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Obama endorses military action against Libya

By The Associated Press
March 19, 2011

In this Thursday, July 9, 2009 file photo, US President Barack Obama, right, and Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi pictured during the G8/G5 summit in L'Aquila, Italy. President Barack Obama demanded Friday, March 18, 2011, that Moammar Gadhafi halt all military attacks on civilians and said that if the Libyan leader did not stand down the United States would join other nations in launching military action against him. But the president also stressed the United States "is not going to deploy ground troops into Libya." (AP Photo/Michael Gottschalk/Pool, File)

After weeks of hesitation and divisions among his advisers, President Barack Obama on Friday endorsed military action against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi, saying U.S. values and credibility are at stake to stop “the potential for mass murder” of innocents.

The U.S. military, which is already stretched thin by two wars and an expanding effort to assist disaster victims in Japan, would take a supporting role, Obama said, with European and Arab partners in the lead. He explicitly ruled out sending American ground forces into the North African nation.

A wide range of U.S. firepower stood ready, including Navy ships and submarines capable of launching Tomahawk cruise missiles with high-explosive warheads that could destroy air defense sites and other potential targets in the earliest stages of any allied military action.

In solemn remarks at the White House, Obama never used the word “war,” but that is what U.S. forces could face if Gadhafi refuses to comply with United Nations demands. It is widely anticipated that a first step in imposing a no-fly zone over Libya — a tactic aimed at keeping Gadhafi’s planes from attacking — would be assaults on the country’s coastal air defenses.

Obama offered a string of reasons for committing to military action.

“Left unchecked, we have every reason to believe that Gadhafi would commit atrocities against his people,” he said. “Many thousands could die. A humanitarian crisis would ensue. The entire region could be destabilized, endangering many of our allies and partners. The calls of the Libyan people for help would go unanswered. The democratic values that we stand for would be overrun.”

That marked a major shift from the public caution expressed until recent days by Obama’s top national security advisers, Defense Secretary Robert Gates, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and the chairman of the joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen. All had said that a no-fly zone or other military action would be a difficult undertaking tantamount to war, or that it could have unintended consequences.

European leaders have been keen to show support for the Libyan rebels, but the United States had hung back until this week.

The administration was divided for weeks over how to address the situation in Libya, which differed from other Arab revolts when it moved from a political uprising to an armed insurrection against a strongman.

Military leaders were most cautious, arguing that a rush to show solidarity with the rebels might be shortsighted. Clinton and some other top diplomats were in the middle, with some White House advisers and U.N. Ambassador Susan Rice apparently most ready to back the use of force.

In remarks to Congress earlier this month, Gates spoke skeptically of the wisdom of military intervention in Libya. He argued that because imposition of a no-fly zone would require attacks first on Libyan air defenses, the operation would be tantamount to going to war.

The Gates view seemed to resonate in the administration until the Arab League last weekend called for U.S. authorization of a no-fly zone. At that point the prevailing U.S. sentiment seemed to shift in favor of pressing for a U.N. Security Council resolution and subsequently giving Gadhafi an ultimatum.

Obama said he was dispatching Clinton to Paris for a meeting Saturday to discuss with British, French and other partner countries the next steps in Libya. The president said he directed Gates to coordinate military planning, which has been in the works for weeks while the administration pondered the ramifications of getting involved militarily while also fighting wars in Iraq and Afghanistan.

The president made no reference to a Libya’s declaration of an immediate cease-fire on Friday — a statement that a rebel spokesman said was fiction.

Instead, Obama listed a series of demands for Gadhafi, including the halting of all attacks against civilians, a stop to military action against the rebel-controlled city of Benghazi and other cities and permission for international humanitarian supplies to reach civilians displaced by the violence.

“Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable,” he said.

The president was equally clear that the U.S. would not act alone.

“American leadership is essential, but that does not mean acting alone — it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together,” he said.

Even more explicitly: “We will provide the unique capabilities that we can bring to bear to stop the violence against civilians, including enabling our European allies and Arab partners to effectively enforce a no-fly zone.” He seemed to verbally underline the word “enabling,” to emphasize the U.S. support role.

Analysts say Libya’s air force and air defense systems, while not negligible, are decrepit by Western standards and unlikely to stand up to assault.

Defense analysts said Libya’s military has been weakened by years of neglect, armed with outdated aircraft and weapons, and directed by a radar and communications system that may have limited capabilities.

They cautioned, however, that it is difficult to give an exact assessment of Libya’s military abilities, particularly in the wake of the recent uprising that saw some troops defecting and taking their weapons and aircraft with them.

