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Clinton, Gates (& Tom) discuss the limits of Libyan action on ‘Meet the Press’

I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it:  Gates: "I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been ...

SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images
SAUL LOEB/AFP/Getty Images

I was on Meet the Press yesterday, following Hillary Clinton and Robert Gates. I was struck at how frequently they emphasized the short-term, limited nature of the U.S. action in Libya, and how they used the past tense to discuss it: 

Gates: "I think that the no fly zone aspect of the mission has been accomplished."

Clinton: "I think we’ve prevented a great humanitarian disaster."

Gates: "we see our commitment of resources actually beginning to — to decline."

Gates: "in terms of the military commitment, the president has put some very strict limitations in terms of what we are prepared to do."

Gates: "I don’t think it’s [Libya]  a vital interest for the United States. But we clearly have interests there.  And it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States."

I also was struck at how much more assertive Clinton seemed than Gates. A friend of mine calls this "State’s War."

Thomas E. Ricks covered the U.S. military from 1991 to 2008 for the Wall Street Journal and then the Washington Post. He can be reached at ricksblogcomment@gmail.com. Twitter: @tomricks1

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