President Obama on Libya: "Our Goal Is Focused, Our Cause Is Just, Our Coalition Is Strong"

Posted by DipNote Bloggers
March 18, 2011
President Obama Makes a Statement on Libya

President Barack Obama provided an update on the situation in Libya on March 18, 2011. The President said the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the United Nations, to protect innocent civilians within Libya and hold the Qaddafi regime accountable.

President Obama said, "Over the last several weeks, the world has watched events unfold in Libya with hope and alarm. Last month, protesters took to the streets across the country to demand their universal rights, and a government that is accountable to them and responsive to their aspirations. But they were met with an iron fist.

"Within days, whole parts of the country declared their independence from a brutal regime, and members of the government serving in Libya and abroad chose to align themselves with the forces of change. Moammar Qaddafi clearly lost the confidence of his own people and the legitimacy to lead.

"Instead of respecting the rights of his own people, Qaddafi chose the path of brutal suppression. Innocent civilians were beaten, imprisoned, and in some cases killed. Peaceful protests were forcefully put down. Hospitals were attacked and patients disappeared. A campaign of intimidation and repression began.

"In the face of this injustice, the United States and the international community moved swiftly. Sanctions were put in place by the United States and our allies and partners. The U.N. Security Council imposed further sanctions, an arms embargo, and the specter of international accountability for Qaddafi and those around him. Humanitarian assistance was positioned on Libya's borders, and those displaced by the violence received our help. Ample warning was given that Qaddafi needed to stop his campaign of repression, or be held accountable. The Arab League and the European Union joined us in calling for an end to violence.

"Once again, Qaddafi chose to ignore the will of his people and the international community. Instead, he launched a military campaign against his own people. And there should be no doubt about his intentions, because he himself has made them clear.

"For decades, he has demonstrated a willingness to use brute force through his sponsorship of terrorism against the American people as well as others, and through the killings that he has carried out within his own borders. And just yesterday, speaking of the city of Benghazi -- a city of roughly 700,000 people -- he threatened, and I quote: "We will have no mercy and no pity" -- no mercy on his own citizens.

"Now, here is why this matters to us. Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that 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 partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun. Moreover, the words of the international community would be rendered hollow.

"And that's why the United States has worked with our allies and partners to shape a strong international response at the United Nations. Our focus has been clear: protecting innocent civilians within Libya, and holding the Qaddafi regime accountable.

"Yesterday, in response to a call for action by the Libyan people and the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing, to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. It also strengthens our sanctions and the enforcement of an arms embargo against the Qaddafi regime.

"Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity 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. These terms are not subject to negotiation. If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution, the international community will impose consequences, and the resolution will be enforced through military action.

"In this effort, the United States is prepared to act as part of an international coalition. American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone -- it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together.

"That's why I have directed Secretary Gates and our military to coordinate their planning, and tomorrow Secretary Clinton will travel to Paris for a meeting with our European allies and Arab partners about the enforcement of Resolution 1973. We will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop the violence against civilians, including enabling our European allies and Arab partners to effectively enforce a no fly zone. I have no doubt that the men and women of our military are capable of carrying out this mission. Once more, they have the thanks of a grateful nation and the admiration of the world.

"I also want to be clear about what we will not be doing. The United States is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya. And we are not going to use force to go beyond a well-defined goal -- specifically, the protection of civilians in Libya. In the coming weeks, we will continue to help the Libyan people with humanitarian and economic assistance so that they can fulfill their aspirations peacefully.

"Now, the United States did not seek this outcome. Our decisions have been driven by Qaddafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people, and the potential for mass murder of innocent civilians. It is not an action that we will pursue alone. Indeed, our British and French allies, and members of the Arab League, have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution, just as they were instrumental in pursuing it. We are coordinating closely with them. And this is precisely how the international community should work, as more nations bear both the responsibility and the cost of enforcing international law.

"This is just one more chapter in the change that is unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa. From the beginning of these protests, we have made it clear that we are opposed to violence. We have made clear our support for a set of universal values, and our support for the political and economic change that the people of the region deserve. But I want to be clear: the change in the region will not and cannot be imposed by the United States or any foreign power; ultimately, it will be driven by the people of the Arab World. It is their right and their responsibility to determine their own destiny.

"Let me close by saying that there is no decision I face as your Commander in Chief that I consider as carefully as the decision to ask our men and women to use military force. Particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq, that decision is only made more difficult. But the United States of America will not stand idly by in the face of actions that undermine global peace and security. So I have taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone. Our goal is focused, our cause is just, and our coalition is strong."

You can read President Obama's complete remarks here.



March 19, 2011

John in Canada writes:

Associate with men of good quality if you esteem your own reputation; for it is better to be alone than in bad company.
-- George Washington

New Mexico, USA
March 19, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

Just on gut instict, I'd say the thing folks must watch out for is Ghaddafi doing a "Jim Jones" , koolaid escape taking a whole lot of folks with him when he martyr's himself.

Two, that Ghaddafi knows every terrorist in the world, and is in contact with most of them, even to this day.