An assessment prepared by the Congressional Research Service this week said greater worries could come after a no-fly-zone was in effect and the U.S. and its allies had to deal with a heavily armed populace in disarray.

“The apparent proliferation of small arms, man-portable air defense missile systems, and some heavy weaponry among fighters on both sides also is leading some outside counterterrorism and arms trafficking experts to express concern about the conflict’s longer term implications for regional security,” the new report said.

The uprising against Gadhafi is only one of many struggles being played out in the region as long-time autocratic regimes come under pressure. Protests in Tunisia and Egypt have led to the ouster of long-time rulers, and there have been demonstrations in Yemen, Jordan and Bahrain. Protests erupted in at least three parts of Syria during the day Friday, according to state television and other source

Before his public announcement that U.S. forces would join in military action against Libya, Obama met at the White House with congressional leaders of both parties to discuss his thinking.

“The U.S. military will be playing a supportive role in this action. We will not have troops on the ground; instead we are providing strategic support where we have unique capabilities to the Arab and European nations that are taking the lead,” said Rep. Howard Berman, D-Calif., the top Democrat on the Foreign Affairs Committee. He took part in the Obama session by telephone.

Speaking earlier, Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., said he believes Obama has authority to commit U.S. forces to participate in imposing a no-fly zone without congressional approval, but he expressed hope that Congress would bless the move.

If the U.S. military is ordered to establish a no-fly zone, a wide variety of high-tech weapons and aircraft would be sent from bases in Europe and the United States to shut down or disrupt Libya’s Soviet-era air defense systems and its communications networks, Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Norton Schwartz told Congress Thursday.

He said it would take about a week to establish the no-fly zone. If such a mission is ordered, he said, he expected the supersonic F-22 Raptor — a jet fighter yet to be used in combat — to play a prominent role in the initial wave. With its stealth design, the F-22 can evade radar and has advanced engines that allow it to fly at faster-than-sound speeds without using gas-guzzling afterburners.

Other fighters, such as the F-15 and F-16, would also be used, as would bombers, airlifters, refueling tankers and highly specialized aircraft such as the RC-135 Rivet Joint and the EC-130H Compass Call. The Rivet Joint is loaded with sophisticated intelligence gathering gear that allows the U.S. to spy on the enemy from the air. The Compass Call is an electronic warfare plane that disrupts an adversary’s communications.

Copyright © 2011 The Associated Press

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26 Responses to Obama endorses military action against Libya

  1. NightWisp

    March 19, 2011 at 5:35 pm

    Could this be because Quadaffi knows Obama is a muslim? Just another loose end that has to be dealt with?

    Are the rebels, Muslim brotherhood? or Al-CIA-da?

    Since Obama has done evertyhing he can to destroy freedom in the USA, one has to wonder about his sympathies for Libyan Freedom.
    Perhaps it is to liberate Libyan oil.

  2. bogofree

    March 19, 2011 at 5:48 pm

    Another week…another war.

    • Almandine

      March 19, 2011 at 11:11 pm

      another trillion dollars…

      • b mcclellan

        March 19, 2011 at 11:20 pm

        Two loaves of bread,
        one is rotten, one is fresh.
        The rotten one promises profit.
        Choice ?

  3. b mcclellan

    March 19, 2011 at 6:44 pm

    Operation Odyssey Dawn….OOD !….. DUH ?..

    That perhaps has to be the lamest and most dumb ass thing we’ve heard out of the machinations of D.C. since Operation Iraqi Liberty.
    Oooop’s, that spells OIL, a big Pool of it. Dang Rummy anywho #%^&*.

    It will take more of of our youthful scarlet grease Mr President to lubricate the wheels on this Hell bound train of nation building fools.
    Don’t look now but you draw from an ever waning supply..
    Are you posturing for your own crimson mission accomplished to save your presidency ?
    Think twice big guy, a goodly portion of the rebels don’t like us…Hack2e !

    • Carl Nemo

      March 19, 2011 at 7:04 pm

      The name of the failed Somali Spec Ops insertion was named “Gothic Serpent” Methinks a bunch of pencil necked, geek video gamers come up with the names for our costly missions; mostly all failed while the shadowy MICsters are grinning ear to ear and licking their chops as the ol’ cash register goes…ka ching..ka ching!

      Carl Nemo **==

  4. griff

    March 19, 2011 at 6:52 pm

    More War!!! Woohoo!

  5. Carl Nemo

    March 19, 2011 at 6:55 pm

    Obama, the “Unitary Executive” must have taken another ‘power hit’ on his Presidential bong…Yikes! : O

    Drones overhead, cruise missiles incoming while F/A-18 Super Hornets put on an ‘air show’ for the captive victim/spectators on the ground…!

