'Doesn't There Come a Point Where You Have to Make a Decision?'
White House Press Secretary Jay Carney barely survived the briefing today. CBS' Chip Reid was clearly fed up watching the administration do nothing about Libyan atrocities while claiming they were responding with "unprecedented" speed. Today the clock ran out on the White House and their dithering was exposed.
Q On no-fly zone, what exactly is the U.S. -- the administration's position before the Security Council?
MR. CARNEY: Our position, Chip, remains that we are evaluating a number of options, military options, including --
Q But a decision has to be made now.
MR. CARNEY: -- including a no-fly zone. We feel that it is important that any action like that that might be taken should be done in concert with our international partners. Through the United Nations would be our preferable vehicle for that, and therefore we would look to the U.N. as a forum for evaluating that option. I think I mentioned yesterday that today is the deadline for the no-fly zone option to -- preparations or plans to be submitted in Brussels at NATO. And I believe the NAC will review those tomorrow. So this process is moving forward.
But our position is that action like that should be considered and taken if decided upon in coordination with our international partners, because it's very important in the way that we respond to a situation like we see in Libya, that it be international and not unilateral; that it include the support and participation, for example, of the Arab League and other organizations and countries in the region.
And that is our sort of focus as we proceed with these conversations.
Q Is the President satisfied to follow, not lead, on deciding whether to do it?
MR. CARNEY: I take issue with the characterization. We think it is precisely because the President believes that the best outcome in a situation like we see in Libya, as we have seen in different forms in other countries in the region, that the best outcome will come when the action taken by countries -- third-party countries outside of the country where the unrest is happening -- be done in consensus with international partners, precisely so that it is not viewed by those who oppose positive democratic reform as the dictate of the West or the United States.
Q But wouldn't it be fair to say -- accurate to say the United States is still sitting on the fence on this? Isn't it time to make a decision, yes or no?
MR. CARNEY: Well, Chip, you tell me if as an American citizen would you want your President not to consider all the implications and ramifications of taking military action.
Q Doesn't there come a point to make a -- where you have to make a decision?
MR. CARNEY: And I would go back to what I said to Jill, that we have acted with great haste, and we have coordinated international -- led and coordinated an international response, the likes of which the world has never seen in such a short period of time. And we have -- we continue to consult with our international partners. We meet -- we have met with, as the Secretary of State did, with the Libyan opposition discussing new ways we can put pressure on Qaddafi.
And when it comes to considering military options, this President will always be mindful of what the mission, should it be engaged, what it entails, the risks that it poses to our men and women in uniform, and its likelihood of having the kind of impact that we set out for it to have. And that is his responsibility as Commander-in-Chief.
And I would suggest to you that that is what leadership is all about.
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