04 21 2015
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  • When should we use military to enforce US goals? NASHUA, N.H. (AP) — Rand Paul lashed out Saturday at military hawks in the Republican Party in a clash over foreign policy dividing the packed GOP presidential field. Paul, a first-term senator from Kentucky who favors a smaller U.S. footprint in the world, said that some of his Republican colleagues would do more harm in international affairs than would leading Democrat Hillary Rodham Clinton. "The other Republicans will criticize the president and Hillary Clinton for their foreign policy, but they would just have done the same thing — just 10 times over," Paul said on the closing day of a New Hampshire GOP conference that brought about 20 presidential prospects to the first-in-the-nation primary state. "There's a group of folks in our party who would have troops in six countries right now, maybe more," Paul said. Foreign policy looms large in the presidential race as the U.S. struggles to resolve diplomatic and military conflicts across the globe. The GOP presidential class regularly rails against President Barack Obama's leadership on the world stage, yet some would-be contenders have yet to articulate their own positions, while others offered sharply different visions. Former Florida Gov. Jeb Bush, whose brother, President George W. Bush, authorized the 2003 invasion of Iraq, declined to say whether he would have done anything different then. Yet Jeb Bush acknowledged a shift in his party against new military action abroad. "Our enemies need to fear us, a little bit, just enough for them to deter the actions that create insecurity," Bush said earlier in the conference. He said restoring alliances "that will create less likelihood of America's boots on the ground has to be the priority, the first priority of the next president." The GOP's hawks were well represented at the event, led by Florida Sen. Marco Rubio and Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who has limited foreign policy experience but articulated a muscular vision during his Saturday keynote address. Walker said the threats posed by radical Islamic terrorism won't be handled simply with "a couple bombings." "We're not going to wait till they bring the fight to us," Walker said. "We're going to bring the fight to them and fight on their soil." South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham addressed the question of putting U.S. troops directly in the battle against the Islamic State group militants by saying there is only one way to defeat the militants: "You go over there and you fight them so they don't come here." Texas Sen. Ted Cruz suggested an aggressive approach as well. "The way to defeat ISIS is a simple and clear military objective," he said. "We will destroy them." Businesswoman Carly Fiorina offered a similar outlook. "The world is a more dangerous and more tragic place when America is not leading. And America has not led for quite some time," she said. Under Obama, a U.S.-led coalition of Western and Arab countries is conducting regular airstrikes against Islamic State targets in Iraq and Syria. The U.S. also has hundreds of military advisers in Iraq helping Iraqi security forces plan operations against the Islamic State, which occupies large chunks of northern and western Iraq. Paul didn't totally reject the use of military force, noting that he recently introduced a declaration of war against the Islamic State group. But in an interview with The Associated Press, he emphasized the importance of diplomacy. He singled out Russia and China, which have complicated relationships with the U.S., as countries that could contribute to U.S. foreign policy interests. "I think the Russians and the Chinese have great potential to help make the world a better place," he said. "I don't say that naively that they're going to, but they have the potential to." Paul suggested the Russians could help by getting Syrian President Bashar Assad to leave power. "Maybe he goes to Russia," Paul said. Despite tensions with the U.S., Russia and China negotiated alongside Washington in nuclear talks with Iran. Paul has said he is keeping an open mind about the nuclear negotiations. "The people who already are very skeptical, very doubtful, may not like the president for partisan reasons," he said, and "just may want war instead of negotiations."
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TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) -- Hours after NATO airstrikes pounded the area near Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's compound again before dawn Thursday, Russia's envoy to Libya turned up at a bombing site while on a visit to Tripoli for talks on ending the civil war.

Italy's foreign minister, meanwhile, said his government was calling together tribal leaders from all parts of Libya for a meeting to promote reconciliation.

Franco Frattini said Thursday up to 300 people representing all of Libya's regions will attend the meeting. He did not give a date. The ANSA news agency said the meeting might take place next week.