    Yep, we be here to help you poor folk with another one of our successful ‘Somalia ops’. We be winnin’ the hearts and minds of you people in short order. Git ready for vertical envelopment by our ‘oil commando” brigade… / : |

    Carl Nemo **==

  6. woody188

    March 19, 2011 at 7:12 pm

    How many countries does Obama need to invade to lose his Nobel Peace prize?

    • Carl Nemo

      March 19, 2011 at 7:32 pm

      Or in these interesting times to be awarded a second… / : |

      Peace is war offering full employment…no?

      Carl Nemo **==

  7. b mcclellan

    March 19, 2011 at 7:34 pm

    ?????

    • Carl Nemo

      March 19, 2011 at 10:10 pm

      I see five question marks standing at attention Bryan. I’m not sure if they are linked to my post or not.

      If so, my comment concerning our modern warped sense of peace on earth and good will towards men is seemingly linked to endless ‘brushfire’ wars and engagements engineered or otherwise to keep our ‘Empire Americanus’ military personnel in a job along with MIC grinning; because if our government winds down such activity there’s nothing for these fine men and women to come home to with such massive unemployment stalking our nation.

      The way our garrison state is headed we’ll soon all be in either a uniform or orange prison garb in reeducation camps or worse.

      All the while during the runup to this Orwellian nightmare, the so-called ‘good citizens’ of this failing nation will continue to cheer on our government that seemingly has lost its steerage since 9/11. : |

      Carl Nemo **==

      • b mcclellan

        March 19, 2011 at 11:05 pm

        Twas in answer to Woodrows query Carl as to how many more. ???????

        When Obama gets around to us, he’ll be done with the last waltz around orbital crime, so being the mighty Constitutional Lawyer that he is, Miromar stands as an empty space in his library,
        the proverbial camel flying through needle eye land.
        As always it’s, we’re gonna poke ya. Now lie down.
        Poor guy has to screw with Libya,
        whilst the labia of Arabia is too sore from all our in and out.
        Esaergder..

        • Carl Nemo

          March 19, 2011 at 11:18 pm

          The ‘labia of Arabia’ or more so the ‘sphincter’ of the same? : ))

          Carl Nemo **==

          • b mcclellan

            March 19, 2011 at 11:40 pm

            Big time lack of vulcanization to boot.

            I wonder what Teddy would think of this brand of rough rider ?
            They still hung back then,
            I mean , balls.

  8. Sandune

    March 19, 2011 at 7:58 pm

    What has President Obama done to destroy freedom? I seem to have missed a large chunk of information on his actions. To me he has shown a remarkable reserve in actions to keep us out of another damn war. Obama has exactly the patients to give our enemies choices on whether they wish to survive. 90% of the American people watched as an impatient President Bush 43 pushed, lied, and forced us into a war based on a lie.

    We have not had a President since the end of the Korean war who operated a declaration of war on the rules. If we needed to define our actions in the area around Libya we should have brought the house and senate back to work and heard their reasons for this action today.

    Okay, so Americas has the reins to carry out the mission of destroying the enemy of ………there’s the rub! Are we simply destroying Islam or guaranteeing oil for America. It looks to me as if the tea party wants the self destruction of President Obama and he may be willing to give in.

    I don’t know about CHB but the American people don’t give damn what our nation does to anyone, any nation or any President. Do I dare question the religious right for backing the destruction of Islam without provocation?

    So we wait until next week to see what consequences this madness will bring. Maybe America should be a Christian only nation. The individual voters refuse to have an opinion on anything.

    Bryan, there is no Presidency to save. We hire clerks to make choices that should come from the U.S. Constitution and the Congress. The American people are too eager to blame others for the people elected by the voters. Just look at us since 2008.

    We found ourselves in 2 unpopular wars on top of a disaster in the Gulf and then an earthquake in Japan that could have some problems for all if us on the left coast. We see a new group of Republicans concerned only with women who do not want any more children at this time, Entire States want no gay marriages, no abortions and a law to prevent miscarriages.

    I wrote about the election of 2000 and had Bush 43 decided to up-grade the public schools and base them on the success of many private schools, by the end of his second term our voter base would greatly improved. Had the American parents knuckled under and brought in more information for their children to learn how to learn we might be able to look forward to better candidates. That takes time, energy and turning off the television. Okay the American people have spoken and they want to destroy the White House,.

    Every damn day I wake up to the news and realize how much better Obama as a leaderhas been rather than the McCain/Palin comedy theater. They would haver had us in many more wars without a thought as how to compromise with out enemies. Why do we have enemies? Could it be we adore the wrong God? I do not want my grandkids killing Islam.

