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Barack Obama says the 'I' word

Mark Mardell | 02:41 UK time, Tuesday, 29 March 2011

President Barack Obama speaks on Libya

In his big speech on Libya, President Barack Obama answered two big questions, left two hanging in the air, and rewrote some recent history.


He said he had ordered military action in Libya to prevent a massacre that would have "stained the conscience of the world", and would have meant "the democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power".

He said that that "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."

Having dealt with critics who say he's gone too far, Mr Obama turned to those who say he hasn't gone far enough.

He said the world would be a better place without Col Muammar Gaddaffi, but to widen military aims to get rid of him would have splintered the coalition and meant American boots on the ground.

"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."

In this, he is preparing people for what may be quite a messy period, and he warned that Libya will remain dangerous until Col Gaddafi goes, that the Libyan leader may cling to power for a while, but that his people had been given "time and space" to decide their own destiny.

This is one question hanging in the air. How far is the coalition acting as the rebel air force? It may not be targeting the top man, but is it intent on destroying his military force? How thin is the line between driving off an army that may attack civilians and destroying that army in case they do?

The other question left hanging was whether there was such a thing as an "Obama doctrine", or at least a consistent approach to intervention. On the one hand, he seemed to argue against those who said America should not police the world: "There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are."

However, he accepted that didn't mean action in every case. "It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what's right."

So he seems to be saying, sometimes you do, sometimes you don't, take each case on its merit.

But what struck me most forcibly was the determined, confident tone of the speech. Every single news conference, sound bite or statement so far by Mr Obama has stressed that the UK and France were in the lead, the Arabs were supporting, the US was just part of a broad coalition. They've been thoughtful and a little hesitant. Those were the "on the road" snapshots. This was the air-brushed studio portrait.

Now Mr Obama repeatedly talked of the decisions he took, his leadership, his reasoning for taking firm action. The fact that the US mission is winding down and that it is handing over control to Nato was in there, but it wasn't the emphasis. Now it seems as if the action has worked, Mr Obama is claiming credit. The "I" word was to the fore, and I don't just mean Iraq.

Comments

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  • Comment number 1.

    "He said that that "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."

    Since when?

  • Comment number 2.

    Two things struck me most forcibly.

    First, that the President doesn't seem to want to acknowledge that the pro-Gaddafi people currently at the receiving end of the West's bombs and missiles are Libyans too, and also have a certain right to self-determination.

    Plenty of reference to "The Libyan People" otherwise.

    The American concern over human rights and humanitarian issues seems to hinge entirely on which side a Libyan is on in his(her) country's civil war.

    Second, the end game seems, once again, to be entirely up to luck. If the U.S. has a plan, the President wasn't telling.

    Is U.S. policy now "How this all ends up isn't up to us?"

    If so, that seems very bad news to me as there's certainly no evidence that NATO, the French or the British have a plan in mind.

    But oh well: the deed is done and I guess the only proper course for the American people at this point is to cross fingers and support the now-fixed policy (or non policy) of the nation.


  • Comment number 3.

    Frankly, it was a ridiculous speech. Obama had said before that Gaddafi must go. In other words, the U.S. wants regime change. But, he said, that's not what the military coalition is aiming for.

    This is pure rubbish. The military policy must be regime change in order assure that innocent civilians won't be slaughtered.

    And, once again, there's an awkward unanswered question. If it's justified to militarily intervene in Libya in a move that's not in the vital American interest, why not intervene in Iran and Syria and perhaps in Yemen?

    Obama makes a lot of the Arab League interest in protecting Muslim civilians? Just how does that interest manifest itself - how many Arab League members are actively participating in the coalition?

    As for the reference to "I," Obam's speech tend to obsessively refer to Obama himself. The mission may be going well now. But, if it drags on inconclusively, Obama will not accept any blame for it.

    Meanwhile, the intervention sets a bad precedent unless Gaddafi is ousted soon so that other dictators realize something like this could be bad news for them too.

  • Comment number 4.

    2. At 04:38am on 29th Mar 2011, Curt Carpenter wrote:
    the pro-Gaddafi people currently at the receiving end of the West's bombs and missiles


    I am as certain as news coverage from various news organizations allows me to be, that civilians, rebels or pro-Gaddafi, are not being targeted.

    Do you have a credible source for your claims? Or do you have an axe to grind? Or did you mean to say that the pro-Gaddafi forces should be afforded the same protection from the UN resolution as the civilians they shoot at?

  • Comment number 5.


    The political goal of the US apparently is the removal of Col Gaddafi from power, but the stated UN legal goal apparently is limited to the protection of Libyan civilians. Moreover, this situation likely is under a global magnifying glass and is being viewed by many nations and factions, and so the coalition could do well by staying within the bounds of its legal authority. Granted, there could be some latitude in the interpretation and execution of civilian protection, but wholesale abuse of such authority could be noted and then used to justify factional retaliation in the future.

    As far as the "I" word goes, it appears that Libya is being evaluated within the context of similar upheaval and revolt currently occurring in the theater of the Middle East and North Africa, as by Libya and its neighbors, yet perhaps that theater could be limited in extent. For instance, Syria has of late been in the news as having its own internal, perhaps pre-civil war troubles, and Syria is part of the Middle East, too. In that case, perhaps it is better and more productive to let Syria take the lead, where apparently democracy is in the air there, too. And, let "I" be a witness to such developments.

  • Comment number 6.

    So what history did he rewrite?

  • Comment number 7.

    "... why not intervene in Iran and Syria ...?" (from wcorey at #3) He must be joking, but I will answer it anyway. Because when US vital interests are not at stake, there must be a compelling reason for intervention. It is the burden of those who would make war to define the mission and justify it. In the case of Libya, the mission and its justification can be found in UN Security Council Resolution 1973.

  • Comment number 8.

    "... Take each case on its merit." (from Mardell) Well, of course. And the United Nations doctrine of Resposibility to Protect, under which the Intervention in Libya was authorized, calls for a "case-by-case" determination.

  • Comment number 9.

    "There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are."

    War is not justified when "our interests and values" are threatened! A US President says this publicly and we sit nodding on our couches as if its not a morally bankrupt statement. We have lost our way. What are American interests? Historically, the interests of American big business (profit.) What does America value? Apparently money and power. Do profit and power justify war? YES, according to power brokers. No, according to most of us-we're told we're bringing freedom and democracy. If we were told the truth we would hit the streets like the people are doing in the Middle East. When the US government repressed us, who would establish a no-fly zone over the US to protect us?

  • Comment number 10.

    I do get a kick out of reading Mark Mardell's Obama flag waving.

  • Comment number 11.

    This comment was removed because the moderators found it broke the house rules. Explain.

  • Comment number 12.

    Odd that his high principles and noble motives are confined to major oil producers.

  • Comment number 13.

    'There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened but our interests and values are.'

    For 'interests,' read oil, for 'values,' read US bases.

  • Comment number 14.

    I am surprised by many adverse comments on Obamas policy statement on Libya.
    His decision no longer for the US to go it alone in policing the world is long overdue, and recognises that the US is no longer the unique great power.
    On the other hand, the US has obligations to the UN and to Nato.
    If it hadn't been for the absurdities (or tragedies) of Irak and Afghanistan, Obamas policy statement would have hardly been necessary, it being so obvious that this is precisely the external policy the US should have.

  • Comment number 15.

    "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."



    So why haven't we intervened militarily in Sudan?


    And why aren't we intervening militarily to stop ongoing massacres of innocent civilians in Syria? Yemen? Ivory Coast, Mr. President?

  • Comment number 16.

    All this user's posts have been removed.Why?

  • Comment number 17.

    #Asai

    "I personally believe that all American forces the world over should be brought home and the world should be left to fend for themselves"

    you would've done yourself out of a job ;-)

  • Comment number 18.

    15. At 09:45am on 29th Mar 2011, powermeerkat wrote:
    "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."



    So why haven't we intervened militarily in Sudan?


    And why aren't we intervening militarily to stop ongoing massacres of innocent civilians in Syria? Yemen? Ivory Coast, Mr. President?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    Thats been bothering me for a while, I think if you dont have twitter and facebook to constantly update us on the revolution we're not interested.

