Failure to act in Libya would have cost America dearly: Obama
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Last Updated: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 10:05
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 America.

"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.


First Published: Tuesday, March 29, 2011, 10:05

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