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. Anthony herzog

    Cant believe we are not going to libbya. I am in shock that The Honarable Mr. Obama will not take corrective actions and utalize his MARINES. I would be the first one to help out. Iam aware of our debt and how much war cost but, what ever happend to MARINES the worlds 911 force. Iam ready are you?

    March 28, 2011 08:21 pm at 8:21 pm |
  2. Jon

    The President was presidential in his speech tonight. No doubt his detractors will dis the speech. If it had been a republican president who ordered the military action in Libya, republicans would have had their pom poms out screaming "Go Team America Go!" and would be lined up like a giddy cheerleader to kiss the quarterback. Military action is always unfortunate, but this President did this one right. A true coalition worldwide – not a "coalition of the willing" – i.e., "screw the world, we're going in" that we saw in "Iraq II – Junior Gets His Day in the Sandbox". Thank you for leading Mr. President.

    March 28, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  3. jules sand-perkins

    It has been very hard for someone with as basically Republican a philosophy as I have to admit that Obama is doing so much better is his presidency than any potential Republican candidate for 2012 could do.
    Obama's actions regarding Libya have been ideal.

    March 28, 2011 08:22 pm at 8:22 pm |
  4. Jose Aguilar

    We support our Commander in Chief.

    March 28, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  5. ANGEL

    I applaud you Mr. President. Finally, change has come. I alone speak these words. And to those whom understand your leadership are 100% satisfied. We thank you from the bottom of our heart. Your compassion, strength, courage, decisive, intelligence, bravery, honor etc,.there is not enough word to express, finally we have a leader that knows the meaning of CHANGE! As the tears roll down my face and my heart jump for joy. I thank God Almighty! Change has come! Thank God Almighty! You are the words that Martin Luther King spoke! P. S. I salute you Mr. President. Great speech! God Bless America!

    March 28, 2011 08:23 pm at 8:23 pm |
  6. Tom B

    It is interesting to hear the Rebublican response to Obama on the Libyan endeavor when he has given a clear directive and expectation to turn the lead over to NATO forces. But where was this criticism for Bush when beginning the Iraq war? was there a clear plan and exit strategy there? The Republicans are just doing their partisan spin, and is that what they were elected to do?

    March 28, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  7. david

    Hi world news how is it going...,..... I understand we are helping different. Countries. But what America u got people still homeless from hurricane. Katrina. Floods tornados, you have people without jobs, but they we have no money to even provide for are country gas prices going up look at the prices of are food cost of living. Like McCain said we need to back away from things look what happen to 9 11 in new York..... we have to provide for are country before we provide with other people... look at emergency. Helpers people that save lives,teachers that want to quit because sports making more then people that provide for this country yes sports is fun but not worth what they are making... 145 million dollars Miami heat is giving out to players.... where is the money for jobs,living expense,gas prices... the oil is are countries.why are paying so high.... to provide for other countries someone has to make stop to this.... are country is at risk... lives we are losing for the homeless that need us....

    March 28, 2011 08:26 pm at 8:26 pm |
  8. Peter s

    The bells of democracy are still ringing!! " don't give them Aids instead give them democracy" "show them how to fish instead of giving them fish".

    March 28, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  9. Yanni

    Great leadership from one of the brightest, intelligent and pragmatic presidents in American history

    March 28, 2011 08:27 pm at 8:27 pm |
  10. NameWillRam1

    Obama addressed the American people with the Facts!. Now I hope this shuts the critics up, Oh, I forgot Boehner needs a copy of this speech in front of him so his aids can break each part down to explain it to him!.

    March 28, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  11. cr1

    I expect Code Pink to call for his impeachment for starting an illegal war with no clear goals.

    March 28, 2011 08:28 pm at 8:28 pm |
  12. J.S.H.

    I stand with you President Obama and the USA supports you! You are showing the America can project its power and still care for those who are being subjected to the brutality of dictatorships and suppressive regimes. God bless you President Obama and God bless the United States of America.

    March 28, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  13. Abraham

    Really Mr. Speaker? The President comes out, thanks our troops and practically scolds us for forgetting that once in awhile we actually have to use force to uphold our ideals and you STILL have to go there? You know, that whole blind partisanship path? Politicians are really a useless species. All of you.

    March 28, 2011 08:29 pm at 8:29 pm |
  14. NameWillRam1

    Obama made it clear, are there any objections now!

    March 28, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  15. Furious

    What was the exit when bush started the Iraq war?

    March 28, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  16. Pat Stormer

    John King,

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

    March 28, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  17. david

    We need to fight for are country are homeless are country.... are gas prices.... are food prices.... are living cost .......We need jobs in are country........

    March 28, 2011 08:30 pm at 8:30 pm |
  18. parkmore

    Well the speech was empty with no rational behind the war against Libya. he want to help Libya people, why? Why not other nations. There are too many, why just Libya? The repression in Africa is horrible, what you doing? Nothing..... Palestine, everyday there is at least one dead person (woman, kid, old man and woman...) what you doing? Nothing..... I think that your adviser pushed you the One term. I was though that you were smart and sincere, but sham I trusted you .....

    March 28, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  19. C.G. Goodwin

    After watching the President’s speech tonight (Mar 28, 2011) I now understand what party really won the last election:

    Re-elect George W. Obama - The Other White Meat

    March 28, 2011 08:33 pm at 8:33 pm |
  20. Buckeye

    The USA did this to stop a slaughter? Really? Where were US troops during the slaughter in Gaza by Israel? Oops, forgot we only stop Muslim tyrants from civilian slaughters and give a green light to zionist ones.

    March 28, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  21. maria smith

    Obama Doctrine. Very disappointed in this speech. I am not voting for him at this juncture. He sounds like he is always CAMPAIGNING and I am so tired of him answering questions Gibbs or his handlers think is important for his ratings then just speaking with leadership and sincerity. Time will tell and the world will judge him and his actions. I hope he is on the right side of history!

    March 28, 2011 08:34 pm at 8:34 pm |
  22. Drew

    Why is everyone so convinced that we must have an "end-game," that everything must be figured out, at all times prior to acting? Sometimes you just need to act. Sometimes time is of the essence. Sometimes knowledge and foresight and planning are simply luxurious unavialble. I for one am glad we have a leader who is capable of acting even with unanswered questions, knonwing full well he's going to hear all this criticism. I don't know what success in Libya will look like, or on what time table. All I know is that getting in there and stopping a pending slaughter seemed like the right thing to do. And we'll figure it out as we go. What's so bad about that? And come on, he didn't go out there guns blazing, he was deliberate and got int'l support. Can't people commend him for what he has done right?

    March 28, 2011 08:35 pm at 8:35 pm |
  23. CLYDE

    President obama went about things in the rigth way if you wait on the bickering in figthing we have with great poeple we have in goverment the women children of libya would laying in the street in blood am gald the president toke the role of a leader and not let this happen ,it's not on ower hand a lone we need these counrty to step up too. the palet as well we do not need troop on the ground to get the job done . Bush mess this country up already GOING INTO 2 WAR THAT WAY

    March 28, 2011 08:37 pm at 8:37 pm |
  24. andrew

    I think the president done the right thing. Saving people is what this should be about not politics, that is what john boenner is doing here just trying to get a word in. Thats what makes us americans mad is people like him.

    March 28, 2011 08:38 pm at 8:38 pm |
  25. maf

    Why only give Ed Henry the opportunity to poke the President whenever he felt like it. Brutal!!

    March 28, 2011 08:39 pm at 8:39 pm |
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