    I'm not interested in a pro-democracy struggle if I cant "like" it

  • Comment number 19.

    'He said he had ordered military action in Libya to prevent a massacre that would have "stained the conscience of the world"'






    The world has done nothing to prevent or even stop veritable genocides in Cambodia and Rwanda.


    I haven't read after Cambodia that the inaction "stained the conscience of the world"'.


    Nor do I recall having read such statements after Rwanda.



    [I won't mention French Army's atrocities in Algeria]

  • Comment number 20.

    How can Obama state America can't turn a blind eye to atrocities when
    Mugabe has probably killed, maimed and starved more of his own people
    than anyone since Hitler.

    You can fully understand why countries like North Korea and Iran feel the need to
    be a Nuclear power.

    When will the American and the British stop interfering in other countries afffairs.
    As in Iraq they have caused more problems than they have solved.

  • Comment number 21.

    Libya: Time for talking?

    Mercifully, it seems, that President Obama is able to move away from the 'Get rid of Gaddafi and everything will be fine' nonsense that we have been subjected to of late.

    The colonel is a dangerous man, it's true, but he depends on turmoil and division.

    What Gaddafi wants and needs now, is civil war.

    The spectre of many thousands of armed civilians killing each other should be our urgent concern.This would legitimize his position and discredit Western intervention, and pave the way for a protracted battlefield on the banks of the Mediterranean Sea.

    If the rebels cannot take Sirte quickly, and they may not be welcome there just now, then the time has surely come for them to withdraw to Bin Jawad and consolidate their gains, both politically and militarily.

    If NATO calls for this ceasefire then we are the proven peacemakers.

    There is still plenty of scope for further softening-up action against his forces even then, as one stipulation must be his withdrawal of troops from Misratah, Zintan and any other towns occupied under duress.

    Whether such a deal is possible is uncertain, but we should be first to offer terms for an end to the current actions.

    By calling for the rebels to stop advancing, we also save them from being pushed back, and who knows where that retreat would end?

    Gaddafi has shown himself to be a survivor and loss of face for him is far worse than any loss of 'his' people's lives.

    A divided Libya is not and acceptable end, but in the short term, it could be more than the cult of the colonel can withstand.

  • Comment number 22.

    #19

    powermeerkat,

    David Cameron used similar arguments very recently. Do they share a scriptwriter?


    We should be telt!

    >8-D

  • Comment number 23.

    Asai: As an honourable war veteran you could not have said it better. I despair for the World, we have not moved on really. Because it is in our genes there will always be dictatorships, conflicts and of course war. The human race has not moved on, only the technology has changed. Jo Citizen has no influence at all because as long as the USA and its allies choose to get involved in other countries' affairs for its own ends or even for seemingly altruistic reasons, no matter how much hand wringing on our part will not alter the outcome.

  • Comment number 24.

    #4

    adjutant,

    How do you type in italics? I haven't been able to do so since the BBC techies moved things around again.

  • Comment number 25.

    It would be nice to think that one day one could hope that some major coverage of matters North American - for our education and information here - could be instituted that was based on extensive knowledge of, an appreciation for, and honest critical appraisal around the country and its population at large.

    As opposed to a single-minded obsession with a very small segment, mostly driven by tribally-motivated PR access from an even smaller collection within it.

    Mind you, the 'sources say' tripe, with added 'opinion' dressed up as news we get from within the Westminster bubble here is no different.

  • Comment number 26.

    Actually I need the lowdown on italics, bold and all fun things u can do here, please?

  • Comment number 27.

    '24. At 10:23am on 29th Mar 2011, Scotch Git wrote
    #4 adjutant,

    How do you type in italics? I haven't been able to do so since the BBC techies moved things around again.'

    -------

    Seconded! I thought my i's and sideways triangle's were failing me.

  • Comment number 28.

    #16

    Lol, citing David Shayler as evidence .

  • Comment number 29.

    I always thought Americans don't know what they are doing and get explained after :o)))))

  • Comment number 30.

    i see a lot of the comments on Obama's speech are politically motivated. No thought has been regarded on behalf of the Libyan people or their wellbeing...i live in Africa and am fully aware of what is going on, all of you are in the cream of the world, the land of the wealthy and healthy, all you know is hot dogs an nice rides, none of you know of the oppression the Libyan people have been under this Gaddaffi....none of those who started the protests have been to any kind of military skool or training of any sort, they sacrificed themselves for their freedom, and all you guys can do is sit there and criticise the only help available to the Lybian nation...we have seen in the days leading to the unrest, people of different ethnicity being rescued from the hands of the mecenaries..Obama is on track to being a life saver...

    Now enough with the voter thought and lets all start sounding human...each one of us expects to be heard and voting is one of the rights every person living in a sovereign nation should be awarded...who has ever heard of a country being represented by a "Leader", as he describes himself??

    People, no one likes to see bloodshed, but where there is inconsiderate killing and stupidity as in the Libyan army, no man would stand there and nothing...thank you Obama for being considerate and human...

  • Comment number 31.

    Powermeerkat said (and not for the first time I think, eh PMK!: "[I won't mention French Army's atrocities in Algeria]

    - to which we can add: 'nor the atrocities committed by Algerians on each other since independence'. The massacres in the recent Algerian troubles were horrific and barbaric.

    The trouble is, we can point to almost any country in North Africa and the Middle East where the screams of tortured political prisoners are muffled in their stinking cells; where people who speak openly against their government have their families threatened and their property confiscated; and where open defiance is met not only with tear gas but with armoured vehicles, bullets and cowardly thugs with faces concealed.

    So, what must be done. One American poster in this blog wants the USA to retreat behind its borders and look after number one, and who can blame him? We are all tempted to pass by on the other side: but the world is not without its Samaritans. In the Libyan context I think that for once we are groping towards some sort of answer. The air superiority of the West is being used to support a humane UN resolution. America is not working alone but with allies including Qatar and the UAE in the NFZ.

    In the Mediterranean the latest is that 12 nations are sharing the burden of maintaining the arms embargo - nations including Poland (what, Poland in the Med? Yes, Poland!) Belgium Bulgaria - you name it.

    It just needs an act of collective political will to do something effective. To objectors over the Cambodian débâcle I would say that, well, in those days there was no Internet: just imagine the images that would have been posted. It was a country far away and little known. It's the immediacy of the image that counts these days and that is why Powermeerkat (for example) cries out against the injustice of what is happening in the other ME countries and "why aren't we doing something there too".

    With the best will in the world, our forces are limited and the USA and Europe are exhausted by Iraq, Afghanistan, and the huge financial crisis. But we have to raise our heads and take this one more step in Libya. The opposition Libyans are pro-UN and pro-West in their welcoming of our actions. That is a big plus.

    The final outcome is so uncertain: I've said before that no-one has a crystal ball but careful, limited action in the air and at sea will help demoralise the Gadaffi supporters. The opposition is aiming propaganda at Western Libya where they have many sympathisers (even in Tripoli). We may hope that a point will come where the balance will tip and Gadaffi will give up.

    What then happens in Libya with the encouragement of the USA and others may encourage reforms in other countries of North Africa and the ME. It's a big, dangerous game with Al-Queda lurking in the wings in Yemen and in some Libyan elements. World stability is in everyone's interest including the USA and they must stay involved.

  • Comment number 32.

    "...Obama repeatedly talked of the decisions he took, his leadership, his reasoning for taking firm action.....Mr Obama is claiming credit." Which is exactly correct, and Obama deserves even more credit than he's getting. If you stop, for once, the rapid-fire calculations of political one-upsmanship, and take a step up to a higher level of abstraction, you may see that he repeatedly emphasises both the limits and the responsibilities involved in being the world's One Great Power.

  • Comment number 33.

    Sounds like Obama is cashing in on what was essentially a European initiative. Is this because he feels obliged to protect the image of the USA as the chief protector, instigator and defender of democracy? Yet one sees no American flags flying in Libya. Maybe that speaks louder than any words the US president has to offer.

    Gaddafi has to go, but that's the responsibility of the Libyan people. One helps them win to allow them to determine justice, and their own future, without any influence from the coalition or NATO troops on Libyan ground.

  • Comment number 34.


