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Kirk, Dold Oppose American Ground Troops in Libya

Senator and Congressman support President Obama’s action but seek more information.

(R-Highland Park) and (R-Kenilworth) strongly opposed the use of American ground forces in Libya Tuesday while speaking at a Town Hall meeting of more than 250 people at the North Shore Senior Center in Northfield. 

“No American boots on the ground,” Kirk said to the loudest applause of the day.

At the same time, Kirk and Dold voiced support for the no-fly zone established Saturday over Libya and said Congress should play a role when United States’ troops are committed to battle. 

“I want to know the president’s plan,” Kirk said after the meeting. “I support the Powell Doctrine, which is a clear plan and a quick exit.” 

Dold agreed with Kirk. He also wants an explanation from President Barack Obama before deciding if a Congressional resolution favoring the American action is required. 

“It’s the right thing to do,” Dold said about the no-fly zone. “What Congress is asking for, what I’m looking for is what is our mission, make sure it is well defined. Make sure it is decisive and quick and we be able to withdraw.” 

In response to a question asking if Kirk and Dold favored expanding the no-fly zone to “include regime change,” Kirk expressed uncertainty over what kind of rule would follow Libyan leader Muammar Gadaffi, but said he was willing to take the risk. 

“I’m for Americans winning,” Kirk said. “We have now the prospect of backing a rebel government. There are no guarantees, but I think almost any government is going to be better than Muammar Gadaffi.” 

Kirk recounted acts of terror sponsored by the Libyan leader aimed at the United States, including the bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 that killed more than 180 Americans in 1988. He also reminded the group of the hijacking of the cruise ship Achille Lauro in 1985, when American Leon Klinghoffer was pushed off the ship in his wheelchair by his captors before the hostages were released. 

“I support what President Obama has laid out,” Kirk said. “I very much hope this is a quick operation. If you enter into a military action, be decisive, be quick.” 

Dold echoed Kirk’s views on Gadaffi.

“We are talking about a madman who has turned his fighter planes on his own people,” he said. 

District and state finances also discussed

One questioner challenged whether Dold’s values represented those of the Tenth Congressional District because of some of his budget cutting votes. He responded that he was keeping the district in mind with his votes on more than 500 savings measures.

“I voted to not defund the humanities and the arts. I voted to not do a lot of the things my colleagues wanted to do,” Dold said. “I am in favor of preserving many of the things that are near and dear to us in terms of the environment and the like.”

Dold also talked about criticism he has received from conservative groups for being a “reluctant cutter," specifically for votes on issues like retaining funding for Planned Parenthood.

When Kirk was asked about changes to Medicare and the health care system, he assured the group they did not have to worry about changes hurting people already using the system. He then shared the health care changes he wanted to see.

“Congress (should) make no law interfering with the decision you make with your doctor,” Kirk said. “You cannot have reform in this area without lawsuit reform. Congress should defend your right to buy health insurance from any state in the union if you find a plan less expensive.”

Questions about Egypt

Another person wanted to know if American foreign aid was being spent to repair Cairo’s sewer system and Egyptian mosques. Kirk and Dold admitted they did not know about the mosques. Kirk then explained the money spent on infrastructure in Egypt rose out of the 1978 Camp David accords ending 30 years of war between Egypt and Israel.

“When Egypt decided to bury the hatchet and no longer wage war on Israel we backed U.S.  assistance to Egypt,” Kirk said. “In general that assistance stopped what would have been far more expensive which is a Middle Eastern War. As you know Israel has nuclear weapons and we don’t want a nuclear war in the Middle East. That’s the last thing that we want.”

He expressed a desire to see democracy flourish there and the new government maintain the peace forged between Israel and Egypt 33 years ago.

“With the unrest that’s going in the Middle East right now and certainly with Egypt it is a huge concern,” Dold said. “How the United States handles Egypt and what gets put in place will be the model we use with other nations around the Middle East.”

According to Dold, foreign aid to Egypt is tied it its maintenance of its peace treaty with Israel. He believes the country’s relationship with Israel is tied to the United States’ security interest in the Middle East.

“When we look at our one true ally in the Middle East, the State of Israel, and them (Egypt and other Middle Eastern countries) being put on alert right now, what is good for the State of Israel is good for the United States.”

Law against texting while driving

Before answering questions from the crowd, Kirk and Dold gave an update on their efforts to cut spending in Washington and stimulate the economy. Dold then unveiled his plan to introduce federal legislation next week to stop texting while driving. 

Explaining that the elimination of texting while driving is something that “should be taken up state by state,” Dold said that he wants to motivate the states to enact legislation by offering incentives from the Federal government. Illinois has such a law. 

The details will be formulated when he returns to Washington next week. He told the group he believes texting while driving is much worse than driving under the influence of alcohol. 

“Talking on a cell phone makes you four times more likely to get in an accident. Driving while intoxicated is the same,” Dold said. “Texting makes you eight times as likely to get in an accident.”

Ellen Beth Gill March 23, 2011 at 02:57 PM
Did anyone ask Kirk why he didn't support the Powell Doctrine with respect to Iraq and Afghanistan?

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