President Obama Shows American Resolve In Libya Speech

If anyone wonders why I voted for President Obama to lead the nation the answer was found in the speech he delivered concerning military action in Libya.  Obama’s advancing of a larger parameter from which to lead the world was powerful, and essential.

I am glad that President Obama made it clear that there is a difference between values and interests. 

And that values in foreign affairs matter.

It is essential for America  to be engaged in putting pressure on Col. Moammar Gadhafi, and protecting the Libyan people.  Obama also made the  case I have argued for concerning the larger role our nation needs to play in the world. 

Operating from a moral perspective even when there is not a direct threat to the United States is one that matches our ideals, along with the expectations of those who want our deeds to match our words.

Bottom line is I am not ashamed of our power or the wise use of it. 

The reason we are now engaged with our international partners in Libya is to make sure the historic moment of democratic uprisings is not undone by the  ruthless hand of Gadhafi.  It would send a horrible message to the people in the Middle East and northern Africa if America did not put our resolve where out mouth is. 

President Obama said it perfectly.

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

I almost jumped to my feet several times to applaud certain sections of the speech.  He stated what I firmly have believed for a long time about the use of force for the betterment of others.

Sadly, we do not always employ this framework as evidenced by the slaughter that took place in Darfur.  International politics and human nature never allows for perfection. 

I am very pleased with these sections of the speech tonight which I post.  

I am one who strongly supports these thoughts having been put into action in Libya.  

Thank you, Mr. President.

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are. Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and common security — responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce. These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us, and they are problems worth solving. And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act — but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.


Born, as we are, out of a revolution by those who longed to be free, we welcome the fact that history is on the move in the Middle East and North Africa, and that young people are leading the way. Because wherever people long to be free, they will find a friend in the United States. Ultimately, it is that faith — those ideals — that are the true measure of American leadership.

My fellow Americans, I know that at a time of upheaval overseas — when the news is filled with conflict and change — it can be tempting to turn away from the world. And as I have said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring of our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.

9 thoughts on “President Obama Shows American Resolve In Libya Speech

  1. Skip

    “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.”

    So what are we doing for the people of Ivory Coast? Sudan? Bahrain? Seems to me we’re doing a very good job of turning a blind eye to them.

    Here’s Obama in 2007:

    “The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”

    Is it morally right to ignore the rule of law and for a president to attack a country in our name when he has no such authority?

  2. Skip,

    Thanks for commenting.

    I agree with you concerning Sudan, and other places you mention. I think there are examples such as these where the military could have effected change. In fact, I think there is even a was undertaken. In other words these are not random thoughts we mention about such places.

    Why Lbya and not Darfur?

    You have me as a solid convert on this one.

    The main difference is the “Arab spring” or whatever term one wishes to use, is something that we can not turn away from as the whole region appears to be in the mix of revolt and change. To abandon these elements in a most restive region even on a good day would run counter to sound thinking. Supporting future groups that might form new governments is sound policy. Gaining the national goodwill from peoples in these countries is important.

    As to the law I think it is being followed. There is always the debate about the role of Congress and the over-reach of power by the Executive when it comes to military strikes. I think the UN provides the rationale for our involvement. All timetables for notification of Congress was undertaken.

    When Benghazi was about to fall into the hands that would bring mass killings it was time to finally act. You and I get, and thankfully so, the time to ask abou the process, and ponder it all. The real world inside the White House or on the streets of Libya at this time require more leadership and decisons.

    Having said that I hear what you say with your comments, and would not not a Bush invading for the worst of reasons this or that nation. But that is not what happened regarding Libya. I think this is one of those moments when America can be proud of how we marshalled our power and used it with others around the globe.

  3. Deke, I think you are inconsistent and arbitrary in your application of principles. When it feels right to you then you support it, when it feels wrong to you then you are opposed to it. You know that it was wrong of the president to fail to publicly seek approval for military action n Libya. Informing Congress is not the same as seeking the approval of Congress.

    Regardless of the ‘rightness’ of the cause, our president chose to seek forgiveness rather than approval and you failed to call him on it.

  4. Dale,

    Thansk for comment.

    I think I have been inconsistent as I have urged action in Bosnia and Rwanda (prior to this blog) and certainly in Darfur with this blog.

    I think the President acted within the law as the events played out…..and had the same misson played out with Bush I would have stated the same.

    This military action was required to not allow for a dreadful action to take place on the ground in Libya.

    If there is any room for someone to question my inconsistenacy it might take place with my desire to see a more fiscally lean military but then always seem to have ways to use the military.

    I do not think the President be it Obama (or Bush if it were the case) need the OK of approval of Congress to take the actionb that is now occuring.

    Dennis Kucinich does not get the chance to make foreign policy decisions at this level without first winning a higher office.

    I understand as I stated before that Congress and the President have long tangled over these matters.

  5. Articel 1 Section 8 lays out who has the power to make war quite clearly. It is Congress and not the President.

    Note your comment: “ the events played out.” Congress is to declare war prior to the Presidetn taking action.

  6. Is it only war when it is declared so by the authorities? C’mon. We are blowing up tanks; we used 100+ crusie missiles on Libyan air defense systems and military targets.

    I guess we could call it a playdate but the fact is that we have declared war on Libya as part of a coalition. President Obama failed to obtain Congressional approval and should be impeached for it. The Speaker of the House is shirking his responsibilities on this issue. . Boehner supports the unitary executive approach to government and is demonstrating it every day when he fails to confront the President on this issue.

    We have a country of lesser men these days.

  7. War is a legal term when used in the context of Congress and international relations. This is not war as no one has asked for a declaration of one.

    We are undertaking a military mission in conjunction with allies as allowed for under UN Res. 1973.

    That is what it is.

    That might seem silly or lame, but words matter. This is how politics, and diplomacy, and the real world operates. I for one wanted an earlier and stronger response. I think an earlier entry into Libya airspace would have provided results all would have liked by now. No one gets all they want with these matters.

    It has been this way since the time when history started, and will continue as long as man lives here. For better or worse this is how things are done.

    This President and others from both parties would agree that Obama acted in accordance with the power he has as President. I understand some in Congress, for a number of reasons differ. That is just part of the daily grind of Washington.

    I would agree that all this seems ambiguious at times. But we are dealing with a very complex matter at hand that makes leaders test their resolve to move in a direction that needs to be taken. If we are to play ball in the Middle East we have to do so with the teams that are on the field. If we want to shape a better world that might remove some of the long-time thorns and allow for the democratic leanings to grow in that region we need to take action.

    And I might add not only a political one, but a humanitarian one.

    Look, I stand by this policy, and the way it was handled from a process point of view.. For those that do not I would ask what should have been done when Benghazi was about to fall and slaughter to be undertaken?

    Let the foreign policy guru from Ohio form a peace commission and beat drums around the world to stop the leader of Libya?

    In some way I am sure we agree Dale, and on the process point we do not.

    Still, I thank you for reading and commenting.

  8. Dale

    Yes, it is silly to say this is not a war because Congress failed to declare it one and so the President can simply bomb other countries because others wish us to do so.

    This is what is wrong with America today (among other things). I have always believed that a word and its definition were linked, as in A=B and therefore B=A.

    War = the waging of armed conflict against an enemy. So, too, the waging of armed conflict against an enemy= war.

    To say that war is not war because others do not call it so is specious.

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