Obama Defends Libyan Military Action

In case you missed it, here’s President Barack Obama’s speech on Libya in its entirety:

With local (Democratic) reaction from the Colorado Independent:

Colorado’s senior member of Congress, Democrat Diana DeGette, expressed her doubts tonight after President Barack Obama delivered a national speech making his case for U.S. military action in Libya over the last nine days.

“Tonight the president stated his rationale for the military action in Libya, but I still have significant questions about our involvement in that country,” DeGette said in a release. “I remain eager to hear additional details regarding the causes for and the scope of our continued engagement in Libya on Wednesday, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary {Robert] Gates will provide a classified briefing to Congress.”

…Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, supported the president’s rationale, but he added that the rest of the world needs to now take the reins and enforce a no-fly zone. No Republican members of Colorado’s congressional delegation had posted statements regarding Obama’s speech on their websites as of 10 tonight.

Although FOX 31’s Eli Stokols caught up with Rep. Mike Coffman, who had plenty to say:

In [Coffman’s] view, it’s ironic that a president who, in short order, rode a wave of anti-war sentiment to a U.S. Senate seat and then the White House is now, as president, advocating — possibly even expanding — the Bush Doctrine of preemptive war he long decried.

“When you define a direction that is as interventionist as this, if this is the definition going forward for justifying military involvement, it is really open-ended,” Coffman said. “I disagreed with the Bush Doctrine. But I think this is actually even more agressive than that. This is what Obama campaigned against — this kind of foreign policy interventionism. And now he’s gone further than that, which I think is just astounding.”

…”This is clearly an act of war and it ought to require a vote in Congress,” Coffman said. “He’s calling it a humanitarian mission to get around that requirement.”

51 Community Comments, Facebook Comments

  1. allyncooper says:

    otherwise I remain skeptical.  

  2. State Line says:

    was in June of 1942 – against Bulgaria of all places? Despite more than 3 dozen military expeditions since then, ranging in seriousness from Korea and Vietnam to tiny Grenada.

    I thought Obomber’s speech was well-crafted and well-delivered too.

    This centrist Democrat still feels his foray into Libya was a mistake however. Here’s hoping it’ll turn out okay – although hope is no substitution for a well-crafted strategy, which Obomber seems to lack.

    I for one believe in muscular – preferably multilateral – humanitarian intervention in limited instances (Bosnia and Kosovo but not Rwanda) and thought Obomber made a good case for it. At least in the abstract, just not with regard to Libya.

    Did anyone else notice how Obomber sideswiped BOTH Bill Clinton – for his tardy intervention in Bosnia – AND W Bush for his crazed war against Saddam?

    • Nugget says:

      …for calling on Iraqis to rise up against Saddam and then letting them get slaughtered. For some reason, he (through Schwarzkopf) decided helicopter gunships shouldn’t be included in the no-fly zone. To me, Iraq circa 1991 (not 2003) has many more parallels to Libya today.

      • BlueCat says:

        was truly despicable and I have no idea why Bush senior never got the condemnation he deserved for getting all those people he pulled the rug out from under killed. It wasn’t just a no fly zone situation. He actually promised them back up if they rebelled, promised that we’d be right there with them, then left them hanging out to dry. He may as well have slaughtered them himself. At least, in this case, the rebellion wasn’t instigated by any such promises.  The rebellion was already happening and not in response to promises by us in the first place.

        Found the speech pretty much free of anything substantive that we didn’t know already and pretty blah all round. He made a decent case for going in but if Qadaffi’s (or however we’re supposed to spell it now) inner circle doesn’t decide they’d better off him, I don’t see how this ends soon or well.

        And I don’t want to hear anything from the Obama administration about cuts to social security benefits or medicare or “shared” sacrifice while we’re freshly involved in a new war and not talking about raising the cap or rolling back the Bush tax breaks for the rich.


    • MRSmith says:

      Might you be confusing a Diplomatic and Military strategy with a public relations strategy in this case?

      Here’s some bits from the President’s statement last night:

          “We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s 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.”

      “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 Qaddafi’s 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.”

