Live blog of the president's address
March 28th, 2011
08:30 PM ET
7 years ago

Live blog of the president's address

Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama addressed the nation Monday night at the National Defense University in Washington, following calls from across the political spectrum for the U.S. leader to clarify America's role in the U.N.-authorized military mission in Libya. For live updates throughout the speech follow this live blog. Find a full write on the address here and a full transcript of the remarks here.

8:02 p.m. ET - House Speaker John Boehner responded to the speech through his spokesman Michael Steel:

“It was helpful that the American people were able to hear from their Commander-in-Chief tonight. Unfortunately, Americans waited a long time to get few new answers. Whether it’s the American resources that will be required, our standards and objectives for engaging the rebel opposition, or how this action is consistent with U.S. policy goals, the speech failed to provide Americans much clarity to our involvement in Libya. Nine days into this military intervention, Americans still have no answer to the fundamental question: what does success in Libya look like?”

7:57 p.m. ET - President Obama ended his 27 minute speech with a push for democracy and freedom around the world.

"Let us also remember that for generations, we have done the hard work of protecting our own people, as well as millions around the globe. We have done so because we know that our own future is safer and brighter if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity."

7:55 p.m. ET - President Obama reiterated his comments in previous days that the people of Libya and other countries in the region will dictate changes, new leaders, etc. but said U.S. can help:

"The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference. I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed against one's own citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people."

7:55 p.m. ET - Obama talked about the importance of U.S. participation with an international coalition to support change:

"The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that. But we can make a difference. I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms: our opposition to violence directed against one's own citizens; our support for a set of universal rights, including the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders; our support for governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people."

7:54 p.m. ET
- @edhenrycnn: # Line that surprised me the most: President vows he will use military "swiftly, decisively and unilaterally" whenever necessary #Libya

7:53 p.m. ET - @edhenrycnn: # Most succint rationale of night? "We have intervened to stop a massacre"

7:52 p.m. ET
- Obama explained to Americans why the U.S. is always helping other countries:

"Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security - responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America's problems alone, but they are important to us, and they are problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world's most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help. In such cases, we should not be afraid to act – but the burden of action should not be America's alone."

7:52 p.m. ET - The president reiterated why it was important for the U.S. to become involved as part of the international coalition to protect the citizens of Libya.

"…contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all. That's the kind of leadership we have shown in Libya."

7:50 p.m. ET
- @edhenrycnn: President also asserts NOT acting "would have carried a far greater price" for America

7:49 p.m. ET - The president said he doesn't want to repeat what happened in Iraq:

"Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq's future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya. "

7:48 p.m. ET - Obama laid out key argument for U.S. involvement, after Secretary of Defense Robert Gates this weekend deemed Libya not "a vital strategic interest" to the United States.

"America has an important strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him. A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya's borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful - yet fragile - transitions in Egypt and Tunisia."

7:48 p.m. ET - @edhenrycnn: Obama Doctrine? "As President I refuse to wait for the images of mass slaughter before taking action"

7:45 p.m. ET - The president argued that "America should not be expected to police the world," but that there are times when this country must step forward.

"It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what's right. In this particular country – Libya; at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gadhafi's forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground."

"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."

7:44 p.m. ET - @edhenrycnn: #NOT a #MissionAccomplished moment: "it's not to say our work is complete"

7:44 p.m. ET - @edhenrycnn: # anyone hearing an #endgame?

7:43 p.m. ET - Obama announced the transfer of command of the mission in Libya to NATO. The transfer is scheduled for Wednesday.

"Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and No Fly Zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday."

7:40 p.m. ET
- Obama made sure he was crystal clear that this was an international effort:

"In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies - nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people."

7:40 p.m. ET
- @edhenrycnn: # counting 3 teleprompters in room

7:39 p.m. ET
- @edhenrycnn: # President says he authorized US force after world was "confronted by this brutal repression" and "campaign of killing" by Gadhafi

7:38 p.m. ET - @edhenrycnn: #President says he authorized US force after world was "confronted by this brutal repression" and "campaign of killing" by Gadhafi

7:38 p.m. ET - The president stated why the U.S. joined an international coalition to use military force to impose a no fly zone over Libya and announced the coalition has stopped Gadhafi.

"We knew that if we (wanted) waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world. It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973. We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gaddafi's troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit his air defenses, which paved the way for a No Fly Zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi's deadly advance."

7:37 p.m. ET - The president gave the history of Gadhafi's aggression against his own people and those abroad- including Americans. He said "At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Gaddafi declared that he would show 'no mercy' to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day."

