Washington: Defending his decision to go for
military operation to enforce the no-fly zone and protection of civilians in Libya, US President Barack Obama said that a
failure to do so would have dearly cost the United States of
"While I will never minimise the costs involved in
military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya
would have carried a far greater price for America," Obama
said in his address to the nation.
"For generations, the United States of America has played
a unique role as an anchor of global security and advocate for
human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military
action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the
world`s many challenges. But when our interests and values are
at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That is what
happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks."
The US President said confronted by brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis by the Gaddafi regime, he ordered warships into the Mediterranean.
European allies declared their willingness to commit
resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the
Arab League appealed to the world to save lives, he said.
"At my direction, America led an effort with our allies
at the UN Security Council to pass a historic resolution that
authorized a No Fly Zone to stop the regime`s attacks from the
air, and further authorised all necessary measures to protect
the Libyan people," he said.
"Ten days ago, having tried to end the violence without
using force, the international community offered Gaddafi a
final chance to stop his campaign of killing, or face the
consequences. Rather than stand down, his forces continued
their advance, bearing down on the city of Benghazi, home to
nearly 700,000 men, women and children who sought their
freedom from fear," Obama said.
At this point, the US and the world faced a choice, Obama
said, adding that Gaddafi declared that he would show "no
mercy" to his own people.
"He (Gaddafi) compared them to rats, and threatened to go
door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we had seen
him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand
people in a single day. Now, we saw regime forces on the
outskirts of the city. We knew that if we waited one more day,
Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a
massacre that would have reverberated across the region and
stained the conscience of the world," he said.
"It was not in our national interest to let that happen.
I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after
consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorised
military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security
Council Resolution 1973. We struck regime forces approaching
Benghazi to save that city and the people within it," he said.