Critics hit Obama on speech, but White House says he delivered
President Barack Obama gestures during Monday's speech on Libya at Washington's National Defense University
March 29th, 2011
03:45 PM ET

Critics hit Obama on speech, but White House says he delivered

WASHINGTON (CNN) – Pushing back on criticism that President Obama did not deliver a clear message Monday on the end game in Libya, White House spokesman Jay Carney insisted the speech was “very clear about what our mission was.”

Ticking off a series of U.S. policy goals detailed by the president, Carney added “what we’ve accomplished in a short period of time, the lives that have been saved, the remarkable effort to build a coalition and take action in just 31 days and now make that transition from a U.S. lead military mission to NATO lead mission.”

Carney spoke with reporters aboard Air Force One as the president traveled to New York City for a fundraiser and dedication of a United Nations building in honor of former Commerce Secretary Ron Brown.

President Obama had been under immense pressure to deliver a speech that would answer outstanding questions about the U.S. role in Libya.

White House aides said when NATO agreed to take over command and control of the mission, the transition presented a good opportunity for the president to speak to the American people.

But the conservative Heritage Foundation said the Obama speech left “Libya questions unanswered.”

“It will be no small task to build a coalition that can keep Gadhafi isolated until he is brought to justice, prevent his forces from going on the offensive and bring stability and democracy to Libya while preventing the spread of terrorism,”  wrote Heritage Senior Fellow James Carafano.

“That will take more than a speech and rhetorical reliance on the ‘international community.’ “

In his review of the president’s speech, Republican Senator John McCain said there had been a “convincing case for our military intervention,” but McCain criticized Obama for limiting the use of force when it comes to removing Col. Muammar Gadhafi.

“When the president says it would be a mistake to use military force in order to take him out of power, which is U.S. policy to ‘force him to step down,’ I think [that]  is a serious mistake,” he said.

But Carney said the military mission approved by the United Nations Security Council and Arab League does not extend to the administrations policy that Gadhafi should go.

“We are obviously pursuing a number of different means, non lethal, non military means to help bring that about,” he said.

The administration is concerned that using military power to oust Gadhafi would fracture the international coalition. So aides are focused on a scenario where increased pressure isolates the Libyan leader and leads his own people to make that change.

Topics: Libya • President Obama • The News

soundoff (15 Responses)
  1. KingDavid

    CNN says that it is grading the present Obama Administration on his campaign promises but when it comes to posting those who have an alternate plan, where is the Freedom of Speech and of the Press to talk about a viable alternative to War. As an Independent voter, I voted for Obama for President but I am among the 37% that opposes another war-now in Libya. The President’s speech today was all about a humanitarian effort to protect civilians from Muammar Qaddafi. It is time to wake up to a failed policy that stops us from targeting the Culprits. Come On! If we really wanted to protect civilians in a humanitarian effort we would stop the collateral damage of Wars that we are involved in now as long as we were involved in with the Viet Nam War.
    This is a warning to change policies and go back to the Bourne Identity or James Bond and allow the Intelligent Agencies to do the jobs we created them to do, as one Secret Agent said: “I am a Preventer-I prevent bad things from happening.”
    We must target the Culprits of Wars like: Muammar Qaddafi, Osama Bin Laden, Mullah Mohammed Omar and Saddam Hussein. Think how many Billions of dollars and lives that could have been saved if Bush and Obama would have acted as Ronald Reagan did when he targeted on Muammar Qaddafi with one cruise missile.
    We need to prevent another threat to the World who wants to start a Nuclear War and that is: President Mahmoud Ahmadinejad, the “Little Hitler” of Iran that is breathing threats against the United States and wants another Jewish Holocaust in Israel. Read their Newspapers they print them in English for an extra charge.
    What is next an electro-magnetic pulse small nuclear attack on the Continental U.S.A. from a crazy Hitler type Iranian President and Ezekiel War between Israel, the Arab nations and Russia who is using American dollars to finance the "ARMS RACE." I thank God that before the Anti-Christ is in power the "True Christians who believe Jesus as God cannot lie and He is the Way, the Truth and the Life! No One comes to the Father who is called GOD except by Christ Jesus and by being "Born Again!

    March 29, 2011 at 4:27 pm |
  2. J.V.Hodgson

    The President is operating based on a United nations resolution, made and sponsored by the Arab league that does not permit regime change or forceful removal of Qadhafi. The Republicans are demanding at least two things:-
    1) Expecting Obama to be a sooth sayer and predict the future.
    2) If you believe McCain we should be prepared to go to War with foot soldiers and ignore the Arab League, Ignore the transitional council in Benghazi, desires no military interference, and prove yet again to Muslims we are against thier religion and do what the hell we like and in this case also ignore a UN resolution, and the arab league who sponsored it.
    So then you get to the dirty politics of why Republicans are doing this:-
    a) Republicans want a full scale military war with troops and can then say look at the debt and deficit he,s creating, and he voted against war in Iraq, but chooses to fight this why!? Indecisive ,inconsistent.
    b) Per Mccain and others he is failing to lead the world ( awe shucks) but also he (boo hoo) did not consult congress on the No fly zone.Hello catch 22.
    For gods sake stop moaning Republicans and get real as to how to ensure Qadhafi is forced out without troops on the ground and start getting some respect from the Arab world and Muslims and helping reduce international terrorism.
    Republican policy ideas simply exacerbate extemist isalm and terrorism.

