Colorado delegates split along party lines over Libya

President Obama’s speech Monday night came 10 days late and left many questions unanswered, U.S. Rep. Scott Tipton, R-Colo., said.

Obama, however, “was smart, he was strategic” in timing his committing of American air power to support a United Nations resolution, U.S. Sen. Mark Udall, C-Colo., said.

Udall, a member of the Senate Intelligence and Armed Services committees, said Obama was confronted by a “fast-moving situation” and that Obama had done his duty by consulting with congressional representatives.

Udall said he concurred with the president’s decision to act quickly.

Udall, however, said he remained concerned about the ability to limit American involvement.

Tipton said he was unconvinced that American interests were threatened in Libya, though he had no sympathy for the now-threatened Libyan strongman, Moammar Gadhafi.

“We all certainly have empathy when we see a government turn guns on its own people, but there is a variety of places in the world where that’s happening,” Tipton said. “The president didn’t fully answer the question of ‘Why here, why now?’ “

Another question left begging was who would take over in Libya if Gadhafi is removed from power, Tipton said.

Obama had said he wouldn’t commit American resources unless there was an imminent threat to the nation, Tipton said, noting that Defense Secretary Robert Gates had said there was no imminent threat, prompting Tipton to ask, “Which Obama are we dealing with?”

U.S. Sen. Michael Bennet, D-Colo., said the mission should be limited to preventing the deaths of innocent civilians.

“As the United States begins to scale back its role in the conflict, a broad, NATO-based coalition must now assume control of the mission,” Bennet said. “Moving forward, the responsibility of securing a no-fly zone and protecting innocent civilians must be shared by a broad coalition of allies, including Arab partners.”

From his vantage point on two oversight committees, Udall said he was supportive of American involvement to establish a “level playing field and make this a fair fight” in Libya, but said he remained concerned about keeping American involvement limited to a supportive role through NATO.

The United States provides 22 percent of the funding for NATO, and the organization’s supreme allied command is required to be headed by an American.

Udall said he would demand full disclosure to prevent direct American involvement in Libya via NATO, as well as “do all I can to pay for this out of our existing budgets.”

Libya also should not distract the nation from its attention to Iraq and Afghanistan, Udall said.

American involvement in Libya will likely turn out to be the prototype for confrontations in the 21st century, Udall said.


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