Three, stand-off weaponry is not a substitute for eyes on the ground to do the targeting at the localized ground level to eliminate Ghaddafi's ability to make war on his people.

Meaning that "all neccesary measures" include the boots on the ground to get the job done, but not needed in numbers that would engender a description of an "invasion force" by any legal definition of the term.

Plus your going to have to have boots on the ground to secure humanitarian aid delivery in the short-term at least, to and from the recipients.

Four, that in order to safeguard the Lybian population, on all sides, Ghaddafi's ticket to rule must be punched, and the warrant served.

In essence this will also safeguard the lives of Ghaddafi rank and file loyalists who have chosen the wrong side of history to support, but may be willing to accept the alternative the international community has mandated.

Five, In love and war, it is best not to do things half-way as there's never any satisfaction among the parties involved if you do.

This should be self evident and a lesson from history well learned at this point by one and all.

Six, That the international community has set precedent for a "standard procedure" to be immediately enacted without delay in any future circumstance that demand the protection of populations, wheras that is to be determined on a case by case basis on the merits of such action in the face of crimes against humanity imminently or undeniably manifest.

Seven, Governments willing to enact reforms to placate their people's wishes must understand this can't be like the pulling of teeth for them to get enacted, lest they believe that government to be incincere in its efforts to do right by them and avoid bloodshed and ultimately their removal from power by consensus and the force of arms.

The President said that "nations must chose peace", and "words must mean something".

It's not like he's wanting to go out of his way to prove that to folks, as no Commander in Chief wishes to commit the US military to an armed conflict if he doesn't have to.

And to those who might have thought he wasn't made of sterner stuff to do so, I'd say they have their answer.


M L.
March 19, 2011

M. Labadi in Jordan writes:

Dear President, and Madam Secretary,

I would like to thank you on behalf of my whole family, in Jordan, and Palestine, and all of my friends in Jordan, and Libya, for your strong support and defence on behalf of the Libyan people.

I have lived in Libya for more than 10 years, and have come to know alot of good friends there, and I was deeply distressed with the brutality that Ghaddafi treated his people for more than 40 years, needed a strong international power and leaders so that the Libyan people could some day be free.

Maine, USA
March 20, 2011

Kelsey in Maine writes:

It will be interesting to see U.S. public opinion polls concerning this issue.

South Carolina, USA
March 21, 2011

Joanne in South Carolina writes:

Someone needs to help the Arab League and the African Union develop better regional policies.

March 21, 2011

W.W. writes:

Supreme Leader: US to suffer consecutive defeats

Tehran, March 21, IRNA – Supreme Leader of Islamic Revolution Ayatollah Seyed Ali Khamenei said in Masshad on Monday that the US will suffer consecutive defeats in the Middle East region in the future.

Addressing a group of visitors to the holy shrine of the eighth Imam of Shiites, Hazrat Ali Ibn Moussa al-Reza (AS) on the first day of the New Year, Ayatollah Khamenei said the US has shown contradictory stances on Libya events recently.

“Americans were initially shocked over the (Libya) incidents, hesitating what a sort of analysis they should present. They did not know what is happening.
They could not believe it. Since they did not know what is happening and since they did not have a correct analysis of the events and did not know the public, so they offered contradictory stances,” said the Islamic Revolution Paramount Leader.

What so far has been obvious from Americans’ attitude towards the said and other countries is their support for dictators, said the Paramount Leader, adding that Americans supported former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak up to the last moment. “When they (Americans) realized that such a thing (support) is no longer possible, they then stopped supporting him (Mubarak). This should serve as a lesson for the pro-US rulers.”

Having lost their agents in the countries (Egypt and Tunisia), Americans used two tactics: opportunism and assimilation, said Ayatollah Khamenei, adding that by the tactic of opportunism, the US tried to use revolutions in the countries in its own favor and deceive the public by voicing sympathy with them and bringing its own puppets into power. “They (Americans) failed in this case too.”

Islamic Republic News Agency/IRNA NewsCode: 30307480

March 21, 2011

Mark writes:

I agree with you Joanne. Hopefully the UN can take the lead in helping the Arab League, African Union, and other Arab coalitions develop a regional policy. If an effective regional policy is develop, then entities of soft and hard power efforts can be developed (through training and means) to better produce a desired effect in the Arab region. This will hopefully stop the use, if necessary, of using hard power (Saudi Arabia in Bahrain) to first try to quell a possible civil war when using soft power (diplomacy and other initiatives) could be possibly more effective.

New Mexico, USA
March 22, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

I'll second Joanne's assesment and suggest they might start with Cote de' Iviore.

Too many people playing dictator for a sustainable global envioronment.

My feeling is that the status quo has endangered all the good that folks have tried to do.

I appreciate the way the President has encouraged partnership and sort of ( if may be so bold as to interrpret this) relayed the notion that he'd have their back if NATO was serious, and the Arabs wern't screaming "occuptation!" over it.

I never suggested we needed to.

Lybia has become for all intents and legal merits, a UN protectorate.

East Timor comes to mind in terms of a success story.

I won't draw parallels beyond that.

South Korea
March 23, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

Nowadays, why I started, to ask me a question.

