Obama: Gadhafi's 'actions have consequences'
March 19th, 2011
07:28 PM ET

Obama: Gadhafi's 'actions have consequences'

Brasilia, Brazil (CNN) - President Obama defended his decision to authorize U.S. involvement in the military action in Libya by casting himself as a reluctant warrior, saying he and other key U.S. allies had no choice but to act because of fears that Moammar Gadhafi was planning to kill more of his own people.

"I want the American people to know that the use of force is not our first choice and it's not a choice that I make lightly," said Obama. "But we cannot stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy, and his forces step up their assaults on cities like Benghazi and Misurata, where innocent men and women face brutality and death at the hands of their own government."

Obama added pointedly: "Actions have consequences, and the writ of the international community must be enforced. That is the cause of this coalition."

Obama spoke to reporters here in Brazil shortly after U.S. cruise missiles were launched against targets in Libya. In between trade talks, he got a phone update from Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who was in Paris meeting with French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron and other key allies.

Aides said Obama has no plans to cut this five-day trip to this region short because he has secure communications wherever he goes around the world and is traveling with top aides like National Security Adviser Tom Donilon and Chief of Staff Bill Daley who can offer face-to-face briefings. Obama will visit Rio on Sunday before heading to Chile and El Salvador later in the week.

In an interestingly symbolic twist, Obama authorized U.S. military force on what just so happened to be the eighth anniversary of the start of the war in Iraq. No doubt with that conflict in mind, Obama sought to address lingering concern around the world about unilateral U.S. military action.

Obama said he is "deeply aware" of the risks of any military action, repeatedly stressing that key members of the international community have come together to confront Gadhafi in Libya.

"In this effort, the United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people," said Obama. "That coalition met in Paris today to send a unified message, and it brings together many of our European and Arab partners."

A senior U.S. official also emphasized to CNN that Obama is privately planning for the U.S. portion of the military action in Libya to only last for a few days.

"In terms of the heavy kinetic portion of this military action, the president envisions it as lasting days, not weeks," said the senior official, who spoke on the condition of anonymity because he was not authorized to speak publicly about private military planning. "After that we'll take more of a supporting role."

In his public remarks, Obama again and again used the phrase "broad coalition" and also noted that he had carefully consulted with Democratic and Republican leaders in Congress on Friday, and aides placed calls to lawmakers on Saturday, before the military action was taken.

It was also significant that French planes started the military action on Saturday before the U.S. missiles were launched, as if to underscore Obama's determination to not put his administration's signature all over it.

Mindful of the long deployments for U.S. troops in Iraq and Afghanistan, he also emphasized again that he will not use any ground troops in Libya.

"As a part of this effort, the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners," said Obama. "And as I said yesterday, we will not - I repeat - we will not deploy any U.S. troops on the ground."

Obama also carefully framed the military action as an unfortunate consequence of Gadhafi's refusal to stop attacking his own people.

"Even yesterday, the international community offered Moammar Gadhafi the opportunity to pursue an immediate cease-fire, one that stopped the violence against civilians and the advances of Qaddafi's forces," Obama said. "But despite the hollow words of his government, he has ignored that opportunity. His attacks on his own people have continued. His forces have been on the move. And the danger faced by the people of Libya has grown."

It was the second time on Saturday that Obama addressed the urgent situation in Libya. Earlier, during talks with Brazilian President Dilma Rousseff, he had also stressed the broad-based nature of the coalition and his reluctant to take military action.

"The people of Libya must be protected," said Obama. "And in the absence of an immediate end to the violence against civilians, our coalition is prepared to act, and act with urgency."

An initial resolution passed by the United Nations Security Council imposing sanctions against Libya did not stop Gadhafi from attacking his own people. Therefore the council passed a second resolution on Thursday night authorizing open-ended military action by member nations, including a no-fly zone over the skies of Libya.

While Brazil abstained on the vote because of its concerns that the resolution was too broad, a coalition of the U.S. and other key allies passed the resolution by a 10-0 margin, leading to French planes firing on Libyan military vehicles on Saturday.

Obama declared that "our consensus was strong and our resolve is clear" coming out of the U.N. debate.

Topics: Brazil • Libya • President Obama • The News

soundoff (24 Responses)
  1. azar

    where was obama and the rest of the world leaders when ahmadinejad was killing iranian people in street of tehran? why libya and not iran?

