The governmental meeting I chose to observe was the Senate Armed Services Committee meeting that took place on March 31st 2011. I observed this meeting via Before observing this meeting the plan I formulated was to observe this meeting with an open mind, and take in as much information as possible to help me understand the issues being discussed during the meeting. The ultimate goal was to use this information I obtained from the meeting, to help me have a better understanding of how the issues discussed impact our nation. The other part of my plan I formulated before I observed this meeting was to use all I would learn from the meeting to help better shape my opinions and views related to political and governmental issues.
The Senate Armed Services Committee meeting took place on Capitol Hill in Washington D.C. on March 31st 2011. The meeting was held to discuss the action being taken by the U.S. in Libya to help remove Colonel Muammar Gadhafi and his regime from power. In attendance at this meeting was U.S. Secretary of Defense Dr. Robert Gates, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen and the members of the Senate Arms Committee which is made up of the following members who were also in attendance: Chairman of The Armed services Committee; Senator Carl Levin D- Michigan, Senator John McCain R- Arizona, Senator Joseph Lieberman D- Connecticut, Senator Roger Wicker R- Mississippi, Senator Jim Webb D- Virginia, Senator Susan Collins R- Maine, Senator Kelly Ayotte R-New Hampshire, Senator Mark Udall D- Colorado, Senator Kay Hagan D- North Carolina, Senator John Cornyn R- Texas, Senator Lindsay Graham R- South Carolina, Senator Richard Blumenthal D- Connecticut, Senator Jeff Sessions R- Alabama, Senator Mark Begich D- Alaska, Senator Joe Manchin D- West Virginia, and Senator Claire Mcaskill D- Missouri.
This meeting I observed seemed as though it was going to be shaped around the impacts that foreign policies and actions have on our nation, like the efforts in Libya that were set to be discussed in this meeting. Foreign affairs seem to be showing America how vulnerable we are. Foreign policy seems to remain an issue that sharply divides Republicans and Democrats of our nation’s government. (Yankelovich, 2005).
The mediator of this meeting was the chairman of the Armed Services Committee Senator Carl Levin. Senator Levin started off the meeting by addressing the actions taken by President Barack Obama and his administration in helping assemble a broad military coalition. Senator Levin then elaborated on the efforts that had been made by this coalition in support of the United Nations resolution in Libya to help remove Colonel Muammar Gadhafi from power. Senator Levin then went on to discuss the importance of delivering the nation of Libya back into the hands of its people, and out of the hands of a tyrant like Gadhafi. Senator Levin went on to say that the ultimate goal of the actions being taken by the United States in Libya, are being taken to ensure the stability of the nation for its people. Senator Levin then went on to express the views of President Obama, and stated the President had said while the ultimate goal of the actions being taken by the U.S. in Libya is to save lives, the broader goal is pursuing a securer nation for the people of Libya. Senator Levin then turned the meeting over to Senator John McCain R- Arizona.
Senator McCain began by saying he was in full support of the President’s decision to take military action in Libya. Senator McCain elaborated on why he was in full support of the President’s decision to take military action, and expressed his views and opinions on this situation. Senator McCain stated that the President’s decision to take military action in Libya was a positive way reaching the goal of forcing Gadhafi to relinquish power and leave Libya, and making it possible to return the nation of Libya back to its people. Senator McCain addressed a few more issues related to course of action the U.S. was taking in Libya, and then turned the meeting over to the U.S. Secretary of defense Dr. Robert Gates. Secretary Gates began by giving a brief overview of how involved the U.S. will be in Libya. Secretary gates when on to say that the authority of the efforts in Libya had been transferred from the U.S. to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization (NATO). Secretary Gates expressed that he felt NATO was better equipped to handle the overall efforts in Libya, to force Gadhafi out of power. Secretary Gates went on to explain that the U.S.’s involvement with the efforts in Libya would be done from a supportive role. Secretary Gates would go on to explain the supportive role the U.S. would have in Libya. Secretary Gates stated that the U.S. would assist with the efforts by providing intelligence, search and rescue, and aerial refueling. Secretary Gates stated at this point there would be no further defensive action taken by the U.S. against Gadhafi. Secretary Gates also stated all efforts by the U.S. would now be in support of the actions taken by NATO in their efforts to remove Gadhafi from power in Libya. Secretary Gates then briefly turn the meeting back over to Senator John McCain of Arizona who made this brief statement. “We did not ask for the conflict in Libya but we’re right to intervene” Senator McCain then turned the meeting back over to U.S. Secretary of defense Dr. Robert Gates. Dr. Gates began by addressing the dangers in Libya with Gadhafi in power. Secretary Gates then elaborated on how the international need for military action was greatly needed in Libya to help minimize the strength of Gadhafi forces. Secretary Gates then stated that the security and prosperity of the United States greatly depends on the security and prosperity of the broader Middle East. Secretary Gates ended by saying it was of great importance of national interest to support the joint efforts in Libya to help remove Gadhafi from power. Secretary Gates then turned the meeting over to the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen.
