WASHINGTON, March 26, 2011 — The military mission in Libya is succeeding and preventing further atrocities against the Libyan people by Moammar Gadhafi and his forces, President Barack Obama said today in his weekly radio address.
Obama said that “because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians — innocent men, women and children — have been saved.”
The commander in chief credited the part played by U.S. troops in “Operation Odyssey Dawn,” which was launched March 19 by coalition forces to enforce a U.N. Security Council resolution to protect the Libyan people from Gadhafi’s forces.
“Thanks to our brave men and women in uniform, we’ve made important progress,” Obama said, noting that he faces “no greater decision” than sending U.S. forces into harm’s way. He also said the U.S. “should not — and cannot — intervene every time there’s a crisis somewhere in the world.”
Gadhafi’s brutality against innocent Libyan people, however, made the military action necessary, he said.
“When someone like Gadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region, and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives, then it’s in our national interest to act. It’s our responsibility,” he said. “This is one of those times.”
Over the past week, Obama said that U.S. and coalition forces took out Gadhafi’s air defenses and stopped his forces’ advancement across the country. Libyan forces also were pushed back in Benghazi, a city of about 700,000 people, where Gadhafi threatened to show “no mercy” to the country’s opposition.
“Our message is clear and unwavering,” he said. “Gadhafi’s attacks against civilians must stop. His forces must pull back. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach those in need. Those responsible for violence must be held accountable.”
The president said that “Moammar Gadhafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule, and the aspirations of the Libyan people must be realized.”
Obama explained that the role of American forces has been limited, and the U.S. is acting in concert with a multinational coalition.
“We are not putting any ground forces into Libya. Our military has provided unique capabilities at the beginning, but this is now a broad, international effort,” he said. “Our allies and partners are enforcing the no-fly zone over Libya and the arms embargo at sea.”
The president noted that “key Arab partners,” such as Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, have contributed aircraft to the effort.
Obama said this is “how the international community should work, with more nations, not just the United States, bearing the responsibility and cost of upholding peace and security.
“This military effort is part of our larger strategy to support the Libyan people and hold the Gadhafi regime accountable,” he said. “Together with the international community, we?re delivering urgent humanitarian assistance. We?re offering support to the Libyan opposition.”
By freezing tens of billions of dollars of Gadhafi’s assets, the needs and aspirations of the Libyan people can be better met, he said, “and every day, the pressure on Gadhafi and his regime is increasing.”
Obama said that Libyans have begun expressing their gratitude for the mission.
“Every American can be proud of the lives we’ve saved in Libya and of the service of our men and women in uniform who once again have stood up for our interests and our ideals,” he said. “And 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.”
U.S. Department of Defense
Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs)