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Gen. Clark: No-Fly Zone is Open-Ended Commitment

By Hiram Reisner   |   Thursday, 03 Mar 2011 08:08 PM

Former NATO Supreme Allied Commander Wesley Clark says before the Obama administration decides whether a no-fly zone should be imposed over Libya, it must know where it is going with its Libyan policy because “it's a slippery slope into a much larger commitment.”

“It's all technically doable,” Clark Thursday said on Fox News. “Then the question is, what if [Moammar Gadhafi] attacks the rebels and wipes them out without using aircraft? Are we going to get in there and help the rebels, then, on the ground? So it's a slippery slope into a much larger commitment.

“And then if you send the airplanes after the tanks or after the helicopters … you may get a tremendous surge of support for the rebels out of this. It may be all they need to tip it in their favor,” Clark said. “But on the other hand, if it doesn't, then the next thing is send in the Marines, because you can't afford to lose at that point.

Clark, who supervised a no-fly zone over Iraq during the first Gulf War, said once it is imposed it becomes an open-ended commitment.

“You've got to know where you're headed,” he said. “You've got to make sure you've got all the international consensus, and then you've got to – you've got to go with that's what the decision is.

“Better be sure we're prepared to take this all the way with all of the consequences in the region, with other people saying this is United States attacking an Arab state,” Clark continued. “A third war, what the impact would be on other countries, the use the Iranians would make of it and so forth.

“So there's a lot to work through on this. It starts with going down the diplomatic route, getting a U.N. Security Council resolution that authorizes all necessary means and then working on the humanitarian side and then assembling the forces, and then working it behind the scenes.”

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