U.S. Tries To 'Dry Up' Gadhafi's Finances The U.S. has put pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime by instituting sanctions. Former ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill tells Steve Inskeep that officials are trying to "dry up the finances" of Gadhafi.

U.S. Tries To 'Dry Up' Gadhafi's Finances

U.S. Tries To 'Dry Up' Gadhafi's Finances

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The U.S. has put pressure on Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi's regime by instituting sanctions. Former ambassador to Iraq Christopher Hill tells Steve Inskeep that officials are trying to "dry up the finances" of Gadhafi.


It's MORNING EDITION, from NPR News. Good morning. I'm Steve Inskeep.


Western powers are considering their options for ousting Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi.

INSKEEP: The U.S. Treasury Department has already frozen billions of dollars in assets linked to Gadhafi and his family - $30 billion. The Treasury says it's the largest such action in U.S. history.

MONTAGNE: At the same time, U.S. warships move closer to Libya. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton spoke with European leaders about possibly setting up a no-fly zone over that country, and Britain's prime minister ordered his military to work up plans to do that.

INSKEEP: What has the United States done so far to put pressure on the Libyan regime?

CHRISTOPHER HILL: Well, first of all, the U.S. has kind of led the charge on sanctions, and these would be pretty serious financial sanctions. There have also been efforts to help foreign nationals get out of the country. And I think over all, there's a growing consensus in the world that Mr. Gadhafi's days are numbered.

INSKEEP: These sanctions that you mentioned, these are targeted at individual like Moammar Gadhafi and his family?

HILL: It's very clear that Gadhafi, his days are numbered. And I think it's really a matter of days when he will depart the scene.

INSKEEP: When U.S. officials speak, as they have in recent days, of the International Criminal Court, what is the message that they are sending to Gadhafi or his supporters or his family?

HILL: Well, I think it's fair to say that already what has happened in Libya is the most bloody of these uprisings that we've seen all over the Arab world. But it continues to have the greatest potential for getting even bloodier. And so I think the United States, other countries are putting Gadhafi on notice about this, that he will be held personally responsible for this type of bloodshed.

INSKEEP: Well, let's talk about escalating options to the extent that that's appropriate. There's been a lot of talk of the possibility of establishing a no-fly zone over Libya. Is that a practical option?

HILL: But frankly, to keep Libyan airplanes out of the air and out of the sort of the efforts as they've had to, you know, shoot at civilians, I think it makes a lot of practical and substantive sense.

INSKEEP: But, of course, behind the notion of a no-fly zone has to be the willingness to shoot something done, to open fire. What are the risks of the United States getting involved in a shooting war or anything resembling that in Libya?

HILL: And, as you point out, if you actually shoot at somebody and hit them, I mean, that kind of puts you much more directly involved. And, as Secretary Gates said the other day, we're going to do our best to avoid getting involved in conflicts in the Middle East.

INSKEEP: How would you describe the speed of Western involvement in this crisis with other crises in the past - things that you've been involved with, like the Balkans crises, for example?

HILL: So I think we've moved more quickly. I think it's appropriate to move more quickly. And as long as we have a kind of nuanced response to each issue, I think we'll do fine.

INSKEEP: Ambassador, thanks very much.

HILL: Thank you.

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