we think that slaughtering your own citizens is unacceptable and that we’re intervening. And we don’t have to send troops. All we have to do is suppress his air force…”

March 13, 2011John McCain: “First, the president [Barack Obama] should recognize Libya’s transitional national council, which is based in Benghazi but representative of communities across the country, as the sole legitimate governing authority of Libya, just as France has done.  Second, the president should take immediate steps to implement a no-fly zone in Libya with international support.”

March 31, 2011Marco Rubio, to Mitch McConnell and Harry Reid: “I am writing to seek your support for bringing a bi-partisan resolution to the Senate floor authorizing the President’s decision to participate in allied military action in Libya. Furthermore, this resolution should also state that removing Muammar Qaddafi from power is in our national interest and therefore should authorize the President to accomplish this goal. To that end, the resolution should urge the President to immediately recognize the Interim Transitional National Council as the legitimate government in Libya.’”