7:37 p.m. ET
- @edhenrycnn: #President says US reluctant to use force but "when our interests and values are at stake" must act

7:35 p.m. ET - The president listed all the actions that the U.S. took against Libya - evacuated the embassy in Tripoli, froze Gadhafi's assets, arms embargo through the UN, etc. Then he said, "I made it clear that Gadhafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power. "

7:33 p.m. ET - Obama explained why the U.S. became involved in the international coalition to impose a no fly zone over Libya:

"For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world's many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks."

7:32 p.m. ET - Obama paid tribute to U.S. troops around the world- mentioned troops supporting the people in Japan, Iraq, Afghanistan and around the world.

7:31 p.m. ET - President Obama started off concisely telling us the speech will contain three parts of the U.S. efforts in Libya- "what we have done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us."

7:31 p.m. ET
- President Obama took the stage at the National Defense University in Washington.

Filed under: Libya • President Obama
soundoff (107 Responses)
  1. Cinthya

    According To President Obama, Why is The U.S Involved in Libya ?

    According To President Obama, How Long Will The U.S Be Involved With Libya ?

    March 28, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  2. Jamie

    Our President talks about Gadhafi has lost the confidence's of his people. Mr. President you are losing the America People confidences in you.

    March 28, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  3. Pat Stormer

    John King,

    You have just misquoted our President. Obama did not use Bush's name in his address. The reference sas clear – but you should be much more careful with your quotes!
    You sound more and more biased. Be careful!


    March 28, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  4. Alex

    Nice to know, Obama and his people actually know what role politicians suppose to play. At times, I used to get a feeling, nobody remembers any more. I am all for everything se said. Go Obama!

    March 28, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  5. carrotroot

    Very pragmatic speech, the President laid out the case of why we are there and scope of our involvement. I think he did a very good job.

    March 28, 2011 08:05 pm at 8:05 pm |
  6. frank guobadia

    i thank the people of the united states for coming to the help of the oppressed people. never give up .... and god bless you all

    March 28, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  7. galileo225

    My suport for the Pres has wavered over the last year. But that was a great speech. He has done what he said he would do on this. Despite the repubs that wanted a no fly zone when they knew Obama was against it only to change their tune as soon as he decided it should be done. They are predictable snakes and vermin at least. Not an honest bone in their bodies. They speak as if there american patriots and act like treasonous criminals. It would be great if they actually tried to work together to fix our economy. Instead of sabotaging it to stop the recovery until they can sleeze their way into the senate and white house. Good Job Mr. President.

    March 28, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  8. Pete

    This was a fantastic explanation of American ideals and goals, WITH RESTRAINT. Can you imagine if only we had had a president with this kind of intelligence before the Irag war, and how many American soldiers would still be here !

    March 28, 2011 08:07 pm at 8:07 pm |
  9. free arab

    Tyrants of the middle east, degage before the Obama doctrine degages you....PS: degage is the term used by tunisiens requesting zineddine to step sown

    March 28, 2011 08:08 pm at 8:08 pm |
  10. Grover

    This is the best speech the President has made. For my fellow Americans remember our brothers killed by Ghadafi, Lockerbee, and that young raped woman brave enough to cry to the powers of freedom for help. This is the right way and time to act, there is a movement a yearning for freedom in the youth of the region and this is the only way true change will come. We all have differences as Americans but, we must remember Power is not maintained in a vaccum but is reflected in difficult decisions with calculated risk. I am proud that we have intervened as we should have sooner in Kossova, Rwanda to name a few. My country the US has led a coalition to stop a madman, I have always said Ghadafi was our major threat in the region and I am happy the youth have had enough. Freedom is sometimes paid for in the blood of youth, but in this battle, as the freedom capitol of the world we cannot allow others to be killed in vain and slaughtered when they seek values that we ourselves, not when we have the power to stop the slaughter. Truly God Bless America.

    March 28, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  11. Eric Jordan

    There is an even larger humanitarian crisis in Japan, and possibly globally. Wouldn't our efforts best be directed there?

    March 28, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  12. jules sand-perkins

    This was one of Obama's best speeches.
    It illuminated his choices in Libya, and it also made progress toward his being elected to a second term.

    March 28, 2011 08:10 pm at 8:10 pm |
  13. Wire Palladin, S. F.

    I am damn proud of our president! Republicans are out to lunch again.

