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Argument: Regime change is not a military objective in Libya

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Text of Obama's Speech On Libya: "A Responsibility To Act." NPR.org. March 28th, 2011: "Just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Gadhafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya — and the world — would be better off with Gadhafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

The task that I assigned our forces — to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone — carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It's also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

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.

As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do — and will do — is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gadhafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gadhafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadhafi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on Gadhafi's side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be."

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