Discussion in 'Black People Politics' started by Ankhur, Mar 29, 2011.
Some excerpts from the spech
Good evening. Tonight I'd like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya -- what we have done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.
For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world's many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.
Libya sits directly between Tunisia and Egypt -- two nations that inspired the world when their people rose up to take control of their own destiny. For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant: Muammar Qaddafi. He has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad, and terrorized innocent people around the world -- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents.
Last month, Qaddafi's grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. As one Libyan said, "For the first time we finally have hope that our nightmare of 40 years will soon be over."
Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people. As president, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our Embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. We then took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi's aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of the Qaddafi regime's assets.
Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.
In the face of the world's condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. The water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misratah was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques destroyed and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assault from the air.
Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime's attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.
Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without using force, the international community offered Qaddafi a final chance to stop his campaign of killing or face the consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their freedom from fear.
At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared that he would show "no mercy" to his own people. He compared them to rats and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen him hang civilians in the streets and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi -- a city nearly the size of Charlotte -- could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Qaddafi's troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out.We hit his air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight I can report that we have stopped Qaddafi's deadly advance.
In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -- nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey -- all of whom have fought by our side for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibility to defend the Libyan people.
Moreover, we have accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America's role would be limited; that we would not put ground troops into Libya; that we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation; and that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight we are fulfilling that pledge.
Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi's remaining forces.
In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role -- including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation -- to our military, and to American taxpayers -- will be reduced significantly.
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: The United States of America has done what we said we would do.
Despite the success of our efforts over the past week, I know that some Americans continue to have questions about our efforts in Libya. Qaddafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous. Moreover, even after Qaddafi does leave power, 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions. The transition to a legitimate government that is responsive to the Libyan people will be a difficult task. And while the United States will do our part to help, it will be a task for the international community, and -- more importantly -- a task for the Libyan people themselves.
In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all -- even in limited ways -- in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing concerns here at home.
To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and -- more profoundly -- our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.
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