    America needs to clear the water before one more missile is shot off and the air needs to dedicate our actions for the Constitution or for the protection of some half-smashed Christians,. They want the end of times during their lifetiume as some load of horse pucky claims they will get into heaven.

    I don’t give a damn if anyone wants to die in combat but do it on your own dollar and with your own children for your own God. Poor old America has lost all sense of reason and rationality and willl turn over our nation to the religious right who will take us down just like in the bible.

    This is not my America! This is not my Government. My America stands tall for all Americans not just the select few White Christian Straight men.

    I just used up all my energy moving back to California and there is nothing for me to draw on to move to another nation. I feel as if I’m watching a giant insane plague heading over my nation and not a single human to stop the assault.

    112 missiles were fired into Libya today. How many innocent humans and children were killed? Does it matter that many may not be Muslim?

    I have a dinner party to attend and the news of these missiles hitting humans is enough to cancel the party but I may be the only one who will mourn. Maybe if we put a video game in the White House, we can control the war games of the fools we elected. But when there is no choice running for office, there is no hope for winning anything. Fill up your pantries tomorrow as one well-placed missile coming at us will eat up the supplies in our markets. Get your gars gassed up and store some water.

    We need to analyze every human running for office including the House and Senate and hold them to their campaign promises. I registered to vote yesterday when I got my new DL and car registration. I know my congressman/woman and hope she can be trusted to keep us out another war based on lies. God damn, why can’t we discuss this on CHB? We are heading for critical mass if we go along with any candidate who wants war actions. Just look at the arseholes who are running in 2012.

    I believe in evolution and I want no more American young men and women sacrificed on the altar of some God.

    Odyssey Dawn? My God, I would not name a Derby entry such a stupid name.

    • NightWisp

      March 19, 2011 at 8:03 pm

      Go back to sleep.

    • b mcclellan

      March 19, 2011 at 8:22 pm

      Hi Sandra,
      might I say the cut of our garment is sewn with the same thread,
      but that saying everybody does it ,
      serves only to hang us all collectively.
      Hope your move has you settled and serene.
      Yours in American angst always Dear. Llamraf

    • griff

      March 19, 2011 at 10:41 pm

      Forever caught in the left-right paradigm. The underbelly slithers on despite the propaganda aimed at making the naive believe that there is a distinct difference between the two parties and their foreign policy.

      While nothing changes.

      Rest assured that we are heavily involved in Libya already. Perception is not reality.

  9. Carl Nemo

    March 19, 2011 at 9:52 pm

    I’m thinking readers might enjoy reading the specs on the Tomahawk cruise missile with its different variants. The last contract called for each to cost $600,000 but special op versions can be as much as 1.1 million a ‘pop’.

    http://www.fas.org/man/dod-101/sys/smart/bgm-109.htm

    This is Obama’s “big stick”. Armed with a 250kt nuke it’s a real crowd pleaser although the one’s used in this engagement wil have conventional warheads with a PBXN-107 composite as the explosive of choice.

    The WSJ, “Top Stories in the world said that 110 were launched Saturday at Soviet era air defense system from U.S. and British warships.

    At 600,000 a pop, the attack represents a $66 million dollar ‘investment in peace” through ‘power’…/ : | It nominally costs $500,000 per day to keep an aircraft carrier steaming about, not including additional costs once the vessels engage the enemy such as the cost of the missiles additional fuel etc.

    Carl Nemo **==

    p.s. WSJ link to follow

  10. NightWisp

    March 19, 2011 at 11:16 pm

    Griff.

    Actually . NOT one penny of income tax has ever been spent on the American people. It is colleted by a private corporation called IRS and given over to foreign bankers, by a fraudulent Corporation posing as the US government , Incorporated in Delaware.

    The 16th amendment was never legally ratified. Yet a stupid judge in Wisconsin has the vapors over a meeting acknowledged by senate rules.
    Selective justice.

    • griff

      March 20, 2011 at 8:28 am

      Preaching to the choir. It’s just a saying.

  11. rick moss

    March 19, 2011 at 11:50 pm

    People all over the world are fed up with their government and dictators.

    Wake up America. We don’t have to live like this. You have choice. Join us…

    “THE REVOLUTION HAS STARTED”

    Read “Common Sense 3.1” at ( http://www.revolution2.osixs.org )

    FIGHT THE CAUSE – NOT THE SYMPTOM

    “Spread the News”

    • b mcclellan

      March 20, 2011 at 12:01 am

      Wooden ships to sink hearts of steel. Focus……?