Home National Politics Weekly Address: The Military Mission in Libya

Weekly Address: The Military Mission in Libya


The full transcript is here. A few key points:

*”the United States should not-and cannot-intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.”

*”Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused.  Along with our allies and partners, we’re enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council.  We’re protecting the Libyan people from Qaddafi’s forces.  And we’ve put in place a no fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities.”

*”This military effort is part of our larger strategy to support the Libyan people and hold the Qaddafi regime accountable.”

*”…people in Libya and around the world are seeing that the United States of America stands with those who hope for a future where they can determine their own destiny.”

  • Teddy Goodson

    probably because they all (including some Democrats as well as Martin Plotkin on WTOP)are still trailing the wispy mists of Empire-ism. Over and over I hear what will undoubtedly be a theme in the upcoming elections: Obama doesn’t know what he is really doing, he dithers and cannot lead, the military has no clear mission, Obama himself doesn’t even know what outcome he is seeking (“Gadaffi must go” versus the fact that desired outcome is not specifically mentioned in the UN Resolution nor in the NATO coalition agreement). They also make fun of the White House’s “belated surprise” at constitutional criticism about the President’s even undertaking the bombing decision without personally consulting Congress.

    Almost all of these criticism actually reflect a lingering conviction that America is still the world’s only imperial power, and everything we do is done in “our national interest”—- by which they do not mean our specific national interest (iold-style), but our interest in mmaintaining our empire (new-Bush-style.)

    All of these criticisms are, I believe pretty well covered in this address (except, perhaps, the constitutional criticism). It took time, working behind the scenes, to create a mixed Western-Arab coalition on what to do about Libya; open consultation with Congress during such secret negotiations would have destroyed the effort. Timing is everything. Obama and the United States are playing with the cards dealt us in the 21st century, not a fantasy game of 19th/20th century macho imperialism (“you’re with us or against us”) like Bush.

    I may  have my own misgivings about the Libyan mission, but for once I am reasonably certain that the American leader has considered all options, and their consequences, in making his executive decision. Now, that’s a relief.

  • …the answer is that you must try to both stop the massacre and then the stop the prolonged war.

    That is the decision that was made by President Obama. Whether it will save lives is something we must hope for. For now, I am willing to give him the benefit of the doubt for a limited intervention with the goal of disabling Gaddafi’s ability to wage war on the Libyan people.

    While I can make this case for a U.S. military intervention to save lives, there are important roles to be played by opponents of the decision.

    Congress should assert its authority over war powers and ask tough questions about the policy and the costs. That is a necessary part of the American system of checks and balances.

    Anti-war and pro-peace constituencies should ask the tough questions and agitate for non-violent solutions.

    Republican opponents should make their case (hopefully without partisan aims). Let the American people hear all the arguments.

    In fact, we should have a national debate about Libya — the human cost of war is too high to happen without debate.

    In the end though, the decision is more clear-cut than it looked from afar: the U.S. acted so that Benghazi would not become another Srebrenica.

    I can support that.


  • In the President’s Libya speech tonight, he’ll have to deflect critics who ask why we’re taking on Gaddafi–but not other murderous regimes. Peter Beinart on Why Consistency in Foreign Policy is Overrated.

    There are plenty of smart objections to America’s Libya intervention. But when President Obama addresses the nation on Monday night, he should rebut the stupidest one: that America shouldn’t wage humanitarian war in Libya because we’re not doing so in Congo, Zimbabwe and every other nasty dictatorship on earth.

    The consistency argument, it’s important to understand, has nothing to do with Congo and Zimbabwe. Most of the people who invoke those ill-fated countries showed no interest in them before the Libya debate and will go back to ignoring them once Libya is off the front page. Ask someone who demands moral consistency in humanitarian war how exactly they propose to intervene in Congo and you will quickly realize that the call for moral consistency is actually a call for immoral consistency. The point of invoking the horrors of Congo is not to convince the US to act to stop the horrors of Congo; it is to ensure that, out of respect for the raped, murdered and maimed in Central Africa, we allow innocents to be raped, murdered and maimed in North Africa as well. The Congolese, presumably, will find it comforting to know that the great powers are as just as indifferent to savagery in other lands as they are to the savagery in theirs.

    Right on.