    American logic
    Sen. Joe Lieberman suggested Sunday he would support military intervention in Syria if its president resorts to the kind of violent tactics used by Libya’s Muammar al-Qaddafi.
    “There’s a precedent now that the world community has set in Libya, and it’s the right one,” Lieberman said.
    Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Sunday she doesn’t expect that to happen, describing the clashes in Syria as part of a “police action” — as opposed to a military campaign against the Syrian people.
    So, Hillary, when you are shot death, does it matter to the dead person if the gunmen are police or military?
    What sort of logic is that?

  • Comment number 35.

    Any chance of a cease fire?

  • Comment number 36.

    I take Obama's speech and explanation at face value- under the circumstances, it makes complete sense to me. While the West has acted against known impending atrocity, the more quickly it backs away from anything further, the better. This will allow a thinning of the fog of war, Libyans -whether in uniform on one side or not- will be left see the man prepared to massacre them to retain power more clearly with their own eyes, and they will most likely come to act in their own interests under the weight of that understanding.

  • Comment number 37.

    Cameron and Obama aim in Libya is to bring Democracy to its people

    What type of “Democracy” are they helping to bring to the borders of Europe?
    The type of “Democracy” they practice in Pakistan where the government is powerless to take any action against extreme Islamists.
    We are aware about countries in the Far East, Indonesia, Malaysia, which have Muslim majorities but they appear to have problems coming down the line.
    When we look at photos of these so-called rebels in Libya, they don’t appear to be very peaceful. What they do look like are hard-line Islamists. And of course they have every right to practice their religion however extreme. We are used in the West with other forms of extreme religions.
    But come on Cameron, are you prepared to have another state like Pakistan on ours borders.
    Because when that happens ------

  • Comment number 38.

    Obama: "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."

    It is a fact that Israel slaughters thousands of Arabs in neighbouring countries. They slaughtered over 900 Palestinian civilians including hundreds of children (Wiki) at the end of 2008. Images of slaughter at the hands of the Israelis are readily available (Qana, Gaza, Beiruit, etc). In such cases the action taken by the Americans has always been to supply more weapons. So Obama really needs to qualify such a general statment to exclude Israeli atrocities when claiming that America cannot turn a blind eye to these outrages ... or are we witnessing a major change in US policy here?

  • Comment number 39.

    The_McCann @ 32

    Stepping up to a higher level of abstraction is exactly what is required on this subject.

    We can see that managing the world of 'united nations' is not a linear exercise, it proceeds in a somewhat disorderly fashion, so that notions of 'liberal intervention' in another countries affairs, in order to maintain basic human rights; occurs in a rather adhoc and cautious manner.

    Thus the unease from UN members such as China and Russia, who would rather not look in the mirror just now.

    Ultimately, the UN's mandate will be pro-active to the point whereby a countries leader will know for certain that he/she will be removed by UN mandate if they transgress the rules of the UN club.

    When we reach that point, it will be one giant leap of humankind and POTUS Obama is doing his bit to move it along.

  • Comment number 40.

    i dont buy that every single pro gaddafi soldier is a hired gun brought in to kill innocent civilians or that every rebel is a enlightened scholar with a quarter share in an AK47. this is now a civil war, we need to be honest about that and also honest about the fact that we are taking sides. everyone knows what is happening and knows that their elected officials wont tell the truth to avoid hard questions (they've got WMD's = we want regime change. they wont hand over osama = we want to destroy terrorist training camps and get rid of a hostile government).

    a bit of honesty would be refreshing.....

    i dont even know why i let it annoy me, you'd think i'd have learned by now.

  • Comment number 41.

    Fact is that most of the military action has been American. And it was ordered by the President directly. Without US drones and satellites, none of the air-strikes would have been so effective. And most of the early - and the critical - strikes were by the US.

    It's all made more complicated by the two wannabe Napoleons: Lord Snotty and Sarkozy. Both need to distract domestic audiences from their unpopularity with a spectacular military adventure. Gadaffi has kindly obliged by putting himself at risk. [Merkel - who's also in economic trouble - has chosen a more moderate route of staying neutral. That's a smart move.]

    Obama is wise to keep the US military leadership at arms length: it would be much safer for Libyan people if his restraint could be shared by the twin Napoleons.

  • Comment number 42.

    Its important to see what is happening behind the scenes and why for instance the UK and France were VERY keen to bomb libya and the US were less bothered but bothered enough in the end to take part.

    This is nothing whatsoever to do with protecting civilians, that is merely a ruse in order to get arab votes in the UN and to placate US and British populations by assuring them this is not another Iraq.

    The 'coalition' want 'stability' in order to protect drilling rights for BP. BP is VERY important to the UK as all our pensions are invested in it.

    So we (the UK) are bombing libya for the same reason we let megrahi out. We don't care who is in power so long as they do as we tell them. France has similar interests in north africa and does not want the fallout from this regime to effect its interests.

    The US also have interests in BP but they are less mission critical but nontheless they have tagged along too.

    If you genuinely think this is to help civilians then ask yourself:-

    What about Bharain? Why not help them?

    The answer is, it is in US and UK interests to keep the sunni royal family in power because otherwsie the shia population would side with Iran and this could threaten its neighbour Saudi Arabia which is whabbi sunni.

    So its about oil. Just like Iraq.

    On a more broad note i don't see anyone remotely caring about genocide that goes in in various other african states. Nobody cares because we have no interests in them ie: the congo.

  • Comment number 43.

    I do wonder about the logic when people talk of wars to ease the suffering of civilians. It's a non sequitur since whoever wins or loses civilians will suffer.

  • Comment number 44.

    I am pleased to see that forums such as this give the average person a place to voice their thoughts. I have been watching several news broadcasters everyday since the conflict in Libya began and I find it unnerving to hear the same negative comments about Muammar Gaddafi and his regime. Why? Because it seems very opportunistic to me, that nations which have recently had their own problems with riots (France), political fiascos (Italy), (England) and economic breakdowns (the whole world) thanks to international monetary policy, are able to spread their opinion about the "right thing to do". The question is why are "the majority of world leaders" for the change of regime in Libya? There is definitely something that our leaders are hiding from us and I wish someone with influence in the media would have the guts to finally ask a pointed question. There are so many conflicts, crisis, disasters going on at this moment....why is Libya so important that it requires all the attention of the most powerful nations in the world to band together and gang up on it. Is the disastrous earthquake and Tsunami which occurred in Japan less important than civil war in Libya? Does the millions of homeless, tens of thousands dead and multi-billion dollars worth of economic damage not warrant a humanitarian effort of similar scale to rebuild JAPAN? Do our leaders not see that Japans economic problems can and will affect our economic well-being much more adversely then civil war in Libya? The reason I ask this is because I find it ridiculous to hear that our leaders are in Libya protecting the civil rights of the Libyan people, they and we never really cared before, so why now? It's a farce and we all know it. Finally to those who believe they are free in the western world. Wake up people, do you really think being free means being able to speak your mind without being persecuted? In our societies we are able to speak our mind, yes, but the only difference is that our leaders have realized shooting us causes uprisings which are dangerous, so they have upgraded their strategies to not listening to us, or when our civil liberties are violated by their laws, they just blame the terrorist and do what they want anyway....I just hope that at least someone out there has hope for a brighter future, cause I find it hard to hope these days.

  • Comment number 45.

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

    What a Hypocrisy, when the illegal state of Israel attacks the Palestinians does the US intervene? No instead it veto’s any attempt at getting a UN resolution to condemn Israel for its actions while watching the Palestinians getting massacred.

  • Comment number 46.

    Although he explained part of his position he did not say what would happen in other countries.

    He also used the BB card

    Blame Bush

  • Comment number 47.

    Shame on western nations for their stand on greed, double standards policies and mockery.

    Thanks to WikiLeaks who brought these Political barbaric acts to surface. These so called Western, UN and International Community are not serving the people but committing unspeakable crimes and sin against humanity

  • Comment number 48.

    President Obama's speech on Libya was Brilliant, Accurate and Superb. It was particularly superb for going into great detail, vividly, on all the points.

    I find that details and vivid descriptions work much better than mere repetition in conveying information to a diverse audience.

    The speech was also beautifully delivered, in well-modulated and tempered tones and with diction and tempo that anyone could follow, even Americans with limited English (many of those) and the young.

