In weekly address, Obama makes case for Libya
March 26th, 2011
11:42 AM ET
12 years ago

In weekly address, Obama makes case for Libya

(CNN) - President Obama in his weekly address Saturday said the U.S. military has "made important progress" in the situation in Libya and defended his decision to begin a military operation.

Obama last week gave the order for the United States to begin Operation Odyssey Dawn, a multi phase mission being carried out in coalition with French and British military forces against Moammar Gadhafi's forces, after the nations became convinced that the Libyan leader was not adhering to a United Nations-mandated cease-fire. The United Arab Emirates, Turkey, Qatar, Kuwait and Jordan have also agreed to provide humanitarian or logistical support.

On Saturday Obama said, "I face no greater decision than sending our military men and women into harm's way," and made the case for his decision to engage in Libya.

In the address, which focused entirely on Libya, Obama said the United States should not be involved whenever a catastrophe occurs in the world, but that the humanitarian crisis in Libya as a result of Gadhafi's actions was grounds for intervention, calling it "our responsibility."

"The United States should not-and cannot-intervene every time there's a crisis somewhere in the world," Obama said. "But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Gadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives-then it's in our national interest to act. And it's our responsibility. This is one of those times."

"Make no mistake," Obama said, "because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians-innocent men, women and children-have been saved."

The president described the mission as "clear and focused," while touting the coalition's successes of establishing a no fly zone and pushing Gadhafi's forces back from the city of Benghazi. He also reiterated that the U.S. role in the operation, which did not include putting troops on the ground, is being diminished as NATO allies step in to take the lead.

"As I pledged at the outset, the role of American forces has been limited. We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort. Our allies and partners are enforcing the no fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea." Obama said. "Key Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates have committed aircraft. And as agreed this week, responsibility for this operation is being transferred from the United States to our NATO allies and partners."

But, Obama acknowledged that Gadhafi's forces are continuing to fight and kill civilians, and once again called for an end to the violence.

"Our message is clear and unwavering. Gadhafi's attacks against civilians must stop," Obama said. "His forces must pull back. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach those in need. Those responsible for violence must be held accountable. Moammar Gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized."

Filed under: Libya • President Obama
soundoff (61 Responses)
  1. George wellington

    Y would anyone want to defend rebels... I'm sure if the USA had an internal problem, I don't think they would want anyone droppin missiles in the US to quell the situation..

    March 26, 2011 03:34 pm at 3:34 pm |
  2. Tom

    Good thing Bill and Rick weren't around for the American revolution.

    March 26, 2011 03:38 pm at 3:38 pm |
  3. Micah

    Yet again another reason for many Americans to blame Obama for something. These are the same Americans that would see someone being robbed and pass it by. Maybe you would support him if you actually realized you gas prices will go down when this issue is resolved. If you care about the real issues, justice, and humanitarialism you would support our president.

    March 26, 2011 03:51 pm at 3:51 pm |
  4. Draden Cypher

    Obama did what was right. Help the innocent with the cooperation of the Arab nation. While allowing the international community to take more responibility.

    March 26, 2011 03:56 pm at 3:56 pm |
  5. Mark Navarro

    Since Irag has taken huge steps toward real democracy, everyone else in the region wants it. The Bush Doctrine is a success.

    March 26, 2011 03:59 pm at 3:59 pm |
  6. Jeff

    The United States has a moral obligation to assist innocent people from being slaughtered from a brutal dictator. This moral obligation should not be blinded by politics; as has done so in countries like Egypt and Yemen. Nevertheless, the President acted appropriately in Libya. But our moral obligation only goes so far as protecting innocent civilians and shoiuld not be confused as a right to interfere with foreign countries internal affairs or attempted regime change.

    March 26, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  7. Norm Pearson

    The US had a choice to watch a massacre or save thousands and we had little time to make a decision.
    Now we do need to identify to Americans what is the long term objective and what our success criteria is going forward.

    March 26, 2011 04:01 pm at 4:01 pm |
  8. jen

    Good job President Obama, let naysayers be what they are!

    March 26, 2011 04:08 pm at 4:08 pm |
  9. Ray

    Yah right mr.Obama transfering the operation from U.S. To NATO Why cant say youre transfering the operation from us to us?bravo mr. President you even doesnt know what to do!

    March 26, 2011 04:09 pm at 4:09 pm |
  10. Bukky

    Obama did the right thing...spin it however you like...war is defintely not an option for the US again but saving human lives..especially the lives of the weak is our moral responsibility. Comment and think intelligently people...

    March 26, 2011 04:22 pm at 4:22 pm |
  11. JOSEPH from Illinois

    Obama has done exactly what he said he would do. Many of the attacks against him on the LIbyan issue are more personal than political, This circumstance is epitomized by Newt Gingrich who first attacked him for not going into Libya,(March 3), and the attacked him for going in, (March 22).

    March 26, 2011 04:25 pm at 4:25 pm |
1 2 3