Operation “Odyssey Dawn” in Libya has begun. I’ve been watching coverage on the BBC. According to President Obama, “This is not an outcome the U.S. or any of our partners sought…We cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people there will be no mercy.” Obama also says, “We are acting in the interest of the United States and the world.” British Prime Minister David Cameron adds, “we have to enforce the will of the United Nations and we cannot allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.” French President Nicolas Sarkozy says, “We are doing it to protect the civilian population from the murderous madness of a regime that in killing its own people has lost all legitimacy.”
Also see Secretary of State Clinton’s statement here, in which she says that the United States is supporting “an international coalition as it takes all necessary measures to enforce the terms of Resolution 1973.” Mark Knoller tweets, “At the Pentagon, Vice Admiral William Gortney said the missile strikes intended to protect coalition pilots & Libyan people.”
From what I’ve seen so far, there are widely mixed views on both the left and the right, with many of the same people who opposed the Iraq War (at least after it started going badly, as most Americans supported it when it was going well) now either quiet or positively inclined towards this campaign. On the right, so far, Republicans in Congress have been either quiet (Boehner, McConnell) or supportive (John McCain, Lindsey Graham) for the most part. Personally, I have mixed feelings, but lean towards being supportive overall. So, what do you think of this operation?
P.S. The Libyan government is claiming this is a “barbaric aggression against the Libyan people,” and despite Libya having (supposedly) complied with the UN Security Council resolution and ceased fire. They have also referred (predictably) to the “crusaders enemy” and “Zionist conspiracy.”
UPDATE: President Obama’s statement is on the “flip.”
THE WHITE HOUSE
Office of the Press Secretary
For Immediate Release March 19, 2011
REMARKS BY THE PRESIDENT
Tryp Convention Brasil 21 Center
5:07 P.M. BRT
THE PRESIDENT: Good afternoon, everybody. Today I authorized the Armed Forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians. That action has now begun.
In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people. That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners.
This is not an outcome that the United States or any of our partners sought. Even yesterday, the international community offered Muammar Qaddafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi’s forces. But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move. And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown.
I am deeply aware of the risks of any military action, no matter what limits we place on it. I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government.
So we must be clear: Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition.
As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners. And as I said yesterday, we will not — I repeat — we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground.
As Commander-in-Chief, I have great confidence in the men and women of our military who will carry out this mission. They carry with them the respect of a grateful nation.
I’m also proud that we are acting as part of a coalition that includes close allies and partners who are prepared to meet their responsibility to protect the people of Libya and uphold the mandate of the international community.
I’ve acted after consulting with my national security team, and Republican and Democratic leaders of Congress. And in the coming hours and days, my administration will keep the American people fully informed. But make no mistake: Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world.
Thank you very much.