    I am really pleased to see a Mature America emerging out of these dire events of the past months, and I sincerely hope it stays that way.

    One also has the very real sense that President Obama, who in the past has been accused of being not quite keen on Europeans, finds himself in excellent company with President Sarkozy and Prime Minister Cameron -- actually, with the now very nearly unanimous UK government -- and that this experience is bound to rub off in many other positive ways, not just on President Obama, but on many of his enthusiastic followers of all backgrounds.

    I would like once again to thank the BBC for its excellent, fast-paced and thorough coverage of all these events and reactions.

    Having read the "Vision for a Democratic Libya" published by the INC of Libya, I feel particularly proud to endorse their efforts, and I hope whatever reservations anyone else still has are definitively dispelled.

    Having sat on some committees -- never under fire -- I must say, it is an Extraordinary Achievement to produce such a document in such a short space of time, and in such circumstances.

    It is particularly gratifying that there are five women and five young people, as well as Libya's most harshly treated political prisoner (a descendant of the last king) on the Council.

    I salute the Libyans who have traveled to their native land from all around the world to fight for its liberation. It is both hard and easy to embark on such a dangerous mission. You are all Heroes in the truest sense of the word: not only making your people and families proud, but making a powerful stand for a lasting transformation not merely of the land you love, but quite possibly of all North Africa, and the Arab world.

    Considering how much of the suffering and unrealised potential in the world arises out of the frozen systems of suppression, and the intransigence of the ignorant and pusillanimous, I have genuine hope that we are standing on the threshold of a new, more just and more efficient, even-handed age for all humankind.

    I find those principles expertly articulated in the Vision for a Democratic Libya, which I hope every good person on this earth will strive to help bring to fruition.

    The first step, of course, must be to secure the success of the Liberation forces, and that will mean, naturally enough, not sparing the military units that are standing in the way of Justice & Self-Determination for Libya.

    If, after all that has already happened, these military units, whether consisting of mercenaries (possibly some from the former USSR, who might be well-trained soldiers) or of brainwashed defenders of the tyrant, continue to stand in the way of protecting the citizens of Misrata, and bringing a swift end to the operations that are causing so much suffering to the people of Libya, whose legitimate hopes and aspirations for a free and democratic state that will no longer be ruled over by a sadistic usurper of the people's prerogatives and property, are -- quite precisely --what the UN Security Council Resolution 1973 mandates must be safeguarded, then obviously they need to be at the receiving end of the next round of air strikes.

    That is neither far-fetched nor in any sense overstepping the mandate of the UN Resolution.

    And any Russian political figure who objects to the proper, just prosecution of the mass murderer hunkered down in Tripoli would perhaps like to consider sharing his fate? Because it cannot be ruled out, you know, for as long as the Pro-Q Russian Kleptocracy continues to find the Russian Government unwilling to act against it, by enforcing actual laws, and order.

    The sooner the criminal is arrested, the faster the crisis will end. Just as with any police action.

  • Comment number 49.

    ref #45
    , anotherconspiracy wrote:
    "Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different".

    What a Hypocrisy, when the illegal state of Israel attacks the Palestinians does the US intervene? No instead it veto’s any attempt at getting a UN resolution to condemn Israel for its actions while watching the Palestinians getting massacred.

    __________

    another Israeli hater, who feel Palestinians should have a free reign to terrorize people.

    Unlike Turkey the U.S looks beyond religion when supporting human rights!

  • Comment number 50.

    4. At 05:59am on 29th Mar 2011, adjutant wrote:
    "Do you have a credible source for your claims? Or do you have an axe to grind? Or did you mean to say that the pro-Gaddafi forces should be afforded the same protection from the UN resolution as the civilians they shoot at?"

    Credible source? Only the Western press for the news, and my own ears for the President's speech.

    An ax to grind? Yes. I don't think my country should be involved in the Libyan civil war. But it's too late now.

    I meant to say that pro-Gaddafi people are people too, and Libyans. If you need a "credible source" to believe that, then I don't think I can help you.

    I hope that, in the end, the President's position is justified -- but I think his reasons for that position, as stated so far, are weak and no justification for killing.

  • Comment number 51.

    30. At 11:13am on 29th Mar 2011, Lebooza wrote:

    i see a lot of the comments on Obama's speech are politically motivated. No thought has been regarded on behalf of the Libyan people or their wellbeing...i live in Africa and am fully aware of what is going on, all of you are in the cream of the world, the land of the wealthy and healthy, all you know is hot dogs an nice rides, none of you know of the oppression the Libyan people have been under this Gaddaffi....none of those who started the protests have been to any kind of military skool or training of any sort, they sacrificed themselves for their freedom, and all you guys can do is sit there and criticise the only help available to the Lybian nation...we have seen in days leading to the unrest, people of different ethnicity being rescued from the hands of the mecenaries..Obama is on track to being a life saver...


    You see how we Africans be stupid sometimes ain't you in Africa hearing and seeing it in your local television stations what is going on in Sudan, Zimbabwe,Ivory cost etc going to war, leaders killing civilians, are they blind or is because most of those countries are having black skin and not rich of Oil ... A real African ll never speak as you speak .... which part of Africa are you from if may ask??? Let us be fair to ourselves at least ones ...

  • Comment number 52.

    Obama said HE had ordered military action in Libya to
    - prevent a massacre that would have "stained the conscience of the world", and
    - would have meant "the democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship...
    LIES.
    Person by person the Libyan CITIZENS are better educated, better paid and normally more than American Persons.
    Obama said some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries - well, Obama better hope so, or has he forgotten Abu Gharib, Guantanamo, the use of depleted uranium on all warheads in Iraq and most everywhere else the Americansa have fought, the blind eye to Palestinian suffering...
    As president, slaughter and mass graves have never seemed to bother his administration before.
    The world will NOT be a better place without Col Muammar Gaddaffi.
    Why?
    Because this so-called crazy mad-dog is the bullwark against the north-east Al Qaeda extremists; you know, the extremists that are trying to take over Libya, and for the most part are too ashamed or scared to speak their own names.
    The questions that the publuc (epsecially the media) should be asking are:
    Who are these rebels?
    What do they want?
    And will the world be better off should the rebels win?
    Answers:
    These rebels are Islamic extremists, highly concentrated in the northeast of Libya.
    They want to oust all Arabian Leaders and dictators because they see this leadersip as not in total fulfilment of the Koran i.e. not orthodox enough. They abhor the west and its values.
    If the rebels win, unless you lean towards Islamic extremism, the west can only lose.
    The west is making a serious mistake in taking sides in this rebellion; what's more it is supporting the wrong side - the side of those that would spit on an westerner before killing him.
    Obama has not a clue where his foreign policy should be going; he is all over the map, except where American intervention may truly assist, like Bahrain & Yemen.
    Does he even realize how ignorant he sounds when he speaks about the atrocities of Gaddafi vs the atrocities of the American leadership?
    Wary of another Iraq, Obama seems to have set American limits in Libya.
    More than a week after ordering the most massive air strikes since the “shock and awe” (Iraq war, 2003), Barack Obama told Americans Monday that war in Libya isn’t about toppling its brutal dictator (really? Targeting shows differently.) or threatening other Arab despots with military intervention.
    The war that started with 124 US cruise missiles slamming into Libyan targets, was restricted to (Don't laugh now!) "protecting civilians" from Moammar Gadhafi’s vengeance. Mr. Obama added in a televised speech, the US military will now play a reduced and supporting role in ongoing air strikes...unless things start to go against so-called American interests.
    Whether British, French and Canadian warplanes will continue to attack Col. Gadhafi’s remaining armoured vehicles, in effect tipping the military balance in favour of the rebels, remains unclear, but I can only hope that some western leaders comes to their right mind" These rebels are no Libyan freerdom fighters. THEY ARE ISLAMIC EXTREMISTS, and this is like arming the Afghanistan Muhadeen all over again.
    Wake up!
    The President said that the onslaught of US air power thwarted Col. Gadhafi’s threatened attack on the rebel-held city of Benghazi. “We have accomplished these objectives,” he said, of saving Benghazi, giving time for other allied partners to commit forces and for NATO to agree to take over command and control.
    But Benghazi is a hub of ulra-orthodox Muslim extremists. What the Heck is the US doing supporting Muslim extremists?
    America’s “closest allies – nations such as the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece and Turkey – all of whom have fought by our side for decades,” will increasingly take over the combat role as US warplanes and warships are taken out of the fray.
    Egads! What is the west doing? Did it not have enough of Ben Laden?
    “There is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gadhafi out of power,” Mr. Obama told the National Defense University in Washington, DC. “I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.” Well, there you have it: a clear vision of Obama's foreign policy. Are you scared yet? You should be.
    Mr. Obama said the running of the war will be handed over Wednesday to NATO, where a Canadian air force general will command the multinational task force. The Canadian, Lieutenant-General Charlie Bouchard, reports to an American, Admiral James Stavridis, who is NATO’s supreme allied commander in Europe.
    In his 30-minute speech, the President laid out the more modest outlines of an “Obama doctrine” replete with caution and high priorities on shared responsibilities and shared costs.
    So, why Libya?
    Why not Syria, Jordan, Yemen, Bahrain...
    Could it be, mught it be; THE SWEET LIBYAN CRUDE AND IF SO AT WHAT PRICE HAS THE CALOTION OF THE WILLING paid - not Gaddafi - but Muslim extremists.
    This policy is so dumb that I cannot believe it has come from Obama or his administration...or his intelligence.

