Both local congressmen expressed concern Monday about U.S. intervention in Libya, with Rep. Chris Gibson calling for an immediate withdrawal.
Gibson, R-Kinderhook, said in a prepared statement that he empathizes with the Libyan people but opposes U.S. intervention.
"Our country is currently facing a myriad of challenges, including working to complete our objectives in Iraq and Afghanistan, protecting our cherished way of life from extremist terrorist networks, and struggling here at home to address a skyrocketing deficit that poses a tremendous threat to our national security," Gibson said. "Now is not the time to take on new missions. The Libyans must decide their own fate and we should stop our military operations immediately."
Rep. Chris Gibson
Rep. Bill Owens
(Enterprise file photo)
Rep. Bill Owens, D-Plattsburgh, told the Enterprise he thinks U.S. involvement is acceptable for the short term but that he thinks our military should then pull back and hand the reins over to countries in the region.
"We are committing resources to an area where we don't have what I would consider a clear game plan," Owens said. "We have heavy commitments in Afghanistan. Obviously, my major focus is on the troops of the 10th Mountain Division, (and to) make sure this does not in any way diminish the support they're receiving."
Owens said the lack of information about U.S. plans, including how long we might be involved, makes our intervention difficult to evaluate.
The U.S., France and Britain started airstrikes against Libyan targets Saturday, saying they were needed to stop Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's violation of a cease-fire between his forces and the rebels.
Owens said he was glad Obama has said he will not put U.S. troops on the ground in Libya.
"The people are overthrowing a dictator," Owens said. "Clearly, you want to support them, but I think that support mainly has to come from those within the region - also those who depend on Libya for oil," naming the Italians, French, Spanish and Portuguese.
"The French have clearly stepped up to the plate, but I don't have any indication other groups have," Owens said.
Owens said he would like to see participation from Arab countries as well. The Arab League declared support for a no-fly zone but has been critical of the airstrikes. Several Arab countries have said they support the intervention, and Qatar has contributed aircraft to the operation.
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