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Mission Accomplished? Obama Makes Case for Military Action in Libya

Aaron Task
Editor in Chief
Fin - Daily Ticker - US

President Obama said Monday evening he authorized the use of force in Libya to prevent "a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world."

The speech, Obama's first major address about U.S. military action in Libya, was aimed at several different audiences: The American public, Congress, our NATO allies, Arab and Muslim leaders in the region as well as the world at large.

Given the nearly impossible task of appealing to those varied constituencies, the speech was widely viewed as a success for President Obama.

It was "his best stab" at providing a "more coherent" rationale for military action in Libya, says Jonathan Allen, senior congressional correspondent at Politico.com.

Still, many questions remain unanswered, including:

  • What Libya will look like after the operation?
  • If the primary goal of the mission has been accomplished -- to prevent a "massacre" of rebel forces and innocent civilians in Benghazi -- why are we still there?
  • How it's possible that regime change in Libya is a stated goal of the U.S…but not of this particular military campaign? ("Of course, there is no question that Libya - and the world - will be better off with Gaddafi out of power…but broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake," the President said.)

Allen and I discuss these issues in the accompanying video, as well as related questions about the political backlash President Obama is facing from both members of his own party and Republicans.

"At the moment, there isn't critical mass to cause Congress to rebuke the President over this" but opposition is "coming from all corners," Allen says, noting centrist Senators such as Richard Lugar (R-IN.) and Jim Webb (D-Va.) have been among the most critics of President Obama's handling of Libya.

Finally, there's still an open question about how the America people view the campaign. Prior to the speech, Gallup showed 47% of Americans approved the mission and 37% disapprove.

The polls are still coming out after the speech but Allen says "the administration has a ways to go to explain to the public" why we're using force in Libya but not other regional hot-spots.

What do you think?