Monday, March 28, 2011

LIVEBLOG: President Obama's Speech on LIbya, March 29, 2011

The President will begin in a few minutes.

I don't know how I feel about the Libya situation and am eager to get a clear statement from President Obama on what is happening and what the plans are.

I do feel that, as much as I would like him to go to Congress in these kind of situations, the circumstances, especially in the House, are not conducive to quick action, which was probably necessary here.

4:32pm PST: Begins by paying tribute to the troops. Laying out all of the places we are involved, Japan, Afghanistan, Iraq, etc.

U.S. has played a unique role in the world. We are naturally reluctant to use force? Oh. Libya, Tunisia and Egypt are one region. Quadaffi has been terrible. It looked like he was going to give way to the calls of the public for him to step down. But his response was to attack his people.

We froze his assets, sanctioned him with the UN. Quadaffi had lost the confidence of his people and the President called for him to step down. Quadaffi escalated his attacks, hospitals, ambulances, civilians, journalists were attacked. Food and water were stopped.

We and our European allies appealed to the world to save civilian lives and we joined with the UNSC to stop Quadaffi's air attacks and protect the Libyan people.

When Quadaffi continued and attacked Bengazi, the world faced a choice. Quadaffi declared "no mercy" and threatened to punish everyone. We know what he is like. We knew that if we waited one more day, Bengazi would be decimated.

4:39pm PST: 9 days ago we decided to move in to stop the looming tragedy. Tonight I can report we have stopped Quadaffi's deadly advance on Bengazi.

Our coalition includes the UK, France, Canada, Demark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey as well as Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates.

This response came together incredibly quickly. It took us only 31 days to accomplish our goals. We have used no ground troops and on Wednesday we hand over power over the arms embargo and the no-fly-zone to NATO.

The US will continue to play a supporting role in the intervention.

The US has done what we said we would do.

Tomorrow Sec. Clinton will attend a summit in London to discuss the political efforts in Libya and what to do in the future to help Libyan people control their own country.

4:45pm PST: The debate in Washington has been over whether we should intervene at all, since we cannot intervene everywhere. But this is a false argument. We were faced with the prospect of terrible violence, we had the capability to stop it without putting American troops on the ground. We have responsibilities to our fellow human beings. "I refuse to wait for images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."

Failure to act in Libya would carry a far greater price than intervention.

Some suggest we should not only protect the Libyan people but also pursue regime change. I would like if Quadaffi were out of power, but this would be a mistake. The task of our forces is protection and carries international support. Also the Libyan opposition asked us to. Our coalition could not survive a goal of regime change and many more people would be killed, both Libyan and American.

"We went down that road in Iraq."

We cannot afford to repeat that mistake.

What we can and will do is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We will maintain their safety. We will work with other nations to hasten the day that Quadaffi leaves office. It should be clear that history is not on his side, but now there is time and space for the Libyans to determine their own destiny.

4:51pm PST: I will never hesitate to use our military when necessary. Sometimes the course of history threatens our common humanity: natural disaster, genocide. These may not be our problems alone, but they are important and worth solving. As the world's most powerful nation, we will be called up on to help. We should not be afraid to act.

American leadership is not just "going it alone." Real leadership creates the conditions where others can step up as well. That is the kind of leadership we have shown in Libya.

The risks are high. But the Libyan people are our friends. This change will complicate the world, change will come differently in different places. Egypt has inspired us. Iran still has difficulties.

The US will not dictate the pace and scope of change, only the people can do that. But we can make a difference. We must stand with those who have the same principles as we do. Universal rights, governments that are responsive to the people.

We welcome the fact that history is on the move and that young people are leading the way. Wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States.

We know that our own future is brighter if more of mankind can live with the bright light of freedom and dignity.

A pretty good job, if I may say so.


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