Washington’s calm response to Gaddafi’s action guided by fears over safety of Americans in Libya

Monday, February 28, 2011

WASHINGTON - The Obama administration’s calm and diplomatic response towards the massive unrest in Libya, which had left even its reliable supporters stunned, was due to the warnings given by its diplomats in Tripoli saying that forceful messages from Washington could “endanger the security of American citizens” in the disturbed oil rich country.

The Washington Post quoted an Obama administration official as saying that the White House officials were told by diplomats in Tripoli that “certain kinds of messaging from the American government could endanger the security of American citizens.”

There were fears that Americans could be taken hostage.

“Overruling that kind of advice would be a very difficult and dangerous thing to do,” Ben Rhodes, the Deputy National Security Adviser for Strategic Communications, said.

“That was the debate, and frankly we erred on the side of caution, for certain, and at the cost of some criticism. But when you’re sitting in government and you’re told that ignoring that advice could endanger American citizens, that’s a line you don’t feel very comfortable crossing,” Ben added.

Among those most involved in developing the administration’s response are a cadre of senior advisers who, as journalists, lawyers, academics and public officials, have worked for years on the subject of governments who kill their people and how to stop them, the paper said.

All they were concerned about was that The US should not make the same mistakes that it had committed in the past while addressing mass killings, even though critics argue that the Obama administration has already erred by staying quiet as the death toll increased in Libya, it added.

According to senior administration officials, the financial sanctions that President Obama had announced against Libya on Friday after a plane carrying a last batch of Americans left Tripoli for safety, was the first in a range of steps taken by Washington, that could even include military options if Colonel Gaddafi refuses to stop his violent campaign against pro-democracy protestors.

Earlier, Arizona Senator John McCain said that the United States or international forces could provide support to Libyans seeking to overthrow the Gaddafi regime. (ANI)

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