          Both statements show Diplomatic and Military strategy in action. In this intervention, the exit strategy is quite easy: you simply stop flying planes and shooting missiles. We’re not dealing with thousands of soldiers on the ground, whose withdrawal is much more difficult, especially after a prolonged period of deployment in a foreign society.

         Counter to that, I’ve found a choice criticism by a conservative commentator which may shine some light on this argument:

          “The absolute, utter communications confusion that has come out of this White House is political malpractice,” Stirewalt said on Fox News Monday. “I don’t know about how you’re supposed to fight wars. But I have a pretty good idea about how to effectively communicate with the American people and how presidents are supposed to do it. They have botched this communications effort so thoroughly.

      “The standard is the standard for a reason: You go on television while the bombs start to fall, or within the first two days. You explain to the American people. Politically, you may choose to circumvent Congress, or you may choose to circumvent the American people, but you cannot circumvent both and expect to have an effort remain popular.”

      Stirewalt observed that ordinarily the commencement of military action is followed by a boost in the presidential approval polls, as voters rally around the commander in chief.

      “In this case, we’ve seen the president’s approval rating drop, and we’ve seen the support for this war to be the lowest of any military action undertaken by the United States in 20 years,” Stirewalt said. “They’ve botched it.”


      President Obama: Doing whats right by the people, not whats right by the pundits.

      Poor media, nobody is playing their games anymore.

    • SSG_Dan says:

      ..despite the presence of a no-fly zone, and “robust” sanctions, it did not stop the Serbian thugs from massacring 8000 Bosnia Muslim men and boys at Srebrenica. The Dutch Army unit that stood around and stared at the tree line bare some blame as well, but “Multilateral Humanitarian intervention” did not stop an war crime.

      I’m sure that Col. Gaddafi considered this incident deeply and carefully before he considered giving the same order for the city of Benghazi…

      • State Line says:

        NATO didn’t start bombing Serb positions in Bosnia until 28 August – more than a month after the atrocities at Srebrenica. (And largely because of them.)

        Which was precisely Obomber’s point last night in subtly critiquing Bill Clinton, for waiting 3 years after the commencement of Serb atorcities to get ‘muscular’.

        Even though I still don’t feel Obomber should have intervened in Libya – given its lack of centrality to American interests.

        • Ralphie says:

          Do you think you could be at least as respectful to the President of the United States as the people who call him “First Tourist?”

          You work for the State Department, right?  I wonder how your superiors feel about your disrespect?

          • droll says:

            and meaningful as constantly using his middle name.

            Oh, wait. It’s actually worse than the conservative tactic. Not something you see everyday!

          • State Line says:

            If I’m not mistaken, the mere fact I’m a public servant doesn’t mean I forfeit my right to express my personal opinions, in my own manner and on my own time.

            Know this will come as a shock to you, but there are plenty of folks at State – both above me, laterally, and below – who feel Obomber has blundered badly here.

            Laugh a little for god’s sake Ralphie, it’s healthy for you! 🙂  

            I think “Obomber” is wholly appropriate under the (airborne) circumstances



            • Ralphie says:

              to bite the hand that feeds you.

              But please forgive those of us who don’t take you seriously as a result.

              • State Line says:

                I served my country under Bill Clinton, W Bush and now (as of 10 days ago) ‘Obomber’.

                They don’t ‘feed’ me, the Foreign Service does.

                While I revere the institution of the presidency, that doesn’t mean I march in ideological lockstep with its rotating cast of characters. Heck, I’d be a pretzel by now if I tried to. 😉

                Even as a Democrat I’m still allowed (this IS America after all, not Gadaffi’s Libya) to make fun of Obomber’s foibles.

                Lighten up man! Have some fun if it’s in your constitution. Smoke a doob, Ralphie.

                  • State Line says:

                    Have a great evening, man.


                    • Ralphie says:

                      Medical or other.  Nor do I do any other illegal drugs.

                      You’ll have to come up with a more factual way to try to insult me.

                    • Middle of the Road says:

                      as much as it is condescending, which in a way is even more insulting when one “adult” does it to another. A good example would be calling the President of the United States “Barry” or “Obomber.” Juvenile. Condescending.  