    March 19, 2011 at 7:39 pm |
  2. Jay in NC

    Barry failed at diplomacy. Now he is using death and destruction to 'fix' the world problems. The blood of African children is on his hands.

    March 19, 2011 at 9:34 pm |
    • Jarvis Glenn

      Shut up. Just shut up. You need to just leave politics alone and never come back. You are an ignorant fool.

      March 21, 2011 at 9:13 pm |
      • Jay in NC

        Wow Jarvis Glenn, I must have struck a note with you. Barry did kill African children when he illegally launched tomahawk missiles into Libya. This blood will not wash off of his hands. I ask, where is the diplomacy the world was promised? I hope you have more to offer to this conversation than saying 'Shut up. Just shut up.' and calling someone a fool.

        March 23, 2011 at 8:17 am |
  3. Liz Carter in Georgia

    YOU GO PRESIDENT OBAMA, SECRETARY OF STATE CLINTON, DEFENSE SEC GATES and ALLIANCE! You've done it right! You worked out the LIBYAN military actions based on UN law regulations and resolutions. I know the LIBYAN people are happy and grateful for the defense and protection coming from the WORLD. The US can NOT be perceived as the greedy villain this time! This is a 'real' humanitarian effort, lawfully staged by the allied forces; authorized by the UNITED NATIONS. Whatever the HATERS say, YOU DID IT RIGHT!

    March 19, 2011 at 9:44 pm |
    • junior123

      I think its great why tell the world what is going to happen and get the colition troops killed. Way to go obama & Gates

      March 21, 2011 at 11:33 am |
    • Terrance Lewis

      Liz actually Sec. Gates was not for any intervention. Unlike a lot of the activity in the middle east this was an armed rebel insurection against a government that we recognize (we exchange embassies.).

      March 22, 2011 at 9:46 am |
  4. Jay in NC

    UN says Barry go kill those little black kids in Africa, yes sir right a way. Barry says, id I do good UN, did I do what you wanted. Yes Barry you a good boy. Now go on back to playing golf. We will call you when we need more black children killed.

    March 20, 2011 at 2:43 am |
  5. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, that is a funny analog; I guess it's an analog, because knowing how you think, that might be just what you believe! Therefore, I must say it's stupid; and you're hoping other pea-brained non-thinkers read it and latch on to it as their opinion also! Good luck!

    March 20, 2011 at 1:13 pm |
  6. Pretzel Logic

    Jay, what color is the sky in your world?

    March 20, 2011 at 1:58 pm |
  7. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @junior 123; that's the true. I'm sure the military brass told them that would be the best way to do it; and they must have been further reminded when they watched the 'ART OF WAR' on the HISTORY CHANNEL, the same day we went in to LIBYA. I watched for the fifth or sixth time, myself with my husband who was in the VIETNAM WAR. Deception carries big value in war!

    March 22, 2011 at 12:04 am |
  8. ereckjohan

    We conclude that the President has broad constitutional power to use military force. Congress has acknowledged this inherent executive power in both the War Powers Resolution, Pub. L. No. 93-148, 87 Stat. 555 (1973), codified at 50 U.S.C. 1541-1548 (the "WPR"), and in the Joint Resolution passed by Congress on September 14, 2001, Pub. L. No. 107-40, 115 Stat. 224 (2001). Further, the President has the constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations. Finally, the President may deploy military force preemptively against terrorist organizations or the States that harbor or support them.

    September 25, 2001



    March 22, 2011 at 10:39 am |
    • Jay in NC

      You left out a few important words, such as attack on the Untied States. But to your credit you did give a link to the memorandum. If you take the time to actually read it you will find that the memorandum opinion outlines three types of responses. All involve an attack on the United States.

      1) ... in response to grave national emergencies created by sudden, unforeseen attacks on the people and territory of the United States.

      2) ... in response to emergency conditions such as those created by the September 11, 2001, terrorist attacks.

      3) ... to respond to the terrorist attack on the United States.

      Barry said the U.S. launched strikes on Libya to keep Muammar Qaddafi from continuing his attacks on Libyan civilians not the USA.

      March 23, 2011 at 8:05 am |
    • Notfooled

      Here's a few more current ones: Google them.

      Senate Resolution 85 introduced 3- 01-2011 Senate approved unanimously.

      UN Resolution under Chapter V11 He did not need Congressional approval. So he had both approvals.

