WASHINGTON: Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday that the United States would not be sending military advisers to aid Libya’s rebels despite decisions by France, Britain and Italy to do so.
“There is a desire to help them be more organized and we support that. We’re not participating in it, but we support it,” she said in a conversation moderated by Charlie Rose at the State Department and aired on PBS.
She responded “no” when asked if the United States would follow the lead of its European allies.
The White House had earlier said that US President Barack Obama backed the three countries’ decisions to dispatch advisers, saying it would help the opposition battling strongman Muammar Qadhafi’s forces.
“But it does not at all change the president’s policy of no boots on the ground for American troops,” spokesman Jay Carney said.
Many Americans, weary from the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, fear that sending ground troops in to back Nato’s air campaign would plunge their country into a third bloody, long-term conflict in the Muslim world.
“We want to get to a point where there is a resolution and it has to be a political resolution,” Clinton said.
“But it may not be as quick as all of us would like to see it, and I think there is a lot of effort being put into the political outreach that is going to be necessary to try to resolve this.”
When asked whether she thought a political solution was possible that would allow Qadhafi, who has ruled Libya for over 41 years, to remain in power, she responded: “I don’t think so.”
However, she also said “It’s too early to tell” if the conflict has reached a stalemate.
Massive Libyan protests in February — inspired by the revolts that toppled longtime autocrats in Egypt and Tunisia — escalated into war when Qadhafi’s troops fired on demonstrators and protesters seized several eastern towns.
The battle lines have been more or less static in recent weeks, however, as Nato air strikes have helped block Qadhafi’s eastward advance but failed to give the poorly organized and lightly-armed rebels a decisive victory.