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Washington - After Criticism, Obama Says U.S. and Allies Have 'Stopped Gaddafi'

Published on: March 28, 2011 09:29 PM
By: AP
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President Barack Obama delivers his address on Libya at the National Defense University in Washington, Monday, March 28, 2011.   (AP Photo/Manuel Balce Ceneta)Washington - Vigorously defending the first war launched on his watch, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened in Libya to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are” as Americans. Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a mistake as costly as the war in Iraq.

Obama announced that NATO would take command over the entire Libya operation on Wednesday, keeping his pledge to get the U.S. out of the lead fast — but offering no estimate on when the conflict might end and no details about its costs despite demands for those answers from lawmakers.

He declined to label the U.S.-led military campaign as a “war,” but made an expansive case for why he believed it was in the national interest of the United States and allies to use force.

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In blunt terms, Obama said the U.S.-led response had stopped Gadhafi’s advances and halted a slaughter that could have shaken the stability of an entire region. Obama cast the intervention in Libya as imperative to keep Gadhafi from killing those rebelling against him and to prevent a refugee crisis that would drive Libyans into Egypt and Tunisia, two countries emerging from their own uprisings.

“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. He spoke in a televised address to the nation, delivered in front of a respectful audience of military members and diplomats.

“Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different,” Obama said. “And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”

Obama spoke as, in Libya, rebel forces bore down Monday on Gadhafi with the help of airstrikes by the U.S.-led forces. His speech was his most aggressive attempt to answer the questions mounting from Republican critics, his own party and war-weary Americans — chiefly, why the U.S. was immersed in war in another Muslim nation.

So far, the nation is split about Obama’s leadership on Libya. Across multiple polls, about half of those surveyed approve of the way Obama is handling the situation. A Pew poll out Monday found that the public does not think the United States and its allies have a clear goal in Libya — 39 percent said they do; 50 percent said they do not.

Amid protests and crackdowns across the Middle East and North Africa, Obama stated his case that Libya stands alone. Obama said the United States had a unique ability to stop the violence, an international mandate and broad coalition, and the ability to stop Gadhafi’s forces without sending in American ground troops. The message to his country and the world: Libya is not a precedent for intervention anywhere else.

In essence, Obama, the Nobel Prize winner for peace, made his case for war. He spoke of justifiable intervention in times when the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, must step in to help.

“In such cases,” Obama said, “we should not be afraid to act.”

Reaction to the speech in Congress tended to break along partisan lines, with Republicans faulting the president for what they said was his failure to define the mission clearly.

“When our men and women in uniform are sent into harm’s way, Americans and troops deserve a clear mission from our commander in chief, not a speech nine days late,” said Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, a member of the Armed Services Committee and head of the Senate Republicans’ political arm.

“President Obama failed to explain why he unilaterally took our nation to war without bothering to make the case to the U.S. Congress.”

Obama steered away from turning this into a country-by-country dissection of the Arab revolts that are testing him at every turn. Instead, he spoke in sweeping terms to draw a connecting thread.

Citing a failure to act in Libya, he said: “The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power. The writ of the U.N. Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling its future credibility to uphold global peace and security.”

The president also sought to address critics who have said the U.S. mission remains muddled.

Indeed, he reiterated the White House position that Gadhafi should not remain in power but the U.N. resolution that authorized power does not go that far. That gap in directives has left the White House to deal with the prospect that Gadhafi will remain indefinitely. Obama said the U.S. would try to isolate him other ways.

He said that the tasks U.S. forces were carrying out — to protect Libyan civilians and establish a no-fly zone — had international support. If the U.S. were to seek to overthrow Gadhafi by force, “our coalition would splinter,” the president said.

“Broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake,” Obama said.

Left unclear is what happens if Gadhafi stays.

He then raised the issue of Iraq and the move to rid Iraq of Saddam Hussein, a war that deeply divided the nation and defined the presidency of George W. Bush.

“Regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives and nearly a trillion dollars,” Obama said. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”

Domestic politics got a nod, too, in a nation saddled in debt and embroiled over how to cut spending.

“The risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly” Obama said.

The president said transferring the mission to NATO would leave the United States in a supporting role, providing intelligence, logistical support and search and rescue assistance. He said the U.S. would also use its capabilities to jam Gadhafi’s means of communication.

Obama spoke before an audience at the National Defense University not far from the White House. He has tended to speak and appear more comfortable in such settings than from behind his Oval Office desk.



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Read Comments (11)  —  Post Yours »

1

 Mar 28, 2011 at 10:15 PM ProminantLawyer Says:

Good news.

He is saving lives of vermin that attached American troops in Iran and Afghanistan. He is turning the other cheek (like a christian and not a muslim).

(notice that everything is spelled accurately)

2

 Mar 28, 2011 at 11:07 PM Mark Levin Says:

Imagine, he took time off from the golf course for that speech errrrr reading of the teleprompter.


All hail Present Obama.

3

 Mar 28, 2011 at 11:51 PM yaakov321 Says:

This is a necessary endeavor to ensure peace and prosperity in a very unstabile region. Remember, as you may read in the TANAKH, our G-d is a G-d of WAR. This is true of the egyptians who perished at the bed of the Sea of Reeds. This is true today. We must support democratic endeavors and concern ourselves with the trust and usefulness of this great nation that our Creator has afforded us to lead the way in world affairs and economic and political development. This is a time to ensure that our future is strengthened by the careful use of measured forces as necessary to ensure protection of the innocent and the excision of the treacherous. To be a pacifist is not a Torah value. It is a personal choice of persons who choose to hide their hands in the time of required strength and good will.

