On the ninth day – maybe a little late – President Obama on Monday evening told the American people clearly and convincingly about the reasons for the military intervention in Libya and its results up to date.
He said that Libya was a unique situation, because Gaddafi threatened a massacre on his own people. And now the U.S. has done what we pledged to do.
“In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners. To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians. It took us 31 days. “
“Moreover … I said that America’s role would be limited; that we would note put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners.”
About the future, he said that of course the world would be better off without Gaddafi.
“I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. “
It will not happen with U.S. ground forces in Libya, he said.
And with a reference to the war and regime change in Iraq:
“To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifice 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. “
With reference to events in the Arab world, he stated that America stands side by side with the changes taking place there, but:
“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.”
And about the U.S. role in the world at large, he said what might be called the Obama Doctrine:
“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings in such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of
slaughter and mass graves before taking action. “
And, he added:
“I’ve made it clear that I will never hesitate to use our military swiftly, decisively, and unilaterally when necessary to defend our people, our homeland, our allies and our core interests…. There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our 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.”