And one of Gadhafi's sons told an Italian newspaper that his father would not seek exile outside Libya but that elections under International supervision could offer a way out. A vote could be organized within 3 months, he said.

The son, Saif al-Islam, told Corriere della Sera that Gadhafi would step aside if he lost, which the son said was unlikely. He acknowledged, however, that "my father's regime as it developed since 1969 is dead." The son said he envisions a federal state with strong local autonomy and a weak central government in Tripoli.

In Moscow, the ITAR-Tass news agency said enovy Mikhail Margelov had met in Tripoli with Foreign Minister Abdul-Ati al-Obeidi and planned a session with Prime Minister Al-Baghdadi Al-Mahmoudi. Reporters taken to a bombing site - it was not clear if it was the location hit early Thursday - saw Margelov there, in the company of government officials.

Last week, Margelov visited the Libyan rebel stronghold of Benghazi and said that Gadhafi has lost his legitimacy. However, Margelov also said NATO airstrikes are not a solution to Libya's violent stalemate.

The Interfax agency quoted Margelov as saying, after meeting the foreign minister, that he was told "Gadhafi is not prepared to leave, and the Libyan leadership will talk about the country's future only after a cease-fire." The foreign minister also said, according to Margelov, that the African Union should be "the main force" in reaching a resolution.

The latest NATO strike on Gadhafi's compound rattled windows across the heart of the capital, producing thunderous concussions and smoke billowing into the air.

It was not clear what was hit, and there was no word on casualties. Government officials did not immediately comment on the strike. NATO warplanes have repeatedly targeted the area in and around the Bab al-Aziziya compound.

NATO launched its air campaign nearly three months ago under a United Nations resolution to protect civilians. What started as a peaceful uprising inside the country against Gadhafi and his more than four-decade rule has become a civil war.

Poorly equipped and trained rebel fighters have taken control of the eastern third of Libya and pockets of the west. The fighting had reached a stalemate until last week when NATO launched the heaviest bombardment of Gadhafi forces since the alliance took control of the skies over Libya.

NATO has been pounding Gadhafi's military and government positions with increasing vigor and the rebels are again on the move.

Tunisian army official Mokhtar Ben Nasr said the number of Libyans fleeing has mounted in recent days, with 6,330 Libyan refugees crossing into Tunisia earlier this week. Dozens of Libyan soldiers also have defected to Tunisia by boat, the state news agency there reported Wednesday.

A Tunisian official said a lieutenant colonel was the latest Libyan officer to desert Gadhafi's army and flee across the border.

The official told The Associated Press Thursday that the officer took a desert road through the Sahara to cross the border near the town of Ben Guerdane, where he was stopped by a Tunisian national guard unit.

The officer told authorities that he wanted to join his family. They had earlier fled Libya for the Tunisian island of Djerba, the official said, speaking on condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to talk to the press.

The officer defected Wednesday, the same day that 46 more soldiers, including officers, sailed boats to the Tunisian port of Ketf and defected, citing the intensified fighting in Libya.

Britain's prime minister has said that time is running out for Gadhafi's forces, even as some senior military leaders within NATO have voiced concerns that the mission is straining the alliance's resources.

"Time is on our side," British Prime Minister David Cameron told lawmakers Wednesday. "We have got NATO, we've got the United Nations, we've got the Arab League, we have right on our side. The pressure is building militarily, diplomatically, politically, and time is running out for Gadhafi."

In Washington, the White House insisted Wednesday that President Barack Obama has the authority to continue U.S. military action in Libya even without authorization from lawmakers in Congress.

Its 32-page report to Congress argues that because the U.S. has a limited, supporting role in the NATO-led bombing campaign in Libya and American forces are not engaged in sustained fighting, the president is within his constitutional rights to direct the mission on his own.

But the report appeared to do little to quell congressional criticism. A spokesman for House Speaker John Boehner, R-Ohio, said the White House was using "creative arguments" that raised additional questions.

---

Associated Press writer Julie Pace in Washington contributed to this report.

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