      March 26, 2011 at 5:21 am |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @Terrance Lewis; Thanks for making that correction on me. I was wrong about GATES then; I guess I was just taking it for granted that he was 'all up in that mix'! L O L! Thanks again.

    March 22, 2011 at 10:34 pm |
  10. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @ereckjohan; Thankyou for that info. With my limited knowledge of US defense/military law for executions of missions, and campaigns, I've been out here on this blog trying to give common-sense and reaonable defense for the steps the PRESIDENT took first; before our military was authorized to even go there! People were raising cane all over the blog about the US should've already been over there protecting the LIBYAN! When OBAMA was able to give the directive, they then started screaming IMPEACHMENT!

    March 22, 2011 at 10:58 pm |
  11. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @ereckjohan; that DEMOCRAT DENNIS KUSCINICH should be booted out! A REPUBLICAN would never have voiced that against a REPUBLICAN PRESIDENT, even if it was TRUE! These bloggers are double-minded chamelions! They jump on ANY bandwagon that's rattling negatively down the road against OBAMA! KUSCINICH started that tidal wave! If he's a CONGRESSMAN and is getting paid by US taxpayers, not knowing any better than that, he needs to be censured or re-evaluated real soon! It's no telling what he'd do! He's a JUDAS!

    March 22, 2011 at 11:18 pm |
  12. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @ereckjohan, please post that info under other as many blog topics as you can. Thanks.

    March 22, 2011 at 11:22 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      Liz, did you think of this? If you agree with ereckjohan assertion that "the President has the constitutional power not only to retaliate against any person, organization, or State suspected of involvement in terrorist attacks but also against foreign States suspected of harboring or supporting such organizations." then you would have to conclude that President Bush is not guilty of war crimes. The two wars were not illegal. Funny how you may have to drop your charges on President Bush to save Barry.

      March 23, 2011 at 5:20 am |
  13. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, I thought about that. However, my point is, you were so thrilled running and screaming 'impeachment' for OBAMA, that you could've kissed a goose in the mouth! YOU didn't know it! You thought you had him! Had you known it, I know you would've been so delighted to throw that info out at me on behalf of the 'illegal' (SELECTED) BUSH, months ago! 'impeachable offense'?!? Your 'wish' for OBAMA was filled with the same hate and disdain you've always announced against PRESIDENT OBAMA! DISSAPOINTING, HUH?

    March 24, 2011 at 12:47 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      No, No, No, please stop twisting my words. I clearly said if 'you agree with ereckjohan' I did not say that I did. In fact look at my post to ereckjohan. I told them the reason his reason was flawed. Just pointing out that If you all are going to use this as an excuse then you can not blame President Bush. You must be on shaky ground to have to try and attack me on this issue.

      I am still waiting for you to correct the comments you made about me and the African children. On that post I responded with my original post and proved that I did not say what you claim. Some times Liz, you tire me out. I wish you would stop playing these games of misquoting so we can make progress in our conversations.

      March 24, 2011 at 4:16 pm |
  14. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Jay, there have been times that I've rescinded, re-explained myself or even apologized to you and a few other bloggers for misunderstanding their posts! In this case, I found myself explaining my point of view as to why I thought OBAMA was slow to rush into LIBYA to so many 'blog politicians' aka haters, a so-called 30 year vet, who were saying he should've already acted to protect the LIBYAN people. If you FIRST posted in that regard on 3/19 and not before, I was wrong; but 'Blood on his hands'? No way!

    March 26, 2011 at 3:57 am |
  15. Liz Carter in Georgia

    BTW Jay, you've been wrong or mis-read many of my posts, as well as others and have responded to them indifferently. When we come back to re-explain or advise you that you must have misunderstood the point we were making, you never say 'Oh, I was wrong; I was mistaken; nor I'm sorry'! You're to superior and arrogant for anyone to EVER expect that coming from you! And I don't! Most times you come up with some sarcastic 'last word' on the subject and move on to the next topic of your critique! AN OBSERVATION!

    March 26, 2011 at 4:19 am |
  16. Notfooled

    @ Liz Carter in Georgia

    Google these--I think you will find them interesting. Enjoy.
    Senate Resolution 85 introduced 3-01-2011 Senate approved unanimously.
    UN Resolution under Chapter V11 President Obama had both approvals. He did not really need approval from Congress for UN resolution.

    March 26, 2011 at 5:28 am |