President Obama addressed the nation last night, explaining why the U.S. was involved in military actions against Libyan forces, "To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -- more profoundly -- our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action."
However, Obama did say that the U.S. wasn't prepared to take out strongman leader Moammer Gadhafi:
If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.
To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.
The NY Times reports, "While Mr. Obama described a narrower role for the United States in a NATO-led operation in Libya, the American military has been carrying out an expansive and increasingly potent air campaign to compel the Libyan Army to turn against Colonel Qaddafi," and the Washington Post notes, "Obama has sought to link American values with his foreign policy priorities throughout his presidency, and the arguments he laid out in his address Monday echoed those he made on 'just war' when he accepted the Nobel Peace Prize in December 2009."
Senator John McCain (R-AZ) said he welcomed the "long defense of our military action in Libya, and I appreciate that he explained why this intervention was both right and necessary in light of the unprecedented democratic awakening now sweeping the broader Middle East," but "if our goal in Libya is worth fighting for, and I believe it is, then the United States must remain strongly engaged to force Gaddafi to leave power."
McCain's 2008 running mate Sarah Palin said on Fox News, "It proved that the 'Obama Doctrine' is still full of chaos and questions. It's dodgy, it's dubious. We're not hearing from our president what is the endgame here... With Khadafy still in power - if we are not going to oust him via killing or capturing - then there is no acceptable end state." And Rudy Giuliani said on CNN that Obama "made things even murkier than they were before... The president says our mission is to protect the people of Libya. Well, how do you protect the people of Libya and not be for regime change in Libya? Isn't the danger for the people of Libya Khadafy?" Daily Intel has a roundup of what pundits thought about the speech.
British Prime Minister David Cameron said today during a meeting of delegates, "Gaddafi is using snipers to shoot people down and let them bleed to death in the street. He's cut off food, water and electricity to starve people into submission and he is harassing humanitarian ships that are trying to get into the port to do what they can to relieve their suffering. All of us must continue to increase the pressure on and deepen the isolation of the Gaddafi regime.. He continues to be in flagrant breach of the UN Security Council resolution. That is why there has been such widespread support among the Libyan people and in the wider Arab world for the action that we're taking. It has saved lives and it is saving lives."