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U.N. Ambassador Admits: We Have 'Not Ruled Out' Military Support for Rebels


During an appearance on ABC's "Good Morning America" today, U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice made a startling admission: the U.S. has "not ruled out" military support for the rebels in Libya:

That's surprising for a couple reasons. First, during his Monday-night speech President Obama was adamant that the United States would not engage in regime change by force. Might military support of the rebels be regime change by force? And if that's true, why has military support for the rebels not been ruled out?

Second, as we pointed out on the blog last week, the rules of engagement in Libya have been not to help the rebels. As Josh Rogin pointed out then:

“Many in the opposition truly are civilians…trying to protect their civilian business, lives, and families,” said [U.S. operations commander Gen. Carter] Ham. “There are also those in the opposition that have armored vehicles and heavy weapons. Those parts of the opposition are no longer covered under that ‘protect civilians’ clause” of the U.N. Security Council resolution that authorized military intervention.

“It’s a very problematic situation,” Ham admitted. “Sometimes these are situations that brief better at the headquarters than in the cockpit of an aircraft.”

So how are pilots in the air supposed to tell the difference? If the opposition groups seem to be organized and fighting, the airplanes imposing the no-fly zone are instructed not to help them.

“Where they see a clear situation where civilians are threatened, they have… intervened,” said Ham. “When it‘s unclear that it’s civilians that are being attacked, the air crews are instructed to be very cautious.”

“We have no authority and no mission to support the opposition forces in what they might do,” he added.

It's all so clear, isn't it?

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