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BLITZER’S BLOG: Should the Libyans pay for their liberation?
July 18th, 2011
04:14 PM ET

BLITZER’S BLOG: Should the Libyans pay for their liberation?

(CNN) - Now that the Obama administration is recognizing the Libyan opposition as the country’s legitimate governing authority, it will be only a matter of time before the $33 billion in frozen Libyan assets in the United States will start flowing to the rebels. They will no doubt begin using some of those funds to purchase badly needed weapons and spare parts to fight Gadhafi’s forces.

Pentagon officials say the U.S. already has spent close to $1 billion over these past four months in trying to protect Libyan civilians. (Tomahawk cruise missiles are not cheap.) The other NATO allies have spent more.

I have been among those who have repeatedly asked over these months whether it would be appropriate for the U.S. and its NATO allies to deduct from the frozen Libyan funds the cost of protecting Libyan civilians. At a time of worldwide economic hardship and significant budget deficits, should U.S. and other NATO taxpayers be reimbursed?

Some State Department officials have raised questions whether that would be legal under international law. The money belongs to the Libyan people, they argue, and Libyans should be the ones who decide how it’s spent.

The counter argument is that the Libyan people should be grateful to those who have helped to liberate their country from Gadhafi’s rule. In other words, they say, hand over the $33 billion to the Libyans, minus the cost of providing that outside protection.

Based on what I am hearing in Washington, this debate will intensify in the coming days and weeks.

RELATED: Libya says it's holding talks with U.S.

Post by:
Filed under: Libya • Wolf Blitzer
soundoff (30 Responses)
  1. BlackPowerHo

    I know this may be unrelated but I like Wolf Blitzer. He is the epitome of a great journalist. Very professional, at times funny and somewhat of a statesman. I used to think the same about Anderson Cooper, who is also a great journalist, but Anderson's style and content of reporting fits into a certain niche of reporting. With Blitzer, all that comes to mind is reasonable objectivity.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:08 pm |
    • Bill Owen

      Yeah, especially on Israel. A real paragon of objectivity. LOL

      July 24, 2011 at 11:00 pm |
  2. smc

    Why weren't people like Blitzer asking these questions when Bush went into Iraq alone and cost us around a trillion dollars? The Libya mission is primarily a NATO mission run by other countries and not costing us that much because we are not the ones paying for most of it. While Afghanistan is technically a NATO mission, we are paying for most of it. The Gulf War was primarily paid for by middle eastern countries like Saudi Arabia. Obama and Bush I got it right, make other countries be the ones paying for it. Bush II broke the bank twice not getting significant buy-in, and funding his wars on our backs.

    July 18, 2011 at 9:06 pm |
  3. Jeff in Illinois

    They don't owe us a cent. If you recall, no one asked us to go in. We volunteered. Volunteers don't get compensated. Maybe this will teach us to stay home where we belong with our military.

    July 18, 2011 at 8:30 pm |
  4. mar

    sorry wolf,but there wont be any so called liberation of the AL-QAEDA REBELS in Libya! you see,today in south africa,president zuma told the bigot cameron that if nato illegally invades Libya, the AU is going to defend gadaffi and african soil!

    July 18, 2011 at 8:23 pm |
  5. Inciteful

    ABSOLUTELY, the U.S. MUST deduct its costs from the frozen Libyan assets, then release the balance. There is no logical reason why U.S. taxpayers should subsidize the revolutions in foreign countries.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:54 pm |
  6. b

    If the French had thought the same way during our liberation/revolutionary war maybe we would all still be singing Hail to the Queen.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:53 pm |
  7. JLS639

    An unwritten assumption here is that the rebels will win... The other unwritten assumption is that the people will in fact be more free than they were before if the rebels win. What the rebels did in al-Qawalish suggests that not all the rebels have an agenda of freedom for all and might be seeking to "liberate" neighbors of their property.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:52 pm |
  8. Privacy Policy

    I don't know where Blitzer got his numbers but they are wrong. The UK (and France ) spend more than the US by far but nothing like $1 biilion as mentioned in this article. If the point of Mr. Blitzer is to justify to get some of Ghadafi money for the war effort, just say it, no need of spewing lies.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:46 pm |
  9. usaf2

    have Blitzer (the Wolf in a Armani Suit) found the cure to his Ugliness? this should be the headline

    July 18, 2011 at 7:28 pm |
  10. Sharon

    Hm, I seem to remember that GW said Iraq would end up paying for liberating them & that never happened. Instead we wasted billions in Iraq and have little to show for it. There just isn't any point. As I recall, some of the allies never paid us back on the Marshall plan either.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:20 pm |
  11. Nothing But The Truth

    HOLD ON!
    Why should the Libyans have to pay you for something that you bloodsuckers wanted to do from the start. Let's be real.
    You seen what was taking place in the surounding regions and tried to ride the wave because the timing was perfect.
    This was never about civilians but more about the wealth of Lybia and the medium of exchange Gadhafi was going to start charging other nations to buy their oil... GOLD.
    That would have been a death blow to Europe and America seeing your economy is already on it's death bed.

    Democrats & Republicans can't agree on nothing accept the support of Israel. However, what if an outside force decided to pick a side without the American people having the opportunity to solve their own problems.
    THEN turn around and try to charge you for something they had no business being in the first place.
    This is a joke.