President Barack Obama, conservatives and progressives, has been criticized from both watched the news. Citizen in Libya's death, intervened in the light of conscience is that, the cause of the blame, I think. For the benefit of oil and other pressure groups were a President Barack Obama would have received such criticism personally, I think. Sake of oil, maintenance and approval, and would have helped, and Libya, for the sake of the militia, thought to have helped to progress.

Well. Stupid opinion, providing false information to the press, the U.S. military victory, the oil will return to the United States through the promotion and profit, because a different perspective to help include the militia, the ideology of progress, even if the story was fitting, but

Foolishly, Beyond this traditional approach, President Barack Obama to solve all the responsible attitude seems to be alone. Is dangerous ....

At a minimum, the Democratic Party to win the next presidential election, President Barack Obama should help someone think. This attitude makes us all in danger, I think the attitude of conscience. Conscience? Wasn't, Washington, District of Columbia, but the question is ...

We are helping the militia of Libya, Libya's dictator, beating, while preventing terrorism, democracy and economic development of North Africa, promising (solar and renewable energy development?), To open new markets, and investors, too, I think we should provide a satisfactory outcome is.

PS: Moment, scorching heat sikhimyeonseo, Gadahfi dialogue with the United States wanted, as always, arrived to talk to people, did not meet his expectations, is always keep the inconvenience.

Do, throw stones to me, humbly, will die. always live.

New Mexico, USA
March 23, 2011

Eric in New Mexico writes:

@ Palgye,

What? you think it's not in our national interests to stop a slaughter and look like hero's?

That a road filled with burnt out tanks and armor with all their guns pointed strait ahead to Bengazi isn't an indication that we just did what we said we would do, to protect populations?

People can roll in the political hay all day long, but Lybia's story is a lot like America's, born of a people taking up arms against oppression when arms were directed at them.

Goes without saying that we show a bit of solidarity.

P.S. I'd rather toss you the truth.


South Korea
March 23, 2011

Palgye in South Korea writes:

If it wins in Libya, the Palestinian people, to establish new settlements, migration to Libya say look how I wanted to talk .... A large burden on the current issue of the past'm ...


Donald M.
Virginia, USA
March 23, 2011

Donald M. in Virginia writes:

Time after time in over 40 years Col. Qadaffi has been in power, conducted terrorist operations, destroyed human lives. I praise the Obama team for taking action with the French and British. When I think in the past how three commercial jets were taken down by Libya How we lost American soldiers in a USO Show in Germany back in the mid 80s, how a British Police Officer 22 year old lost her life because of Lybian terrorists. Then received diplomatic immunity because Col. Qadaffi held up an entire British jet with passengers until the release of the two Lybians who were responsible for the death of the officer. How a Lybian woman 9 months pregnant almost boarded a plane in Healthrow, London back in the Mid 80s, carrying 12 pounds of explosives, and a timing device, she was discovered on the last checkpoint prior to boarding, after her arrest, British Authorities learned her Husband had been flying in the British Air Force.

The one thing that will always stand out about Col. Qadaffi that was how he made verbal threats to use computer bugs to attack the west.

Well done to President Barrack Obama and Honorable Hillary Clinton, Mr. Robert Gates and Admiral Myers.

Ralph K.
South Africa
March 24, 2011

Ralph K. in South Africa writes:

Hillary Clinton and the White House
23 March 2011

How do you feel being partially responsible for the pain you have caused to Libyan mothers who had their husbands and sons killed?

For weeks you, Cameron and Sarkosy have intrigued against Libya, not because you felt passionate about Human Rights or human suffering.

No, no, not that! The passion you all felt was for the OIL not the people!

I have said this before and now I am saying this again, the only interest you had was OIL, MONEY and POWER.

I think you are a very dangerous woman.

As for Sarkosy, well we know his reasons only too well.

Why don’t you invade or have a no fly zone over Yemen or Algeria or Syria?

Because they are NOT USEFUL to the West.

I am not condoning Gaddafi but what happened in Libya is a catastrophe caused by you, Cameron and Sarkosy.

He was okay; Gaddafi was, as long as he was buying war material, mustard gas and planes for billions of dollars.

And now your soldiers needed new jobs, ‘so who can we invade now?”

It’s a great pity that President Barak Obama has given in to your wicked charade.

How can he not see what you are up to?

He is bright and peace loving and not only was he landed with two dirty wars to clean up, you had to drag him into another war.

It’s all very well now saying America is handing the whole thing over to the United Nations or the European Union, after you have been intriguing everybody to be knee deep in the s*$!.

What are you doing next?

Has it ever occurred to you that you are causing World Wide Terror with your speculations?

Nobody, so far, has come up with the truth.

They are all liars, the Gaddafis and the rebels and the only thing that we know for sure is what we saw on the television, and that was journalists chasing the rebels and listening to their rubbish and pouring oil on the fire.

Any every one of the many journalists tells a different story and no one has the real story.

America must stay out of other people’s wars.

If they want to kill each other, let them.

The sooner they kill each other, the better but let it be their decision Not yours, Mrs. Clinton.


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