                    • State Line says:

                      Ever heard of political satire?  

                    • Middle of the Road says:

                      Thanks for asking. Let me know when you start using it.  

                    • Middle of the Road says:
                    • Ralphie says:

                      about someone using drugs is not satire.

                      What are you satirizing?

                    • RedGreen says:

                      Now you’re making libelous assertions about prescription drug abuse.

                      Look, “Obamber” isn’t the height of sophisticated satire, but then, neither was half the stuff Jonathan Swift wrote. It’s satire if it pokes fun at the powerful, and poking fun at the powerful is equally as American as demanding “respect” for the president because — well, because he’s the president!

                    • State Line says:

                      Anyway, I never claimed to be a so-fis-ti-cat.

                      But I do know a good war when I see it – and Lib-yuh ain’t even close.

                    • Canines says:

                      “Donald Chump.”

                      That was awful childish of me, and there’s a billion or more reasons why the man deserves better than that.

                    • State Line says:

                      providing air support to a ragtag, shambolic, inchoate bunch of ‘rebels’ (riddled by the way with Al Qaeda and Hezbollah supporters) with no clear idea of a strategic end-state in ‘not vital to American interests’ Lib-yuh.

                      First the rebels race west from Ajdabiyah nearly to Sirte. Then (today) they’re running tails-between-legs clear back to darn near Ajdabiyah.

                      Obomber didn’t think through his little ‘not war’ very clearly before deciding to embark on it. That’s tragic on the one hand – and ripe for satire on the other.

                    • RedGreen says:

                      How about this, Ralphie? StateLine has a perfect right to call out Obama’s policies using a silly name because that’s what Americans do with their elected officials. Your questions about the “respect” he shows Obama exhibit a priggish double standard. The man and his policies are not as thin-skinned as that.

                    • State Line says:

                      of American political commentary. Not sure why others got a bee under the bonnet about it (especially on THIS site of all places!)

                    • State Line says:

                      for the record, I don’t smoke either – and I have to confess that when I was last in Colorado (last Ocotber) I was both astounded and kind of dismayed by the ‘medical marijuana’ outlets that seem to be on every other street corner. Struck me as somehow ‘tawdry’….felt like I was in San Francisco’s Tenderloin district 30 or so years ago.

                      I believe in the legalization of pretty much all drugs (treat the users if needed, tap tax revenue at the same time, and reduce organized crime violence associated with illegal drugs). But this ‘medical marijuana’ business seems like a total sham game to me.  

  3. TobiasFunke says:

    And that “but” is of the “but only if we hurry up and get the hell out of there” variety.

    I like the reasons for going in, even though I dislike war. I don’t see how we could stand on the sidelines and let people get slaughtered.

    If the French hadn’t intervened in our fight with the British, where would the US be?  

    • State Line says:

      according to SecDef Gates on Sunday’s Meet the Press – he apparently didn’t get the White House memo – “Libya is not in the vital interests of the United States.”

      Vive la France!

      • MRSmith says:

        I think you missed some meaning in SecDef’s statement when you truncated the quote. In its entirety:

        “I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.”

        Sec. Clinton’s statement goes into more detail:

        “When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the U.K., France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, ‘We have to act because otherwise we’re seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.’ So, you know, let, let’s be fair here.

        “They didn’t attack us, but what they were doing and Gadhafi’s history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests,”

        No state is an island, you know.

        • State Line says:

          that Gates was making……A resort to military action is typically reserved for the latter.

          As for all of our ‘Arab partners’, I count two (Qatar and UAE), with a total contribution of 16 (count ’em) planes. Only 4 of which have actually been deployed thus far.

          Re your ‘strategy’ remark btw: it was also SecDef Gates who said this was all being cobbled together ‘on the fly’.

        • Canines says:

          Now I’m certain that I’m totally unconvinced by this administration’s logic and actions.