Admiral Mullen began with briefing everyone, with a brief assessment of where the U.S. stands in its supportive stance of assisting NATO with the efforts in Libya. Admiral Mullen stated with NATO now in complete control of the efforts in Libya to remove Gadhafi from power, missile strikes that had been launched hot and heavy by the U.S. as part of the joint effort had now enforced and sustained the no fly zone, which had been one of the goals of the joint efforts in Libya. Admiral Mullen then elaborated on the minimal participation by the U.S. in Libya. Admiral Mullen informed everyone that though the efforts by the U.S. in Libya are minimal those efforts would be made to support the goal in Libya of removing Gadhafi and his regime from power. Admiral Mullen also stated those efforts would be used to help reduce the efforts by Gadhafi and his forces to terrorize the people of Libya. Admiral Mullen would end by saying the U.S. Armed forces would continue to support the mission and efforts in Libya, and do all they can to make the mission and efforts in Libya as successful as possible. Admiral Mullen then thanked everyone in attendance for their continued support of our men and women in the armed forces.
The meeting at this point turned into a forum for questions to be asked by the Senate Armed services Committee, the questions would be directed at the U.S. Secretary of defense Dr. Robert Gates and The Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Admiral Mike Mullen. There were many questions asked by the members of the committee. The questions directed at Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen ranged from different perspectives. Some of the questions asked consisted of things like, should more military action be taken in Libya to force out Gadhafi? Should the military increase their involvement in the effort in Libya? Can the efforts in Libya be successful with only minimal participation by the U.S.? These questions and many others were directed at Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen addressed and answered each question asked of them by the committee, with sincerest regard and in the most factual way possible.
After all the questions had been asked that were directed at Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen, the meeting was turned back over to the Chairman of the Committee Senator Carl Levin. Senator Levin began by asking for Final thoughts of Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen about the efforts in Libya and was it possible for those efforts to be successful with the U.S. only being in a supportive role. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen gave their final views and opinions to the Committee about the efforts in Libya and the minimal participation by the U.S. in these efforts both said they hope the efforts contribute to the ultimate goal of the efforts in Libya which is removing Gadhafi from Power and returning the nation of Libya back to its people. Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen then turned the meeting back over to committee Chairman Senator Carl Levin. Senator Levin thanked everyone for attending the meeting expressed his gratitude to Secretary Gates and Admiral Mullen for the Job they have done in the Libyan efforts, and the meeting was adjourned.
The Senate Armed Services Committee meeting I observed is a common example of how uncertainty in our government can cause division among the members of our government. My plan before observing this meeting was to observe the meeting with an open mind and take in as much knowledge and information as possible, to help me better understand the issues that impact our nation. While observing the meeting I gained a lot of insight into the issues that impact our nation and realized the issues do not have to be in our own back yard to impact our nation. So the first part of my plan was a success, because now I have a better understanding of the issues that impact our nation, and realize they can be both foreign and domestic. During my observation of The Senate Armed Services Committee meeting I saw that the efforts by the U.S. in Libya to help remove a tyrant like Gadhafi from power can impact our nation just as hard, by causing division among our government over how much action is too much or too little. Meeting the global threat of terrorism and fostering Global economic development clearly requires close cooperation with other nations by the United States, to maintain good will throughout the world (Yankelovich, 2005).
Humanitarian efforts like those in Libya are a good example of national good will, but remain one of the many issues our nation faces that allow the members of our government to throw blame. And that was easy to see in this meeting I observed, where the secretary of Defense and the Chairman of The Joint Chiefs Staff seemed to be the whipping boys for the efforts by our nation in Libya.
This brings me to the final part of my plan. Before observing this meeting I had planned on using all I would learn from the meeting to help better shape my opinions and views related to political and governmental issues. I feel as though I failed at this part of my plan because even though I learned a lot from observing this meeting it did not help shape my opinions or views of these issues any differently. Many Americans often think of themselves as quite diverse in their political views and opinions. (Frankfort-Nachmias, 2011). Because of the division I saw between the members of our government during this meeting, I feel my views and opinions are very diverse but have been fair when it comes to governmental and political issues. This meeting clearly showed me our political and governmental leaders, cannot join together in unity to overcome the issues both foreign and domestic. When the issues become too great to bear, our political and governmental leaders seem to be growing further and further apart over political issues. The continued division caused over political issues and governmental action, like Libya by our political and governmental leaders’ overtime is weakening the structure and stability of our nation. The events that have happened in Libya should serve as a reminder to all of us why having a strong and stable nation should be our top priority.