  • Comment number 53.

    Re: bold, italics, etc.

    Suggestion for mods and/or developers: Could we have a set of buttons at the top of the text box which inserts code for bold and italics, as well as the code to insert a link that appears as text?

    Also, given the frequency with which posters here quote each others' posts, a button which would allow us to insert quoted text that displays differently (indented or italic, etc.) would be most helpful. It is sometimes difficult to tell where a post's quoted text ends and the new, original post begins, unless the poster indicates this point by manually inserting a line of characters (dashes, etc).

    I hope these suggestions will be considered with the aim of making these excellent blogs easier to read and use.

  • Comment number 54.

    I'd be happy to see Gaddaffi gone,(by the way how many different spellings of his name are out there??)
    The really weird thing,bizarre actually, is that I find myself in some agreement with Louis Farrakhan of all people.He also asked the question why we didn't intervene in Rwanda.
    Maybe we should liberate North Korea? Or did we already try that?

  • Comment number 55.

    "42. At 12:42pm on 29th Mar 2011, bigsammyb wrote:
    So we (the UK) are bombing libya for the same reason we let megrahi out. We don't care who is in power so long as they do as we tell them...So its about oil. Just like Iraq."

    Sorry but your "it's only about oil" argument doesn't make logical sense. The UK has been buying oil from Libya for a number of years now, if access to Libyan oil supplies was our only concern we would have sided with Gaddafi, turned a blind eye to him doing whatever he thought he needed to in order to put down the rebellion and carried on buying from him.
    By siding so publicly with the rebels we've actually jeopardised our oil supply as we are now reliant on them winning and signing new trade agreements when they take power. If Gaddafi should win now then we can kiss any trade with Libya goodbye for the next couple of decades.

  • Comment number 56.

    #37 I quote: "When we look at photos of these so-called rebels in Libya, they don’t appear to be very peaceful. What they do look like are hard-line Islamists."

    Why didn't you go on to say: "Some of them have beards and look as if they live somewhere very hot. And they turn to Mecca to pray. They all look the same these people."

    I can't see how you can tell if someone is an extremist by looking at them. If I had to face the Gadaffi forces I too would be shouting loud to keep my spirits up, and looking as fierce as I could (which isn't very).

    There may be extremists among the rebels but they could just as well be the quiet ones with sunnies on.

  • Comment number 57.

    "This is one question hanging in the air. How far is the coalition acting as the rebel air force?"


    About 90 dollars a barrel, I would estimate. That's how far.


    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_bi_ge/oil_prices

  • Comment number 58.

    What are the differences between Mr Obama of US, Mr Cameron of Uk ,Mr Sarkozy of FRANCE , Mr Gbagbo of IVORY COAST, Mr Mugabe of ZIMBABWE and Mr Gaddafi of LIBYA... do they have some differences, are they all not the same, killing civilians ??? So if the world want to get rid of Gaddafi the make they rid of those people too because they have the same motives and goals if life as Leaders...

  • Comment number 59.

    I liked the "usurper" best.

    :o)))))))))))))))

  • Comment number 60.

    Since everyone that matters is in London today, it would make sense for the African Union and Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon to discuss what sanctions etc. are necessary to ensure that the votes of the people of the Ivory Coast are respected, and Gbagbo leaves. This is a regional crisis, and one that ideally ought to be dealt with by the most responsible bodies & persons from that part of the world -- with UN support, of course.

    No one is suggesting a Libya-style intervention; still, all kinds of effective measures exist, including measures available through commercial and financial institutions, and these should be brought to bear.

    I am convinced that the terrible suffering Africans witnessed during the Rwanda genocide, and other events (such as the Sudanese, Congolese lawlessness & brutality), might well have been curtailed had the world at the time possessed such resources, leaders and broad consensus as it does today.

    We should not squander this consensus for basic justice and reasonable processes, but make sure every criminally-inclined "ruler" out there understands: Times Have Changed. Adapt, or become obsolete.

  • Comment number 61.

    18. At 09:58am on 29th mar 2011, Daniel_Archer wrote:
    15. At 09:45am on 29th Mar 2011, powermeerkat wrote:
    "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."



    So why haven't we intervened militarily in Sudan?


    And why aren't we intervening militarily to stop ongoing massacres of innocent civilians in Syria? Yemen? Ivory Coast, Mr. President?

    -------------------------------------------------------------------------------


    "Thats been bothering me for a while, I think if you dont have twitter and facebook to constantly update us on the revolution we're not interested.

    I'm not interested in a pro-democracy struggle if I cant "like" it"




    Fair enough. :-)

  • Comment number 62.

    "And any Russian political figure who objects to the proper, just prosecution of the mass murderer hunkered down in Tripoli would perhaps like to consider sharing his fate?"

    Perhaps Russian IT guys should also start making computer games where good Russians liberate politically brain-washed people of the United States and Great Britain, with surgical bomb hits on their otherwise unsuspecting any harm :o)))))))))) territories, and movie-makers get employed in producing the like films!
    For some have clearly watched too much to become that winded up.
    I'm not an admirer of our powers :o)))))), to put it softly, but will personally go to the partisans ... wonder how will I look.... will I pass on a picture for a militant? say with a kitchen knife I might! :o)))))) Oh well we'll remember Molotov cocktail recepies then.... Serving teas with polonium in occupants' restaurants :o))))))))) is also an option. some suchi :o)))))) these days
    - if someone from outside just dares to touch our OWN president dear prime minister :o)))))) and other eh anyway worthy blokes. For they , from such a point on, don't mean any thing by themselves, all sins will be forgotten within a second. they belong to the country, and it is Russia's business. how to say.

    Jesus christ where can a Russian go to what to do. with such Westerners abroad on a contrast local monsters start looking actually alright.

  • Comment number 63.

    mscracker asks: Maybe we should liberate North Korea? Or did we already try that?







    We've tried. 60 years ago. With a U.N. authorization by the way.


    Who and why stopped gen. Douglas McArthur is a matter of the public record.


    [at least we've saved South Korea from becoming yet another starving GULAG]

  • Comment number 64.

    Scotch Git wrote:
    #19

    powermeerkat,

    David Cameron used similar arguments very recently. Do they share a scriptwriter?
    We should be telt!






    Have you seen Roman Polanski's "Ghostwriter" ? ;-)

  • Comment number 65.

    The US have been through this before - Vietnam. It thought it was helping the people of South Vietnam against the tyranny of the North. It dropped more bombs on Vietnam than was dropped in the second world war. They killed many innocent people. In the end, they scrambled out of Vietnam with a few thousand Vietnamese who did not want to remain there. Now Vietnam is a unified country harbouring no ill-will against the Americans. It is still a socialist country and a one party state. Perhaps Obama ought to read some history.

  • Comment number 66.

