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. pippi sĀ”org

    Humanitarian or Regime change- comm'on Barry spit it out!

    March 26, 2011 02:08 pm at 2:08 pm |
  2. The Greedy Old Pigs are lining up to feed at the warbucks trough

    NO boots on on the ground!

    March 26, 2011 02:11 pm at 2:11 pm |
  3. Albo58

    If our country doesn't take the lead and establish clear, finite, and tangeable goals, does anyone believe this mission will succeed in the long run? There is no such thing as UN "leadership" nor is the UN in our chain of command! This President needs to find some adult supervision make a firm decision on exactly where we go from here!

    March 26, 2011 02:12 pm at 2:12 pm |
  4. Davon

    Although the violence in Libya is at a critical point ignoring the violence off the ivory coast which has claimed thousands and thousands of lives is out right outrageous. Also the lack off or rather the absence of media coverage on the conflict is a failure by all the major news organizations and it only shows how these media outlets get paid by the government in support of their "energy" endeavors. Way to go CNN good job dropping the ball again. Get back to the truth

    March 26, 2011 02:15 pm at 2:15 pm |
  5. David

    A person would need to be an idiot to be pro war, with that being said the president is antiwar but realizes the need for military action. Gadhafi has been killing his own people for wanting some basic freedoms and I as a human being have a hard just looking the other way like you people on this blog seem to do. How can you see military killing and raping their own people and not feel inclined to help?

    March 26, 2011 02:23 pm at 2:23 pm |
  6. Tony

    Well done Mr. President! That is how a true American President should lead the world. Take the initative and then hold the world accountable for their participation! This is a stark contrast to the dope head Bush who lead this country into a war that cost billions a week, that contributed to the destruction of the American economy, and left the US stranded and without any support in the world.

    We are proud of you President Obama.

    March 26, 2011 02:24 pm at 2:24 pm |
  7. Name Walter R.

    We should not have been there to lead the war. We should let the other Arab counties go first. Obama is not tell the truth to American people. We have two Air Nation Guard u it out of Illinois going to Libya the are 126th Air Refiling Wing and the 906th Air Refiling Squadron. Then at a Naval Station at Nofork the USS Bataan, USS Mesa Verde AND USS Whidbey the ship are leaving with US Marines squadrons on board. So who is telling truth?

    March 26, 2011 02:28 pm at 2:28 pm |
  8. Name Dan Byinton

    Some one has to stick up for people who are downtrodden. The world is changing rapidly,what you are doing is correct I support the direction in which your taking us.

    March 26, 2011 02:30 pm at 2:30 pm |
  9. Darrell

    Thank you...Mr. President. Although I don't favor war, I am supportive your action....God Bless America!

    March 26, 2011 02:46 pm at 2:46 pm |
  10. vivi

    good job brother obama. the fact that so many countries are involved to help libya is amazing.

    March 26, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  11. Emmy Skaddittle

    His mistake was giving in to the republican pressure to do it. you had to know they would flip once the going got tough

    March 26, 2011 02:48 pm at 2:48 pm |
  12. Dave

    Excellent decision President Obama. The thinking people of the world support you 100%. The reason for involvement represents our nations highest values & beliefs;not one of fabricated facts & vindictiveness. We should all thank President Obama for doing the right thing for the people of Libya as a responsible member of the world community.

    March 26, 2011 02:49 pm at 2:49 pm |
  13. Name joggen

    There's no justification for this war or whatever u want to call it. US,UN or NATO whoever they are...are just backing arm groups against Libyan government. We all know Ghadafi is a dictator but is not the west's responsibility to back one arm group against government.

    March 26, 2011 02:54 pm at 2:54 pm |
  14. Namematt

    I suppose if the same was happening to us you wouldn't want help from other countries either..

    March 26, 2011 03:01 pm at 3:01 pm |
  15. Hak

    And what of Syria or the Ivory Coast? Or Darfur? Just say it Bush II – "oil"

    March 26, 2011 03:04 pm at 3:04 pm |
  16. Name Joe

    I think bush was a failure if you look back iraq w.p.d. was a cover up 2 invade and evertyhing that went on bush was in on the bank failing ever thing.. buck fush...

    March 26, 2011 03:07 pm at 3:07 pm |
  17. Name

    Great job Mr. President,this is nothing like the mess from Iraq.

    March 26, 2011 03:10 pm at 3:10 pm |
  18. josh.s

    we should of left Libya alone. U.S has it's own problems. I always wonder who would help the U.S if a event like that would happen. U.S needs to stay on making jobs.

    March 26, 2011 03:12 pm at 3:12 pm |
  19. You Just Can't Win

    Obama is doing a heartfelt and accurate job as President. He waited to act amidst the uprisings in the Middle East, encouraging the leaders to take to heart what their people have demanded from their regemes. The Palins and Mc Cain's scrutinizing him to do more. However, President Obama held fast until the voice of the Lybian people and others in the region were undeniably begging for intervention. This decesion was the most compassionate and humanitarian choice possible, not for blood oil or to use our majestic millitary forces for personal vendettas– such as when Bush once admitted that a factor contributing to the initialization of Iraqi war was because Saddam, "tried to murder his father". The choice to defend Libyan citizens will lead to a more stable world because it shows the people in that region, if they are brave enough to fight for democracy and freedom they will not be abondoned. The people have spoken and this is a part of history that makes me so proud to be an American.

    March 26, 2011 03:13 pm at 3:13 pm |
  20. Name1luv

    If only president Bush had taken time to form a real coalition that also include Arab countries Iraq mission would have been completed already injustices anywhere is a threat to justice everywhere

    March 26, 2011 03:14 pm at 3:14 pm |
  21. Linda Rogers

    President Obama, I think you are doing a wonderful job..

    March 26, 2011 03:16 pm at 3:16 pm |

    First paragraph should read, "In a failed attempt to 'make the case' for Libya, the community activist turned Commander-in-Chief delivered a hilarious farce of an explanation using hyperbole, twisted logic and self-contradictions that would make the Human Pretzel contortionist very jealous indeed."

    March 26, 2011 03:21 pm at 3:21 pm |
  23. Derrick

    Qaddafi's actions against his own people were unacceptable. We as Americans cannot stand by and watch an outright massacre and call ourselves moral or right. We have stepped in with a coalition that will help share the load.

    March 26, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  24. Vic

    In Bahrain, Syria and Yemen the government is also murdering civilians, but neo-liberal Obama say nothing nor act. Are we all sure there is a difference between a "democrat" and a "republican" as POTUS?

    March 26, 2011 03:22 pm at 3:22 pm |
  25. RC Porter

    The money it costs to just bomb a country costs billions of dollars daily.Is this how we want our tax dolars spent?

    March 26, 2011 03:25 pm at 3:25 pm |
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