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. Bill

    Spin it any way you want, obama. You are a complete failure.

    March 26, 2011 11:56 am at 11:56 am |
  2. Rick McDaniel

    The US made a grave error in taking a lead role in this conflict.

    March 26, 2011 11:57 am at 11:57 am |
  3. ViName

    I agree fullt and totaly with the presidents decision. This man is anothet Hitler and must be stopped. He is not the only country who thinks this way. We are being selfish and heartless to not get involved. It matters not what country. The bottom line is we are human and all Gods creations.

    March 26, 2011 12:21 pm at 12:21 pm |
  4. B

    Who is next, Saudi Arabia ?

    How about letting someone else carry the crisis ball for a while , we have a crisis going on right here in America, right NOW.

    March 26, 2011 12:25 pm at 12:25 pm |
  5. FM

    You can not claim you are a super power nation, while you can not show to other nations where your power stands!

    March 26, 2011 12:36 pm at 12:36 pm |
  6. Nikki

    i agree mr.prez......get ur message out to america and then the lies that the gop is spreading will come to light. May god bless you, may god bless america.....

    March 26, 2011 12:40 pm at 12:40 pm |
  7. Name

    China kills many innocent people & the Sudan killing off people in darfur, we also have Yemens leader killing innocent men, women & children.
    Now our great leader wants us to believe he
    Is in this fight for humanity reasons. Without a clear mission and without bringing the case to the American people. he decided to work close with the U.N. And keeping us Americans guessing what our true mission is.

    March 26, 2011 12:49 pm at 12:49 pm |
  8. todd

    One thing is for sure. Whatever decision the president makes, a whole lot of people are gonna complain that its wrong. I dont know what world Bill lives in but I think it's a small one.

    March 26, 2011 12:50 pm at 12:50 pm |
  9. LD

    Reality: Libya is a UN conquest project precipitated by a mercenary for hire insurgency group what mission is to collapse Gadhafi's government. Labeling this a no fly zone remains a criminal resolution and serves as an example of how morally absent the UN is in it's determination to conquer the Middle East. Obama was not empowered to involve the US without authorization from congress and having followed EU policy has subordinated our constitutional republic to the British monarchy, which makes him a tyrant and subject to impeachment. Obama is Britain's man in the US, and there will be no end to this until he is leaves the White House.

    March 26, 2011 12:51 pm at 12:51 pm |
  10. Zaidi

    Even if he consulted Congress, given their record on reaching consensus, he would have still been on Capitol Hill defending his move, which we're debating today, and be criticized for not moving fast enough by going to Congress. Again, damn if he does; and damn if he doesn't. I wouldn't blame if he decided not to run for a second term. The U.S. Congress has become a dysfunctional instrument of paralysis.

    March 26, 2011 12:58 pm at 12:58 pm |
  11. Zaidi

    [corrected version] Even if he consulted Congress, given their record on reaching consensus, he would have still been on Capitol Hill defending his move, which we're debating today, and be criticized for not moving fast enough by going to Congress in the first place. Again, damn if he does; and damn if he doesn't. I wouldn't blame him if he decided not to run for a second term. The U.S. Congress has become a dysfunctional instrument of paralysis.

    March 26, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  12. LadyTiger

    Some people whine and complain all the time without ever really doing anything at all. They stir up anger and hatred/fear because they are too weak to make decisions on their own. Right now we call those people Republicans and they will lose in 2012.

    March 26, 2011 01:00 pm at 1:00 pm |
  13. LIP

    I guess you can dress this situation up in whatever clothes you want, but it still looks like the same thing that he condemed when George W. did essentially the same thing, except that Georg W. had the support of over 60 nations and Congress, instead of a handful and had to battle the Democrats for support, even though the characters we are villifying could be the one and the same, both of whom are/were guilty of mass murder. Saddam actually invaded his neighbor and destroyed their oil wells and killed hundreds, something Gadhafi has never done, yet he is worse than Saddam? Politicians will always spin it and justify it so they can accomplish whatever it is they think they want to accomplish and we just have to swallow the bitter little pill and hope for the next election to come sooner than later. We really can't afford this unless the thinking is that if we expend enough resources (ammo and rockets and planes) that we can get some of those unemployed back to work.