    Ad wrote: In the Mediterranean the latest is that 12 nations are sharing the burden of maintaining the arms embargo - nations including Poland (what, Poland in the Med? Yes, Poland!) .






    Well, Polish soldiers fought in Iraq, and they're still fighting in Afghanistan.

    Just like they fought in American Revolutionary War.

    And much earlier at Vienna, where they stopped a seemingly unstoppable Ottoman onslaught.

    ["for your freedom and ours"]

  • Comment number 67.

    On a lower key, re who are Kaddafi's army. They are Libyans East and West, different clans, not Kaddafi own ones only. employed for money, for perks and cash and things; when a Libyan retires from the army service he is given a foreign car, and there are other perks for the family while he is in the service.

    They are not a good army, because A./ Kaddafi never wanted a strong army suspecting it of a coup
    B./ Kaddafi is himself a colonel only in the name. He is called in Russia a "parquet floor colonel", as his rank is from the military of his ex Ministry of Propaganda :o))) A PR guy.

    However he is able to pay them even now because he has gold stacked, ordinary simple gold, quite heaps of it. Someone in the Russian blogs did a calculation, divided the cash mountain by army he's got at triple wages - he can afford paying them the next 20 years :o)))))))

  • Comment number 68.

    AliceinWonderland wrote: Oh well we'll remember Molotov cocktail recepies then.... Serving teas with polonium in occupants' restaurants :o))))))))) is also an option.







    Alice, if you're referring to an assassination of the former FSB colonel Alex Litvinenko in London, how do you know that Putin did it rather then the pesky Poles?

    After all, polonium-210 has been used. :-)))

  • Comment number 69.

    The "fact that the US mission is winding down" is a most fraudulent statement that makes it sound like the US can kick back and relax without doing much anymore. The fact of the matter is that NATO is almost completely dependent upon logistics, intelligence, and other capabilities from the U.S. military. Plus, none of the other countries of the world are paying any money to the U.S. for these services.

    This American is highly skeptical of this whole endeavor. And I wonder where all the rabid anti-war protestors are now who vehemently opposed preemptive war back in 2003 when George W. Bush launched the Iraq invasion. Is it just because a leftist like Obama who appeals to do-gooders everywhere launched the military action that it's suddenly OK and not a preemptive sin?

    Gaddaffi only talked about slaughtering people and hadn't actually done it, so this is a preemptive war.

    What hyprocrisy! If Bush had done this exact same thing he would have been ripped apart by the media and called a warmonger.

  • Comment number 70.

    Scotch Git wrote:
    #4

    adjutant,

    How do you type in italics? I haven't been able to do so since the BBC techies moved things around again.






    Ask Gaddafi's close personal friend (till quite recenly) Silvio Berlusconi.

    He should know all about italics.


  • Comment number 71.

    I don't think there is any ideological difference between the Libyans fighting for Kaddafi and against. That's one and the same people, and one would think - the army ones are not overly fond of Kaddafi either. Just some happened to be in the army on the time of the revolution or coup or uprising how to call it, and others - didn't. Armies usually swear to be loyal to whoever it is, and are paid to act on the interests of the state.

    I would give credit actually now to the Kaddafian army that it didn't surrender and ran facing the whole world against them let's put it straight. They must be scared witless to even come close to any of their equipment tanks or rockets or whatever, knowing it can be hit any second from air zang and gone and everyone standing nearby. Takes quite a nerve to continue fighting the hopeless case for a week . or is to more now.
    Must be all Libyans are fighters - look at the rebels, and (you can not look :o) but think of the Kaddafian ones for a sec.

  • Comment number 72.

    I think Obama mentioned hte sexual crimes b/c he was possibly talking about this lady?

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_re_af/af_libya_woman_attacked
    An excerpt:
    A Libyan woman who burst into a Tripoli hotel to tell foreign journalists how she was gang raped by Moammar Gadhafi's troops will face criminal charges, a government spokesman said on Tuesday. The spokesman, Moussa Ibrahim, said the men accused by Iman al-Obeidi are now suing her. A son of a high ranking Libyan official was among those she claimed had raped her, he said
    ---------

    The way I feel is that this is humanitarian war, but if Obama wants to take the rebels side, he should say so...

    I am still developing how I feel about Libyans, but I do know that on the news the other day RIchard Engel, a NBC reporter, was hanging out with the rebels and suddenly there were shots fired,a rebel jumped on top of him to save his life...just seconds prior to that the rebel had been showing ENgel his gun- which was fake, plastic and not real....but that guy did try to save his life...then there were shots fired again and like two or three Libyans jumped around ENgel again to save his life- so I do feel that the Libyan rebels at least like us and appreciate us...
    -------
    I think that Obama should be focusing on Japan also and on the unions in America- now they are trying to shut down unions in Cali next...

    In Japan the situation with nuclear is getting more more worse and it could spill into USA...

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/as_japan_earthquake
    An excerpt:
    Highly toxic plutonium was the latest contaminant found seeping into the soil outside the plant, TEPCO said Monday. Safety officials said the amounts did not pose a risk to humans, but the finding supports suspicions that dangerously radioactive water is leaking from damaged nuclear fuel rods. "The situation is very grave," Edano told reporters Tuesday
    ------
    SO clearly this needs to be resolved soon...

  • Comment number 73.

    65. At 15:49pm on 29th mar 2011, zac wrote:
    The US have been through this before - Vietnam. It thought it was helping the people of South Vietnam against the tyranny of the North. It dropped more bombs on Vietnam than was dropped in the second world war. They killed many innocent people. In the end, they scrambled out of Vietnam with a few thousand Vietnamese who did not want to remain there.




    If you want to call dozens of thousands of "Boat People" 'a few thousand'- so be it.

    And many thousands of 'innocent civilians' (including Hmong rebels) slaughtered by the Army of North Vietman (no, is was not Vietcong!) after invading South Vietnam in the clear violation of Paris Agreements.


    Btw. I've been in Vietnam a couple of years ago (on the 40th anniversary of those Agreements).

    With some people in Saigon -I, just many locals, refuse to call it Ho-Chi-Minh City- asking me (after looking carefully around) : "Are you ever going to be back?"

  • Comment number 74.

    powermeer I think nothing of the kind, rather than our exciles in London were dealing in Polonium themselves, and at one point mis-managed the substance.
    There are such dear types of Russians immigrated to the West that dear me.

    As to Putin I think his morals would have quite allowed for it :o)))) - but the target was then so un-interesting (in our understanding), no sense whatsoever, a very junior KGB-ian defected no big deal.

  • Comment number 75.

    KGB doesn't publish their statistics :o))))), how many of them defected abroad.
    Imagine running after each of them with polonium. There isn't enough polonium in the world I suspect :o)))

  • Comment number 76.

    AiW: bTW. Kaddafi is himself a colonel only in the name.






    Correct, Alice.


    As I've mentioned much earlier Gaddafi/Qaddafi/Kadafi/Ivanovitch Kadafiey has had been merely a captain in the Libyan Army of king Idris.

    Only later, after the putsch he usurped a rank of colonel, since he was an aficionado of another putschist, G. A. Nasser, who was a colonel in the Egyptian Army.


    [Btw. anybody knows why 'colonelartist' is no longer here?

    He was so much fun. :-) ]

  • Comment number 77.

    If the morally lofty goals which Obama allegedly is pursuing are factual, in contrast they certainly are being selectively applied. Why Libya, and not, for examples, U.S. - allied regimes in Yemen and Bahrain, where the ruling powers are doing to revolutionary citizens the same as Gadhafi is in Libya? Ir is quite possible to suspect that the secret Western agenda is control of Libyan oil. As for the supposedly diminishing U.S. military role in Libya, which of the so-called coalition has spent and is spending the most money? It is quite possible to suspect that it has been and will continue to be the U.S., with the reported handover of operational command to NATO being merely a smokescreen to obscure actual U.S. involvement for reasons of domestic popular consumption as well as to repel anti-American reactions from countries which fear the possibility of growing U.S. control in the region.

    As the U.S. with its $3 trillion and rapidly growing national debt teeters towards the same fate as befell the Roman Empire and was a factor in the demise of the Soviet Union and its empire, Obama and the U.S. decision makers need to consider the full ramifications of U.S. policy. Unfortunately for ordinary Americans and those in other affected countries, the most important decisions are being made in the boardrooms of Wall Street corporations

  • Comment number 78.

