Obama To Address Libyan Intervention

FI OBAMA 052009 28Mar11

Even as the U.S. seeks to scale back its role in leading the international air campaign over Libya, President Barack Obama plans a speech Monday to better explain its aims and the U.S. role.

Obama, in his weekly radio and internet address, offered something of a preview of the speech he plans to delivery Monday night at the National Defense University, stressing that the U.S. should not intervene in every world crisis.

"But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like [Moammar] Qadhafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region … then it's in our national interest to act," Obama said. "It's our responsibility. This is one of those times."

He added, "Our military mission in Libya is clear and focused. Along with our allies and partners, we're enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council. We're protecting the Libyan people from Qadhafi's forces. And we've put in place a no fly zone and other measures to prevent further atrocities."

And that mission, Obama said, is succeeding with the destruction of Libyan air defenses and the pushing back of loyalist troops near the rebel-held city of Benghazi.

"Make no mistake, because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians—innocent men, women and children—have been saved," he said.

However, Obama also stressed the limits to the U.S. intervention.

"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."

He added, "This is how the international community should work—more nations, not just the United States, bearing the responsibility and cost of upholding peace and security."

Speaking to reporters prior to Obama's speech, Deputy National Security Advisor Denis McDonough also indicated that the president would not be seeking to lay out a broad based doctrine for U.S. interventions.

"We don't make decisions about questions like intervention based on consistency or precedent," McDonough said. "We make them based on how we can best advance our interests in the region."

Referring to the unrest and protests sweeping across other nations in the Middle East, he added, "We'll continue to respect the fact that each of these movements is a national and unique reaction to certain developments in their countries, and we'll try to do our best to make sure that we recognize that."

McDonough also indicated that the Administration has a clear idea of how it views the international intervention ending, though he declined to articulate it in advance of an announcement from Obama or Secretary of State Hillary Clinton.

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