    July 18, 2011 at 7:10 pm |
  12. Ron M

    Since we can't stop spending we might as well be a mercinary nation. Then we might be able to pay our bills.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:53 pm |
    • b

      we don't have to spend to be in this mess. We just need to give the money back to the rich.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:56 pm |
    • J

      We already are a mercenary nation. The only problem is that the money we reap from these actions goes directly to the coffers of big corporations.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:57 pm |
  13. mike

    there is much more than $1 billion to be made should Libya become a stable ally in the region. the idea sounds logical and smart, but its not.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  14. Bob in Texas

    Wolf, the Libyans were never given an option as to whether to accept US support. It's their money, not ours. We don't just get to take it away from them without their consent. Sure, we can send them a bill, but in this case it's up to them as to whether they want to pay it. Foreigners need to know that the money they save and invest in the US will be secure. They have to be sure we're not just going to take it away from them just because we think we should. I'd never do banking with a firm like that, and I don't expect anyone else to either.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:52 pm |
  15. fred

    funny Wolf asks this question after stating "At a time of worldwide economic hardship and significant budget deficits, should U.S. and other NATO taxpayers be reimbursed?"
    But we fund the racist state of Israel and get nothing back at all!!!! At least we will get oil and US companies will get contracts in Libya..

    July 18, 2011 at 6:50 pm |
    • Chris, Austin

      I think the assertion that we get nothing from our relationship with Israel is VERY ignorant. The level of military co-operation between the nations is heavier than we ever think about, because it's not a big, shiny event-driven story. We have a lot of assets in that country, and we use them to project all kinds of force throughout the region. Regarding the larger story, whether the Libyans will pay us back – since we have just recognized the TNC as the legitimate representatives of the people of that nation, why don't we ask them if they mind if we deduct one billion out of that thirty-three? I think we should enjoy the strong bargaining position we have with those folks right now, while they really, really need us. If and when they get into power that will shift. So, just ask. Hey, guys, surely you don't mind of we recoup some of our costs? We can back out now and let you finish the job yourselves if that's a problem. Oh, well, at this point, one billion is a drop in the bucket, unless you use it to build new schools in this country, in which case it's a massive, wasteful example of government run amuck.

      July 18, 2011 at 7:26 pm |
  16. Grant

    Darn right they should! So should Iraq and Afghanistan. The US cannot simply keep throwing money at these countries in the name of "spreading democracy." You have to pay to play. I believe that either they need to pay up, or we need to pull support. It is that simple.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:47 pm |
  17. Sailordavid

    Sorry Wolf ... bad plan, y'all never asked Iraq nor Afghanistan where drug money from USA funds arms and IEDs, besides $billions have gone to other countries for a host of reasons least of all was to buy arms and other supplies from the USA.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:39 pm |
  18. Prof. AON@GTF

    Obviously, either in cash or kind. But should not raise voices or be enforced. Being a rebel does not exclude common sense, to avoid a 'super rebel'. Liberation worths more than any resources because without the former, there is no latter. Therefore, I say "Yes!"

    July 18, 2011 at 6:26 pm |
  19. Shena Hendrix

    On the subject of Michelle Bauchman........the BIBLE teaches being gay is a can like it or lump it but it doesn't change that fact. You don't agree? Well, one day there will be judgment day for each and every one of us – God will judge according to His word. The Bible says God loves the sinner but hates the sin. You don't have to be full of hate to believe things are wrong. You can just be trying to live a Chritian life and living by God's commandments. Make fun, criticize, do whatever you feel it won't change the final outcome! I am sick to death of anything Christian or Biblical being made fun of or those of us who believe being treated as idiots or hatemongers....I dare say we have love others can't even understand – we can hate sin – ours and others and love the sinners! We all fall short of the glory of God but we can strive to live according to God's word!

    July 18, 2011 at 6:03 pm |
  20. Since57

    What the hell is wrong with the leaders of this country? We go over there, we help out and we the taxpayers may have to flip the bill? WHY! You know, far to often we the people of the United States are hearing about Billions going elsewhere, instead of back into our country. It's so simple...., Libya, we were there, we helped you out, you have $33billion, here's the bill. Too bad the entire goverment wasn't a hard drive we could format, and reload.... The United States is failing...., excuse me Mr. Obama and crew..., let's worry about us for now, ok.

    July 18, 2011 at 6:02 pm |
  21. Chris Brown fl

    Wolf your question sounds like the kind of question that the gov would ask of course we should ! we have fought wars all over the world iraq afgan veit nam they have bankrupted us We free their people then they crap all over us. I say part of a balance budget to start chargeing. No bussiness in the world does things for free why should the gov

    July 18, 2011 at 5:15 pm |
  22. ND

    Is this a real question? If a country asks for our help we are a hired police force. The people of Libya weren't yelling for France or anyone else to come save them or to recognize them? Our country is too broke to be doing free favors for anyone.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:14 pm |
  23. 48dave

    No. We should not charge the new Libyan government for services rendered. Do we want to become military mercenairies? They should repay us by treating their people right and by being good solid allies of the U.S.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:13 pm |
  24. Karen

    If it's legal, then absolutely.

    July 18, 2011 at 5:11 pm |
  25. Aaron Locke

    Dear Rebels
    Due to the unfortunate timing of your revolt,we will be unable to acually release these funds to you in cash.
    We do however offer you the full amount as a credit towards U.S. made goods and services.
    Best Wishes

    July 18, 2011 at 5:09 pm |

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