    69. At 16:05pm on 29th mar 2011, Roast Chicken wrote:
    The "fact that the US mission is winding down" is a most fraudulent statement that makes it sound like the US can kick back and relax without doing much anymore. The fact of the matter is that NATO is almost completely dependent upon logistics, intelligence, and other capabilities from the U.S. military.







    Correct: if U.S. doesn't want to move -NATO won't move.


    And if U.S. leaves NATO -there's no more NATO.


    BTW. Nobody denies that ca 90% of cruise missiles and heavy bombs used in the crucial first week of the "humanitarian campaign" have been launched from U.S. destroyers and subs and dropped by stealthy B-2s.

    Inhabitants of the volatile ME know it.


    So at least let's not pretend otherwise, Mr. President.

  • Comment number 79.

    #65 zac

    or you could say that if they'd prevailed in vietnam it may have avoided the killing fields which followed in cambodia

  • Comment number 80.

    BBC's Gavin Hewitt reports in his European blog:

    "In the soft light of early spring, Paris seems contented with its war. The face of the enemy hogs the billboards. Libya's "mad dog", looking stern and distracted, is on the magazine covers and revolves in the tabac windows.

    There is a warm tinge of righteousness."



    Just like during the Algerian War.

    ["how soon they forget!"]

  • Comment number 81.

    Re #73 A correction:

    Btw. I've been in Vietnam several years ago (on the 30th anniversary of Paris Agreements).

    With some people in Saigon -I, just like many locals, refuse to call it Ho-Chi-Minh City- asking me (after looking carefully around) : "Are you ever going to be back?"


    Btw. Have you been to Vietnam, lately?

  • Comment number 82.

    LucyJ,
    surely the Eastern Libyans like you, you have already saved them as they were cornered completely after the first success, when the army re-took back all that they took first.
    And you are cleaning them roads - literally - for a victory ahead.

    I, on my part :o)))) am being shown Western Libyans with Chinese, German and Russian flags, thankful that we didn't join the gang military at least :o))))))
    But must say I am more sceptical; where would ordinary Libyans take Russian flags from. to run around with. one would think you don't stack them at home in case of anything :o))))) Well, the colours are wrong, they could have sewn them together from 3 stripes. but who would bother at such a time. Anyway this is all zombo-box stories :o))))))) as we call our TV. For fact about Libyans we know very little. which is fact.

  • Comment number 83.

    One interesting thing that leaked in is that at the France NATO website there was a note about a drill planned for end of March and that was in end of January. And that drill was about action in some Southern country ursurped ? by a dictator.
    Can be a coincidence can be not, because France packed for action so very quickly, within hours after the resolution, while normally war action anywhere is preceeded decently by long TV talk how nasty someone is. While in this case it was a surprise for all.

  • Comment number 84.

    WebAliceinwonderland wrote:
    KGB doesn't publish their statistics :o))))), how many of them defected abroad.
    Imagine running after each of them with polonium. There isn't enough polonium in the world I suspect :o)))







    Alice, can you get a bumaga [a pass] to get to the still closed city of Sarov?

    [where they produce more than enough of it.]

  • Comment number 85.

    All dictators must be wiped out from the face of earth. But I am quite surprised to see US and the EU praising brutal, oppressive and dictator goverments like the Saudi (and mubarak and Ben ali in the past) instead of asking them to give freedom to their people. I wonder if the west would still have supported Saudi's brutality to their own people if they didnt have oil. They are quite happy to sell their arms to these dictators to kill their own people. Wests ally Arab league (bunch of oil rich, corrupt and brutal dictators) in protecting Libyan's lives and bringing democracy there...what a joke!

  • Comment number 86.

    "As to Putin I think his morals would have quite allowed for it :o)))) - but the target was then so un-interesting (in our understanding), no sense whatsoever, a very junior KGB-ian defected no big deal."






    Sorry Alice, but Col. Alexander Litvinenko was the head of the FSB 's organized crime department.

    And he was naive enough to send to Putin a report documenting connections of high rank FSB officers and Kremlin officials with Russian mafia.

    After which he was promptly arrested.


    [they haven't told ya that, have they? In the "Truth"? Or the "News"? :-))))))))))]

  • Comment number 87.

    Zac (65), I expect Obama has read (and understood) more history tham most people here. But the US government and military learned some lessons from the Vietnam debacle long before Obama came on the scene. US military operations today do not resemble the Vietnam war, the most significant difference being having a limited and well-defined objective.

  • Comment number 88.

    You got to love Obama. Here is the guy saying that we need to stop dictators and repression in the world, yet he stands by and lets Mugabe and some of the African dictators trounce on his people. Oh, that's right; they don't have an Air Force, so we need to stay away. How about China? Oh, they have US dollars, so God forbid we should interfere--we'll just give our protest in words. Obama's no better than Bush in this respect. Bush at least got a dictator out--the result was a mess. Obama's hope is that we'll squash the Libyan armed forces, let the rebels take over, and then there'll be democracy. I predict the same mess as in Iraq, but at least Obama can distance himself saying he didn't put troops on the ground. And this is why he won the Nobel Peace Award? Please....I would have given more credit to Obama if he has told the truth--"we went in because our allies--we owe them for Iraq" or "We needed the oil money".

  • Comment number 89.

    14. At 09:04am on 29th Mar 2011, johnadrianfirth wrote:
    "I am surprised by many adverse comments on Obamas policy statement on Libya.
    His decision no longer for the US to go it alone in policing the world is long overdue..."

    I agree with the general sentiment completely, but listen: you can make a mistake in the best possible way -- and it's still a mistake. Similarly, you can perpetrate an injustice with the best of intentions, but it's still an injustice.

    Or: the road to hell is still paved with good intentions, even when the paving is applied using the best methods.

    Meanwhile, a large number of non-Libyans are sitting around conference tables in London today, sipping their coffee and bottled water and blithely assuming that they ought to have a role in defining the future of the Libyan people -- by virtue of their superior wisdom and occupation of the "moral high ground."

    I say: nuts.


  • Comment number 90.

    "US military operations today do not resemble the Vietnam war, the most significant difference being having a limited and well-defined objective."





    And what, pray, is Pres. Obama's "well-defined objective" in Libya?


    [U.S. Congress seems to have some questions 'bout that]

  • Comment number 91.

    Re #88 The Doctor:


    If you're asking why have we not established a no-fly zone or simply protected innocent people from a slaughter in Burma, Chechnya, Ivory Coast, Somalia, Syria, Tibet, Uighuria, Yemen and Zimbabwe


    I'll be honest: I don't know the answer to that.

    Perhaps you'd like to call our Commander-in-Chief Barack Hussein Obama and ask?

  • Comment number 92.

    #26, #27

    Stevenson, JunkkMale, anyone else who cares.

    The i between the sideways triangles no longer works. Use em instead. Don't forget the /em when you're finished.

    Bold, links, etc. covered here. With undying gratitude to Ed Iglehart.

  • Comment number 93.

    Alice: I, on my part :o)))) am being shown Western Libyans with Chinese, German and Russian flags, thankful that we didn't join the gang military at least :o))))))
    ---------
    I'm sure of the three China is the most unhappy as they seem to be on a current resource conquest of the world and every little bit counts...
    --------
    Alice: But must say I am more sceptical; where would ordinary Libyans take Russian flags from. to run around with. one would think you don't stack them at home in case of anything :o))))) Well, the colours are wrong, they could have sewn them together from 3 stripes. but who would bother at such a time. Anyway this is all zombo-box stories :o))))))) as we call our TV. For fact about Libyans we know very little. which is fact.
    -------
    Isn't it funny how USA, UK, France, Russia and so many countries have red, white and blue as their national colors?

    That's funny u call it a zombo-box- what do u call a computer?; zombies, vampires and werewolves are very popular in American movies right now...

    Anyhew, ur statement about how we barely know Libyans is hitting it right on hte money, b/c its true, we really don't know much about them...all I have to go on is that Libyan rebel saving Engel's life and I suppressed it for several days, but maybe it is the way they feel and if the Libyans are willing to save American and NATO lives, then that's a good sign...

