Politics & Policy

Obama Speaks on Libya; Explains UNSC, Delimits Response

Video is here. It lasts 10 minutes.

And here is everything I thought noteworthy:

President Obama began by clearly expressing sympathy with the Libyan demonstrators: “Last month, protesters took to the streets to demand their universal rights… But they were met with an iron first. Within days, whole parts of the country declared their independence from the brutal regime… Qaddafi clearly lost the confidence of his own people, and the legitimacy to lead. Instead of respecting the rights of his people, Qaddafi chose the path of suppression…”

He justified his records so far: “In the face of this injustice, the United States and the international community moved swiftly. Sanctions were put in place…”

He explained the swift move to stronger action by Qaddafi’s rantings from yesterday: “Just yesterday, speaking of the city of Benghazi, a city of roughly 700,000 people he said, and I quote, “We will have no mercy and no pity.” “

Obama slowed his speech when speaking fully of the reasons for intervention: “Here is why this matters to us,” he began. “Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe Qaddafi would commit atrocities against his people, many thousands could die, a humanitarian crisis would ensue, the entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and our partners. The calls of the Libyan people would go unanswered, and the democratic values we stand for would be overrun. Moreover the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.

The president then gave a basic explanation of what exactly was in the U.N. Security Council Resolution.

He went on, becoming more explicit about demands: “Now, once more Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed laid out very clear conditions that must be met. The U.S.,  the U.K., France, and Arab states agreed that a ceasefire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his advance on Benghazi, pull them back from Misrata, and establish, water, and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya. Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable… The resolution will be enforced through military intervention.”

He then got into the uni/multilateralism question: “In this effort, the United States is willing to act as part of a coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone. It means shaping the conditions for the international condition to work together…” He described his orders to Robert Gates to form plans with other states, and to send diplomats to Europe to organize.

“I have no doubt that the men and women of our military are capable of carrying out this mission,” he said.

He also clearly delimited the U.S. response: “I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing — the United States is not going to deploy ground troops to Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal: specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya…Let me be clear, the change that will happen in the Arab world, cannot and will not be imposed by the United States or any foreign power. “

He said there is no decision he takes so seriously as that to command American soldiers into war — especially with the wars in Afghanistan in Iraq. But, he said,  “the United States will not stand idly by in the face of events that undermine global peace and security… Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong.”

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