    March 30, 2011 at 4:12 am |
  3. Angus001

    How about answering why we are in Libya and not Darfur? (Answer is: Oil)
    How long will be be engaged in this war in Libya?
    Why did Obama go against his own words and not seek congressional approval before entering a war?
    Why does Obama act so much like Bush?

    March 30, 2011 at 8:16 am |
  4. cati

    Angus001, Just like almost everyone else, you make sweeping statements and then present no details to back them. Just exactly how do you think President Obama is "so much like Bush"?

    March 30, 2011 at 9:11 am |
    • Jay in NC

      Continued the Patriot Act, keeping GITMO open, are just tow of the changes we were promised.

      April 2, 2011 at 9:25 am |
  5. Liz Carter in Georgia

    @J.V.Hodgson, Right On! Republicans re like a bunch of selfish, kicking and screaming cry babies; pulling, scratching, snearing, and crawling around, just looking for something, just ANYTHING that could be blown up or construed as a NEGATIVE, by the non-thinkers, ill-informed, misguided, haters and racists; against ANY REAL POSITIVE! They have been trying to trick-throw this president under the bus ever since day one! They've succeeded in doing so, with the groups I just listed, but this too, shall pass!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:10 pm |
  6. Liz Carter in Georgia

    How in the world can anyone think BARACK H OBAMA is anything like GEORGE W BUSH, on anything he's done since he's been PRESIDENT? If that was true, we wouldn't be hearing all of this yelping, barking and screaming! What little we may have heard during the BUSH ERA was meniscule compared to what's going on now! That to me signifies that there's a great difference between the two! It doesn't start with OBAMAS' politics either! It started with his color, and then his intelligence! Next, he may do a good job!

    March 30, 2011 at 1:27 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      1) CLOSE GITMO
      Barry promised during the campaign that he would close GITMO. On Jan 22, 2009, two days after taking office he signed orders to close it with in one year. Said he was returning America to its moral high ground, many posters on this blog cheered for him, saying that this was what made him different than President Bush. It has been over two years and it is not closed. Recently Barry said to not expect it to close any time soon. That it may not ever be closed.

      Many Americans are now very disappointed in the President. He did not as he said return us to our moral high ground. What does this have to do with the color of his skin? He broke a promise and his own orders.

      2) WORLD PEACE
      During the campaign he said many times that he would talk to any world leader any time. Said that he valued diplomacy over war and would would bring peace to the world. He even won a Nobel Peace Price because of his diplomatic approach. Many Americans said that this is what made him different than President Bush, that Bush was a cowboy and preferred war over peace. Now those same Americans are disappointed in Barry for choosing to wage war on Libya. This feeling of disappointment has nothing to do with the color of his skin, it is all about him breaking promises.

      March 30, 2011 at 2:56 pm |
  7. Liz Carter in Georgia

    It has everything to do with the color of his skin! Many past presidents have adjusted and re-adjusted earlier views and goals, once they become privvy to the full scope of all the information surrounding issues! OBAMA is not the first and won't be the last! Oh yeah, would you like those GITMO prisoners placed in your prisons in NC? If you don't mind it, let the president know. Maybe he can close it sometimes between now and 2016. He hasn't broken ANY promises until he unjustifiably DOESN'T KEEP THEM!

    March 30, 2011 at 3:38 pm |
  8. Liz Carter in Georgia

    Many of the 'blogger politicians' were already calling the president WEAK. After all that was happening in LIBYA; the peoples' revolution, hoping to overturn their 'dictatorial' status quo, and the dictator killing his own people, we know had OBAMA chosen to sit down personally one on one with GADHAFI, YOU and everybody else who've suddenly somehow received degrees in political science and international defense security would've been standing on top of his head screaming, 'WEAK! WEAK! WEAK! HE'S A COWARD!

    March 30, 2011 at 4:12 pm |
  9. Liz Carter in Georgia

    'Return us to our moral high ground'? That was wishful thinking and hopeful ambition on his part, because he must have had a slight memory lapse of exactly who he was dealing with! His dream and desires of 'moral high ground' are quite different from those of FOXNEWS, the REPUGNANTS/TEABAGGERS, DIXIECRATS, SONS & DAUGHTERS of THE SOUTH, BIGOTS, RACISTS, and just plain old envious, sabotaging, undermining, back-stabbing, trouble-making, divisive, nasty, evil haters! That had to be ONLY a beautiful dream!

    March 30, 2011 at 4:56 pm |
    • Jay in NC

      So in other words Barry lied.

      March 30, 2011 at 6:48 pm |
  10. Liz Carter in Georgia

    No! In your words 'Barry' lied! Just in your thoughtless words he lied, Jay!

    March 30, 2011 at 9:46 pm |