U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton says Washington will continue considering all options on Libya as long as the government there continues to “turn its guns on its own people.”
Clinton testified Tuesday at a congressional hearing on U.S. foreign policy.
She also repeated demands for Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi to step down immediately. She said the entire region is changing, and in the years ahead, Libya could become a peaceful democracy or face protracted civil war.
Clinton said the U.S. is sending humanitarian and military teams to help those fleeing Libya for Tunisia and Egypt. She called the situation in Libya an example of how the State Department must use diplomatic resources to sustain and advance U.S. security.
Clinton’s testimony comes as the U.S. Congress battles over the country’s proposed budget, with some lawmakers demanding deep cuts in spending. But she warned members of the House Foreign Affairs Committee that reductions in diplomatic spending could come at a high cost.
She said a failure to fund civilian missions in places like Afghanistan, Pakistan and Iraq could cause military gains to erode or be erased.
Clinton said shifting responsibilities from military to civilian efforts saves money. She said the U.S. military’s total worldwide request dropped by $45 billion from 2010, while the State Department’s cost will increase by less than $4 billion.
Last month, the U.S. House of Representatives approved a 16 percent cut in funding for the State Department and the U.S. Agency for International Development. Clinton said if those cuts went through it would be “devastating” to national security.