    March 26, 2011 01:22 pm at 1:22 pm |
  14. Ben

    I don't know. Obama's decision to invade without congressional approval is very bush-esque... On the other hand, his decision is being backed by NATO. I guess only time can tell how this will end up

    March 26, 2011 01:28 pm at 1:28 pm |
  15. Marcus

    Those who were bashing you for 'doing nothing' are now bashing you for 'doing something that should not have been done'.
    In the meantime, you and your administration managed to get UN back-up, Arab League support and NATO control of the no-fly zone... the best that you can expect from the regular bashers is a 'not bad' from their part, from the sane people in the world is a 'thank you'.
    PS: What about Yemen and Bahrein?

    March 26, 2011 01:29 pm at 1:29 pm |
  16. the real ib

    People are still all over Bush for Iraq but then come on here and take up for Obama on Libya. At least we had a possible reason to go into Iraq since countries in Europe and elsewhere thought they were a danger to the US and other countries. Libya had nothing like that; they were no threat to us. The people who take up for Obama on this and still put Bush down for Iraq are hypocrites plain and simple.

    March 26, 2011 01:30 pm at 1:30 pm |
  17. maf

    UN resolution! President Obama playing by the rules – not taking the lead, but participating as a member of the United Nations!!! Where was the consternation when GWB was doing his unilateral dance with Iraq and Afghanistan?
    The negativity of those who oppose President Obama is karmic and will come back to haunt you in ways yet to be understood!
    Be careful what you wish for!

    March 26, 2011 01:32 pm at 1:32 pm |
  18. Brian G

    Obama is doing the right thing and has the support of other nations in this cause. Many short sighted Americans speak negative of the President, however it's the same ones that supported Bush in his war...just one question, has anyone seen those WMD's? How many countless lives have been lost over a lie, ego and acting out of fear...

    March 26, 2011 01:40 pm at 1:40 pm |
  19. HateWillDo

    When the President played the roll of observer it was stated and I qoute " he does not have a stick at all". So now our thoughtful and patient leader does what any true leader would do and thats not allow our still great and gifted country to sit idoly by and these flipfloppers still miraculously find a way to bash... 2012 Lets Go!!!!

    March 26, 2011 01:42 pm at 1:42 pm |
  20. pippi sĀ”org

    Obama- what anout ur foreign policy that Gadhafi must go? Humanitarian (think Iran, Egypt,Syria) or regime change?

    March 26, 2011 01:46 pm at 1:46 pm |
  21. MAC

    Another fight that the Military will not be allowed to win because it is politically incorrect to kill your enemy, this include Ghadafi. Like General Patton said" It is not your job to die for your country but to make the other SOB die for his."

    March 26, 2011 01:48 pm at 1:48 pm |
  22. A True Centrist

    What...he's not still playing soccer?

    March 26, 2011 01:53 pm at 1:53 pm |
  23. willie floyd

    Mr. President, I admire you for putting human lives at the heart of your decision. You absolutely did the right thing by not making this a unilateral issue. To whom much is given-much is expected. Even though our country is undergoing some very hard times, we are still more fortunate than any other country I can name. God bless you.

    OBAMA/BIDEN 2012

    March 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  24. shhhh

    What I hear from Rick and the mystert guy is Wrong. The grave error would of been starting a war like the last administration. And Rick if her was spining this the actions so far Obama has taken has been positive so far.

    March 26, 2011 01:59 pm at 1:59 pm |
  25. chris

    Why is he a failure? Why did the US make a grave error? How about Rick and Bill are nitwits, because, well, it doesnt matter we are just making baseless proclamations here anyway.

    March 26, 2011 02:00 pm at 2:00 pm |
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