    However, I do not think hte Libyans can defeat Gaddafi unless either NATO gives weapons and trains them or troops on ground and as we do not want to put troops on ground, I think arming and training them is our next step...

    Unless of course, someone unknown wants to take rogue action...
    (which woudl actually be the best and least messy solution)

  • Comment number 94.

    Obama says the "I" word, but apparently plenty of Americans are starting to say "we".
    While Obama was "I"'ing all over the place, protesters gathered outside White House.
    What were they protesting?
    The military mission in Libya.
    Demonstrators held placards and got fairly agitated.
    Demonstrators called on Obama and Washington to quit meddling in Libya.
    Further they warned against another protracted engagement like the war in Iraq and Afghanistan.
    The signs said such things as
    - "$ for Jobs and Schools, not War on Libya!" and
    - "Stop US French and British War on Libya!"
    Several protesters shouted "We've seen this war before, same story different war." which I thought was rather clever. They expressed their opposition to the intervention (which was entering its second week with US and coalition forces enforcing a "no-fly zone" which far-exceeded the parametres of UNSC R1973.".
    Many voices shouted about
    - United States has no right to bomb Libya.
    - United States has no right to pretend it's a champion of freedom and democracy. -- Only Libyans can determine its own destiny."
    Betsy Harmon, activist, DC 9/11 Truth Organization: "It's a lie that we are bombing Libya for humanitarian purposes, that doesn't make any sense. Rather, Libya has oil that the United States wants to control."
    She carried a sign which read: "Libya (War) is about Oil, not Human Rights."
    In fact, I would go as far as to say: There is a connection between American imperialist aggression and American lies that make you dizzy!"
    The United States is already burdened by the unpopular wars in Afghanistan and Iraq; the country is snailing into recovery; so, the Obama Administration is walking a daring line when it comes to Libya. Obama says the United States will not lead the coalition; that it is the process of transferring command of the mission to NATO, but I think that no matter what Obama says, it will be the United States pulling the strings.
    After all, who runs NATO?
    NATO has been a US-led military operation since it was born.
    Nato, United States = no difference.

  • Comment number 95.

    foof: Wests ally Arab league (bunch of oil rich, corrupt and brutal dictators) in protecting Libyan's lives and bringing democracy there...what a joke!
    --------
    We aren't them and they aren't us, by a long shot!

    Only USA is USA!!! ;)
    --------
    Meerkat: And he was naive enough to send to Putin a report documenting connections of high rank FSB officers and Kremlin officials with Russian mafia.

    After which he was promptly arrested.
    --------
    Why not promote him?

    Ironic that wikileaks guy has been kept safe in Europe but not hte guy u r discussing that leaked out stuff about Russia, eh?
    --------
    Meerkat: And what, pray, is Pres. Obama's "well-defined objective" in Libya?

    [U.S. Congress seems to have some questions 'bout that]
    --------
    This is a good article on fact checks for Obama's speech...

    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_on_re_us/us_obama_libya_fact_check
    An excerpt:
    In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show.
    OBAMA: "Our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives."
    THE FACTS: Even as the U.S. steps back as the nominal leader, reduces some assets and fires a declining number of cruise missiles, the scope of the mission appears to be expanding and the end game remains unclear.
    ------
    So I guess the answer is unclear...

  • Comment number 96.

    TheDoctor (88) perpetuates a misconception common throughout this forum that this is merely a US operation, and that President Obama is calling all the shots. Not true. This is a UN operation, authorized by the Security Council under the Responsibility to Protect doctrine, and currentlr (or about to be) coordinated by NATO (which has the assets to carry it out. The R2P doctrine was not adopted by the UN until 2005, and it is still being fleshed out. R2P enforcement is decided on a case-by-case basis. Those who think intervention is called for in any other case need to go to the UN and make the case to the Security Council. Pretending that it is merely US policy that matters is naive, in my opinion. Or just politics by the Obama-bashers or knee-jerk anti-military types.

  • Comment number 97.

    Power.. (90), the objectives of the Libya operation are stated in UN SC Resolution 1973, readily available online. The President has also stated his objective that Gadhafi should go. He could hardly be clearer on that point. I suggest you listen to Obama's recent address (available from VOA News) in which he stated that objective.

  • Comment number 98.

    Why is Italian PM trying to drag Clooney into his trial?
    http://news.yahoo.com/s/ap/20110329/ap_en_ot/eu_italy_berlusconi_scandal_2

    Come on, Berslusoni, man up!
    -------
    Why the attacks on foreign women reporters?

    http://www.csmonitor.com/Commentary/Opinion/2011/0329/Sexual-attacks-on-journalists-Why-foreign-women-are-seen-as-fair-game/(page)/2
    An excerpt:
    We are not men, but we are not really women either, because – the thinking goes – any decent woman would be at home with her family, not running around in a time of chaos. This might go some way to explain how a Middle Eastern culture that is so protective of women can simultaneously have complete disregard for us. Whether in the frenzy of mob behavior or in minds fogged by fundamentalist thinking, a foreign women is suddenly not really a woman – not one deserving of the same respect as a local one.
    -----------
    I understand why females want to report just as much as men do, but truth is, its doubly as dangerous for women to go into such lands, so let them go but only if they know and understand the risks...

  • Comment number 99.

    "Col. Alexander Litvinenko was the head of the FSB 's organized crime department.

    And he was naive enough to send to Putin a report documenting connections of high rank FSB officers and Kremlin officials with Russian mafia.

    After which he was promptly arrested."

    No, my "they" didn't tell me that.

    When did your "they" tell you? :o)))))))))

    As far as I know, Mr Litvinenko was heading a department of a regional how to say, an office, in Moscow. Which amount (within one Moscow) in quantity nearly as many as police stations :o))))))))

    I think it is ordinary to blow the importance of the position out of proportion, when one plans to defect.

    He was not known here as a freedom fighter. Neither standing for the rights of businessmen targeted by organised crime. What we heard is he was fired for doing quite the opposite.

    During the time ("Wild West" post-perestroyka, or "raging zero years") interior services here mediated btw new "businessmen" and mafia eh, helping them to find understanding :o))))) As the state kind of forgot to pay their salaries :o)))))))

    Surely they might have been honest ones, protecting new rich fat fat cats while being un-paid themselves. Just read this sentence again to understand the chance of it.

    I think he was simply un-employed and tried to find his luck in the West. Having contacts with Berezovsky from his time in Russia, joined his team in Britain.

    As I understood, Berezovsky helped him with money when Litvinenko was in Britain, and that Litvinenko was unhappy that his expectations re the wealth and possible employment, from any potential employer, didn't come true.

    The rest is mystery to me.

    I am sad to admit, but Russians didn't cry many tears with him when he was killed.
    Soviet past didn't breed in us much sympathy for the KGB workers, yes I know all states have special services, like, OK, but to like them on top - is a bit too much to be asked.
    And a defected special services man, in value, how to say, shrinks even further down.
    Totally useless. Signed and stamped :o))))).

    This is very unhumanitarian approach, he was a live man, after all. Like, humanly, we sympathise. But in very double mind.

    powermeer, if he would be real arrested, he wouldnt be giving press conferences after, here, together with Berezovsky. And I saw him myself on TV, them both, sitting side by side, at the press-conference table. Real arrested people don't do press conferences in main TV channels blaming government in this and that, and don't have a chance later on to emigrate to Britain. He was plain fired, not arrested. I think nobody was interested in him as he was let go.





  • Comment number 100.

    Mark writes:

    "Now it seems as if the action has worked, Mr Obama is claiming credit. The "I" word was to the fore, and I don't just mean Iraq."

    Wow.

    Why don't you just say that you think giving the President credit for actually doing his job is about as merited as Lyndon Johnson's silver star?

    The Press has spent the past month criticizing the guy for not being active, for dithering, and for not knowing what he was doing. As far as I can tell, virtually all of the negative criticism has been unmerited.

    You know, Mr. Mardell, because you have access to the posts that the moderators censored, that no other person on this site has predicted events, or seen what was going on any better than I have. You, more than any other, have cause to know that what I write is true, and I say this to you:

    The smear against his character that you have made here, today, is a low, mean-spirited, and unworthy comment.

 

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