    March 28, 2011 08:11 pm at 8:11 pm |
  14. Sue

    And, this clueless and incompetent, half-wit idiot renting our White House until 2012--is in charge of the security of the US and the safety/security of our troops.


    Now CNN.......Be the good little pro-Obama puppet media-–and begin your cover/lies/spin in order to try to cover up the incompetence of this idiot.

    March 28, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  15. Waleed

    In my opinion, this is how American power should be used. Unfortunately, I fear that far too many Americans will not fully understand the differences between the cowboy tactics of Bush and the coalition building of Obama.

    March 28, 2011 08:13 pm at 8:13 pm |
  16. Paul Ernest Show

    The use of the term "the Libyan people" may not be as true as our leaders and NATO imply. The fact is that Benghazi and the surrounding cities only make up less than half of the Libyan population. There are Libyans who would not want to be under the opposition government, and from all indications, the opposition may seek retaliation against the population that's against its leadership, again creating another human crisis. What then will the US and its allies do, if the opposition troops go after civilians standing in their way of taking Tripoli? And if it succeeds to take Tripoli what conditions will it subject these civilians who do not wish to be governed by them? There are many unanswered questions, before NATO fully assist the opposition, to take Tripoli. The US and its allies may consider splitting Libya , to guarantee the peace and safety of every Libyan.

    March 28, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  17. Snapura

    Handing it over to NATO, eh? So, we bomb the hell out of Libya, fail to finish the job, and now we're giving over power to an impotent NATO?! The same countries that are reluctant to put boots on the ground?

    This is like cutting a huge fart in a room full of people and then leaving so that everyone else has to deal with it. Barry better hope that this thing ends quickly or he's going to have a MUCH bigger smudge on his resume' come election season.

    March 28, 2011 08:14 pm at 8:14 pm |
  18. millview2010

    Wolf needs to stop making up news. Just report it. There is no doctrine unless the President makes one. Not Wolf. He needs to stop bringing in that bitter old looser McCain to speak against the president.

    March 28, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  19. Ron Miller

    As a former Marine I want to know if we are "protecting civilians" Why are we flying close air support for rebel advances? Can someone answer that?

    March 28, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  20. JAlexander

    God Bless America. Obama tonight represented the finest of America and i am pleased that this beacon of light exist today in this world. The American people were wise in electing this man as president and i trust the people will continue to exercise their wisdom should he err or go off course (but as at now, he is spot on course). We are proud of you Mr President. God Bless us.

    March 28, 2011 08:17 pm at 8:17 pm |
  21. T'sah from Virginia

    There goes DUMB McCain – reading more into what was said and finding "troubling" words and the "troubling" words are "Gaddafi must go and it must be by force!!!!!" and President Obama did not promise that – he ONLY said "Gaddafi Must Go" and we can hit him "politically" to do so!!!

    Jeez!! McCain is first and the others will follow – one by one – from the RIGHT – the GRINCH – the PA'IN – good&PaLENTY – the BARBOUR – BACH and other war-mongering sheriffs in town!!!

    March 28, 2011 08:18 pm at 8:18 pm |
  22. Nick, Holly Springs, NC

    The President clearly presented his policy regarding the use of the military in foreign countries. He answered all of the questions his opponents have been asking. Interestingly, the President noted that he had conferred a week ago with a bipartisan group of congressional leaders. Why didn't Boehner and McConnell admit that while they were claiming they didn't know what was going on in Libya? What we are doing in Libya is the right thing.

    March 28, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  23. Judy Stanton

    Isn't there a difference between Iraq/Bush 1 and Libya in that the people of Iraq were not rising up against Sadam when Bush launched the 1st gulf war, stopping short of going in to remove Sadam, whereas the Libyan people have in fact risen against Gadhaffi?

    March 28, 2011 08:19 pm at 8:19 pm |
  24. Mike in SA

    ...and no mention of why he didn't inform Congress, but informed everyone else know...I'll bet the Left eats this up, though, without questioning anything.

    March 28, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
  25. sharky

    Libya, Iraq NO difference. But the ridiculousness of why even bother with Libya, oh for "humanitarian" reasons. Well what about all the other countries with brutal dictators? Obama has already said the head of the Ivory Coast needs to step down. So what are we going to attack that next? What about Syria? The leader is apparently saying kill those that oppose me, but no no apparently Syria is not as important, yet Libya has nothing to do with US interests. Oh wait I forgot, Libya has the LARGEST oil reserves in Africa and the 9th largest in the world. HMMMMMMMMM

    March 28, 2011 08:20 pm at 8:20 pm |
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