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President Obama on Libya

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Here are some observations from the DNC on the President’s speech and our country’s actions in Libya.  

  • President Obama made a strong case for the success of our efforts in Libya so far, and for the more limited role that America will play going forward.
  • Our efforts in Libya are succeeding.  In just a month, America has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad-based coalition, get an international mandate to protect civilians, halt an advancing army, stop a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our partners and allies.  Make no mistake: if we hadn’t acted, there would likely have been a massacre in Libya.  Because of our actions, thousands of lives have likely been saved and Gaddafi has been prevented from overrunning the people of Libya.
  •  President Obama kept his promise to limit our role.  From the beginning, President Obama said we would take part on the front end and then transition to our allies and partners.  He kept his word.  This week, NATO is taking on command and assuming the lead role in the enforcement of the No Fly Zone and the ongoing effort to protect the people of Libya.  That drastically lowers the cost and risks for the American military and U.S. taxpayers.
  •  President Obama made a strong case for why this action is in America’s national interests.  If we hadn’t acted, we could have faced a massacre that cost thousands of lives, threatened the peace and security of a critical region, set back the democracy that is blossoming, and undermined the credibility of the U.S. and the international community.  In short, failure to act in Libya would have carried a far bigger price.
  •  We can’t intervene everywhere, but in Libya, we had a unique ability to halt a massacre: an international mandate to act, a coalition that was ready to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a call for help from the Libyan people.  We also had the capability to stop Gaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American service members on the ground.
  •  The end state we’re seeking is clear: our military action is focused on protecting the people of Libya.  We have a broader goal of seeing Gaddafi go that we will pursue through other means.  We have stepped in to stop a massacre, and our allies will continue that effort.  We also will deny the regime arms, cut off its cash supply, assist the opposition, and work together with other countries to support the hopes of the people of Libya.
  •  President Obama explained why our military mission is focused on protecting civilians.  If we attempted to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would fall apart.  We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing a great number of civilians from the air.  The dangers faced by America’s service members would be far larger.  So would the costs.  And our share of responsibility for what came next.  Just look at Iraq.
  •  President Obama talked about when America will use our military power.   We will act swiftly and unilaterally to defend the American people, as we are doing against al Qaeda around the globe.  When there are situations like the one in Libya that threaten peace and security, we will work to mobilize collective action, because the burden shouldn’t be solely on the U.S.
  •  Lastly, President Obama talked about how Libya fits into the change across the region.  The U.S. can’t dictate the pace and scope of that change – it’s up to people in these countries.  But we do welcome the change that’s happening.  And we continue to oppose violence against civilians; support a set of universal rights, including democracy; and support governments that are responsive to their people.