  4. ProgressiveCowgirl says:

    So why didn’t he campaign for Obama? Or Gravel or Kucinich, perhaps? And where was he when Kucinich read articles of impeachment against Bush? Did he ever speak out against the Bush Doctrine? (Seriously, I don’t know. He’s so invisible as a Congressman that I wouldn’t be surprised if his colleagues mistook him for the waiter at a fundraising dinner from time to time.)

    His sudden visibility as a peace activist strikes me as something more like this:

    • Nugget says:

      …what really strikes me is that Congress is raising legitimate questions about this intervention (as they should) in contrast to when almost every Republican marched lock step with Bush on Iraq.  

      • RedGreen says:

        … not to mention more than a few Democrats.

        • BlueCat says:

          serious presidential ambitions, including HRC and Kerry, Kerry because advisers told  him that if it was a success and  he had  voted against,  he couldn’t possibly win. Many think HRC supported and never admitted it was a mistake based on what she knew then(Neither she nor Powell is credible as having been hoodwinked.  Both too smart) because a woman running for President had to be as hardline hawkish as possible.  

          The idea that nobody knew the neocons were making stuff up about those mobile labs and other stuff doesn’t hold water.  Even the public had reason to suspect as much, much less congress members.  Chris Matthews is usually just a blatherer but he was very much against going in to Iraq and constantly had credible guests at the time debunking the Cheney/Bush/neocon unsubstantiated tales.

          Polls at the time showed a large majority of the public against. Dems weren’t fooled.  The ones who didn’t vote against (quite a few did) were mainly either cowed or gave greater priority to their political ambitions than to the consequences of invading Iraq and wishful thought themselves into justifying it.  

          • Nugget says:

            I was working on the Hill at the time when Democrats caved on Iraq. I remember one night Gephardt speaking at a private event at which he urged staffers to help Democratic House candidates stand against the Bush agenda in the 2002 midterms. The next day he was standing behind Bush in the Rose Garden in support of a “bipartisan” deal on the resolution authorizing force. Putting this betrayal aside, one of my proudest professional accomplishments was helping to persuade my boss to vote against it.    

          • Diogenesdemar says:

            support for her as a candidate

            because a woman running for President had to be as hardline hawkish as possible.

            because I firmly believe that this is what she firmly beleives, and is what drives a lot of her policy stances and actions.


  5. Gilpin Guy says:

    He keeps doing things that just totally drives both sides of the political spectrum nuts.  This certainly isn’t wishy-washy check the polls before doing anything leadership.  Time will tell if it was humanitarian or not but folks won’t be able to say that a lot of people were slaughtered while he stood by.  The man is not afraid to act.  

    • MRSmith says:

      Its that terrible trait, Nuance, Mitt Romney is always complaining about. And some of that Intelligence the rest of the GOP presidential field hates.

      I’m quite glad we have a President who doesn’t confine himself to conventional wisdom.

      • BlueCat says:

        before we fall all over ourselves with hero worship, shall we?  I’m not saying it will end badly and I certainly hope for the best but it’s way too early for this level of enthusiasm from anyone but a total homer. And that speech was his most uninspired effort following a crisis yet. There will be no post-Gifford tragedy bump, that’s for sure.  Of course I realize, for a homer, that’s another good thing.  Shows he’s not concerned with polls. Uh-huh. But then everything’s always great for a homer.

        • Gilpin Guy says:

          No one liked his Gulf Oil Spill speech either but he laid out exactly what needed to be done to deal with the crisis including a commission to deal with the long term consequences and his relentless pursuit of a resolution had an effect.  Nobody is saying there are WMD or that it is going to be a slam dunk but dissidents around the world know that something happened.

          • BlueCat says:

            I can’t yet join you in your unbridled enthusiasm and unquestioning approval. I’ve got questions that have yet to be answered and, therefore, my enthusiasm is distinctly bridled.  

      • Barron X says:


        From my skewed perspective,

        his fear of ever taking a stand is how we end up, 2+ years into his administration, with Bush’s Generals still dictating our foreign policy.


  6. Ray Springfield says:

    The Comgressman knows that the War Powers Act permits action with a 90 day window of advising Congress.

    Of course the Republicans could take it up in the House, but then they would have to appear to contradict the Bush doctrine.

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