Coalition Of Clinton, Rice And Power Swayed Decision To Bomb Libya

Even if this was the right decision (I suspect it wasn't, but we won't know for a while), why did the administration start bombing Libya without approval from Congress? I could have sworn Candidate Obama had a problem with that kind of use of executive power. Why, you'd think since this the first day's bombing cost $62 million, they'd want to get approval from the Republicans aka Tea Party!

UPDATE: Now the Arab League is criticizing the airstrikes, saying they wanted protection for civilians.

Washington (CNN) -- President Barack Obama's decision to undertake military action in Libya to enforce a no-fly zone was the product of an administration debate with unlikely bedfellows.

Initially, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton was skeptical of the U.S. joining a military coalition. But senior U.S. officials said advances last weekend made by forces loyal to Gadhafi in retaking rebel strongholds in the east, which opened up the possibility of thousands more being killed, convinced her action was necessary.

Additionally, a statement by the Arab League calling for the United Nations to enforce a no-fly zone, Clinton told reporters Saturday, "changed the diplomatic landscape."

As Britain and France pushed for a quick U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing a no-fly zone, officials said Clinton teamed up with Susan Rice, U.S. ambassador to the United Nations, in creating the conditions for a resolution with the broadest possible authority and the largest international support.

Clinton made the case that U.S. support for a no-fly zone was conditioned on Arab participation and leadership. In Paris Clinton met with her counterparts in town for a meeting of the Group of 8 foreign ministers and with Abdullah bin Zayed, the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates. Even as she criticized the UAE for its recent decision to send forces to quell a rebellion in Bahrain, Clinton pressed him to send planes to Libya.

As Clinton traveled to Cairo and Tunisia seeking Arab buy-in for the resolution, officials said Rice built support in New York for the resolution. Samantha Power, an adviser to Obama on the National Security Council and a human rights activist, was also urging the president to intervene.

Clinton's alliance with Rice and Power in pushing for intervention put her at odds with Defense Secretary Robert Gates, who had publicly argued against a no-fly zone. Sources said Vice President Joe Biden was also more cautious, arguing for the smallest possible U.S. involvement in any military action.


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