March 03, 2016

Corker Opening Statement at Hearing on "The Path Forward in Libya"

United States Senate Committee on Foreign Relations
Hearing: The Path Forward in Libya

Thursday, March 3, 2016

U.S. Senator Bob Corker (R-Tenn.), Chairman

Opening Statement

I want to thank our witnesses for testifying today. I know Mr. Wehrey just returned, I think maybe this morning from Libya or last night, with pretty fresh input. We appreciate that very much.

Like many policy issues, Libya has come in and out of the spotlight over the last five years. Today, we are again focused on Libya because of the struggling formation of a unity government and the growth of ISIS.

One of the tragedies of Libya has been our inability to build substantial policies that will help Libya progress out of revolution.

I hope that this time the focus on Libya will not fade, and that you can help us determine what our approach should be.

And again, we thank you both for being here.

For perspective, I think it is worth noting that even if a unity government is successfully seated in Tripoli, that only brings Libya back politically to where they were in 2013 – which was after U.S. Ambassador Chris Stevens was tragically killed - and two years before ISIS established itself in Libya.

For a country with vast oil wealth and thankfully void of widespread sectarian tensions, Libya should become a success story. 

I think we are all disheartened that in many ways U.S. policy, or lack thereof, has hindered Libya’s progress.

I hope our witnesses today can give us a sense of how we got to where we are, an update on the current situation, and what options we have going forward.

Libya raises important questions about the efficacy of U.S. military intervention and the necessary follow up. 

American intervention helped to depose a brutal dictator, but the complete lack of a plan for the day after created a vacuum allowing ISIS to form a terrorist safe haven. 

By contrast, in Syria, our complete failure to act when we had the opportunity to shift the balance in favor of the Free Syrian opposition clearly shows the consequences of American inaction can be just as disastrous.

I hope you can help us today to answer some of those questions in a constructive manner, so that we don’t use Libya as an anecdote for or against intervention, but rather we learn from the past to better inform our actions in the future. 

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