President addresses nation on future U.S. involvement in Libya

By: Tim Ciesco Email
By: Tim Ciesco Email

GRAND JUNCTION, Colo. (KKCO) - "The United States of America has done what we said we would do" -- that was the message President Obama delivered Monday as he tried to reassure the nation about future U.S. involvement in Libya. But in the aftermath of his speech, people on both sides of the aisle says they still have questions about what that role will look like.

Speaking out to critics, President Obama said Monday that military operations in Libya are succeeding.

"In just one month, the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a No Fly Zone with our allies and partners," said Obama.

With NATO forces set to take command of those operations on Wednesday, he again pledged that the U.S. role from here on out would be limited and no ground troops would be sent to the North African nation.

"In that effort the United States will play a supporting role including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications," said Obama.

"I do still have concerns about our capacity to keep this a limited engagement while meeting our objectives," said Senator Mark Udall, (D) Colorado.

Udall, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, says he has supported the President's decisions over the past two weeks. But he wants more specific information about what the U.S. will do if Libyan leader Moammar Gaddafi does not step down or if a long term civil war ensues. He says he also wants to know if the situation in Libya would detract from the country's ongoing missions in Iraq and Afghanistan.

"I have some ongoing questions that the President still has answered to my satisfaction," said Udall.

Local conservative commentator Kelly Sloan says it's the lack of spelling out a long term plan that was the downfall of Obama's speech.

"There is a very good case, very good argument to be made for being in Libya," said Sloan. "But in the absence of a clear plan and an overall national strategy guiding that plan, I can't see how we can afford to be there."

Obama acknowledged that we must always measure our interests against the need for action, but said that can't be an argument for not doing what's right.

"I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America," said Obama.

On the flip side, he also stated his case for not getting more involved.

"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," said Obama.

Secretary of State Hilary Clinton is slated to meet with Libyan opposition and coalition leaders Tuesday to discuss what kinds of political pressures the U.S. and its allies can put on the Gaddafi regime.


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