USA denies it's at war in Libya


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24-03-2011 08:03 AM


ABC Canberra 666

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ABC Canberra 666


24-03-2011 08:03 AM



24-03-2011 08:44 AM

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2011-03-24 08:03:52

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USA denies it's at war in Libya -

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US president Barack Obama is having trouble defining the coalition mission in Libya. He insists the
USA is not involved in a war and promises that US ground troops will be deployed in Libya.

TONY EASTLEY: When it comes to the conflict in Libya another front is being fought.

The international community, particularly the United States, is keen to immediately hose down any
ideas of coalition powers putting troops on the ground.

But it's a subject exercising many minds.

Some analysts believe the rebels by themselves do not have what it takes to defeat Colonel Gaddafi.

An adviser to the Kremlin contends a ground invasion of Libya is almost a certainty but that's
something rigorously denied by the US president.

North America correspondent Jane Cowan reports.

JANE COWAN: In a briefing that stuck carefully to the official script the US Rear Admiral Gerard
Hueber said there were no indications coalition air strikes had injured civilians.

But he didn't explain what the coalition would do next if Gaddafi's forces can't be beaten from the

REPORTER 1: Can you achieve your mission of 1973 UN Security Council resolution without ground

GERARD HUEBER: It's my primary focus today to discuss the current operations that we are in. And I
would not project or discuss future military operations.

REPORTER 2: The impression we get from you is it's gotten worse since the allies started bombing.
Is that accurate?

GERARD HUEBER: Our mandate now is to enforce the no-fly zone and to allow humanitarian assistance
to be available to the Libyan people.

JANE COWAN: A Kremlin foreign policy adviser has said he believes a ground invasion of Libya is now
almost a certainty.

But the US president Barack Obama has told Spanish-language TV a land invasion is absolutely out of
the question.

Richard Myers is a retired US general.

RICHARD MYERS: Who would put boots on the ground is a great question. And I don't think anybody -
at least I haven't heard - that anybody in NATO has agreed to do that.

JANE COWAN: For a third day running the US state department spokesman Mark Toner faced
uncomfortable questions.

REPORTER 3: Are we at war in Libya?

MARK TONER: We are implementing UN Security Council resolution 1973. It is clearly a combat
operation - a combat mission.

As the president made very clear there will be no US ground forces involved in this.

REPORTER 3: So you would not say we are at war?

MARK TONER: Uh... I - I think we've (laughs). You love these sweeping characterisations and I
appreciate that...

REPOTER 3: This is not about what I love or do not love.

(Mark Toner laughs)

The question on the table is: are we at war in Libya or not?

MARK TONER: I would say it's a combat mission clearly but beyond that you can parse that out.

I would say it's a combat mission clearly but beyond that you can parse that out.

JANE COWAN: The nuances have provided fodder too for the political satirist Jon Stewart.

JON STEWART: America - at not war.

(Audience laughs)

Now I know you said when you took office that you were going to talk to the country like we were

But we didn't think that meant like adults who'd been married for 40 years and have that weird
shorthand/repressed anger that keeps them from actually having to talk to each other at all.

And by the way I think even they would have a sit down when it comes to going to war.

"Hey honey, did we invade the neighbours?"

"Didn't you see my post-it!? For God's sakes woman!"

JANE COWAN: Whatever the mission ends up becoming the US hopes to have handed over responsibility
for it as soon as this weekend.

This is Jane Cowan in Washington for AM.