U.S. Seesaws on Arming Libyan Rebelshttp://blogs.wsj.com/washwire/
Can the U.S. arm the Libyan rebel forces if it wanted to?
On Monday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney said arming the rebels is “one of the range of options that is being considered.”
But State Department spokesman P.J. Crowley said the following day that the UN Security Council resolution establishes an arms embargo against Libya. “As a practical matter, you know, as of this moment, we could not arm anyone within Libya today,” Mr. Crowley said.
Mr. Crowley’s comments were criticized by Sen. John McCain (R.,Ariz) and Sen. Joe Lieberman (I.,Conn.), who said the U.N. resolution should applying to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s government, not rebel groups working to unseat him.
“We believe this language should be construed narrowly in order to hold open the possibility of providing military aid to the opposition,” the senators said in a joint statement.
Administration officials said there is no need to reinterpret the UN resolution, since it establishes a sanctions committee that can issue waivers, including to arm rebel groups. Such a waiver, officials said, would only be sought after an international consensus develops on the best way to aid the Libyan opposition.
Asked Wednesday about the senators’ statement, Mr. Carney stuck to his guns, arguing that providing arms to rebels is still an option.
“We believe that the arms embargo contains within it the flexibility to allow for a decision to arm the opposition, if that decision were made,” he said.