4

 Mar 29, 2011 at 12:04 AM Anonymous Says:

Reply to #2  
Mark Levin Says:

Imagine, he took time off from the golf course for that speech errrrr reading of the teleprompter.


All hail Present Obama.

You lack the humor and intelligence of your radio talkshow namesake. At least he has respect for the office of the president, although he may disagree from time to time with its current occupant.

5

 Mar 29, 2011 at 03:36 AM Yonason_Herschlag Says:

Reply to #3  
yaakov321 Says:

This is a necessary endeavor to ensure peace and prosperity in a very unstabile region. Remember, as you may read in the TANAKH, our G-d is a G-d of WAR. This is true of the egyptians who perished at the bed of the Sea of Reeds. This is true today. We must support democratic endeavors and concern ourselves with the trust and usefulness of this great nation that our Creator has afforded us to lead the way in world affairs and economic and political development. This is a time to ensure that our future is strengthened by the careful use of measured forces as necessary to ensure protection of the innocent and the excision of the treacherous. To be a pacifist is not a Torah value. It is a personal choice of persons who choose to hide their hands in the time of required strength and good will.

"Ensure peace"?
Who was Gadaffi attacking?

During Gadaffi's rule, he built more colleges, and raised the level of education in Libya above and beyond any other Arab country.

The goal is for the US to foot this bill, which is making all oil producers richer. It is a stab in the back for China, who gets their oil from Libya, and HAD hundreds of thousands of workers there.

If anyone benefits, it will be a small group of internationally powerful and wealthy people, who take over Libya's oil, and steal Gadaffi's incredibly large gold reserves.

6

 Mar 29, 2011 at 07:52 AM chareidi Says:

#1. Its attacked not attached

7

 Mar 29, 2011 at 07:56 AM villyamsburger Says:

Is this retaliation for the lakarbie attacks?
Otherwise I see nothing wrong with Ghadafi. He kept his country stable with a iron fist as the only mean of stabilizing a arab country.
Don't watch and listen so much to the news. Look how many supporters he has.
The emerging powers behind all overthrown arab nations are the muslim brotherhood. They are far worse then anything you heard yet.
I personally vote for Khadafi!!!

8

 Mar 29, 2011 at 09:29 AM charliehall Says:

Reply to #7  
villyamsburger Says:

Is this retaliation for the lakarbie attacks?
Otherwise I see nothing wrong with Ghadafi. He kept his country stable with a iron fist as the only mean of stabilizing a arab country.
Don't watch and listen so much to the news. Look how many supporters he has.
The emerging powers behind all overthrown arab nations are the muslim brotherhood. They are far worse then anything you heard yet.
I personally vote for Khadafi!!!

The hatred of President Obama is so strong here that on a Jewish site people are supporting a tyrant who has long supported terrorist acts against the west. Should President Obama attack Hamas or Hezbollah, these self-hating Jews would no doubt support those terrorists, too. The Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu has been superceded by the Torah of the Tea Party.

9

 Mar 29, 2011 at 10:27 AM PMOinFL Says:

Reply to #8  
charliehall Says:

The hatred of President Obama is so strong here that on a Jewish site people are supporting a tyrant who has long supported terrorist acts against the west. Should President Obama attack Hamas or Hezbollah, these self-hating Jews would no doubt support those terrorists, too. The Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu has been superceded by the Torah of the Tea Party.

Charlie,

Surely you realize that many of the people who post here do not care about Torah. There are clearly a number of talk radio fans here who are either not Jewish or certainly not frum as their ideas go far outside the bounds of Torah.

However, there is plenty of legitimate criticism of Obama. Intellectual Conservatives have been making the case since the beginning. The problem is that the "idiot class", the most uneducated and ignorant in the country, drown us out. Through their worship of radio and TV entertainers using big words that they don't really understand, all of us Conservatives are being painted with their brush.

The sad shame of it is that these people are too intellectually stunted to see the facts in front of their faces.

Morton Downey Jr. (a vile man) created the format that Beck/Hannity/Palin/Limbaugh follow. He felt there was a HUGE group in America that was so dumb they would believe the sensationalized hype over the facts. He knew that they all felt like they were on the "outside", so he gave them a voice. He made them feel included in something - "insiders". In reality, they are fools with no respect for truth of facts (as easily proven).

10

 Mar 29, 2011 at 01:04 PM Trading one evil for a bigger one again! Says:

We supported Castro against Batista and we got...... Castro!
We supported the Taliban against the USSR and we got ...... 9-11 and ten years of terror.
Now Obama is supporting Islamic Jihadists are we are going to get......??

Gadaffi may be bad, but Obama is trading in bad for evil!

11

 Mar 29, 2011 at 11:26 PM benny45 Says:

Reply to #8  
charliehall Says:

The hatred of President Obama is so strong here that on a Jewish site people are supporting a tyrant who has long supported terrorist acts against the west. Should President Obama attack Hamas or Hezbollah, these self-hating Jews would no doubt support those terrorists, too. The Torah of Moshe Rabbeinu has been superceded by the Torah of the Tea Party.

This time for once, you're absolutely right. It just baffles me how when president Obama finally does something right everyone still attacks him. Imagine former president Bush doing the same exact thing as Obama, I bet you he would be hailed in the conservative ranks as a hero and savior and as someone who has the courage to confront evil, but hey it's Obama doing it so he's a idiot he doesn't know what he's doing etc.
It's simply a double standard, conservative hypocrisy in action!

12

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