Obama 311 reuters.
(photo credit: Reuters)
WASHINGTON – The Obama administration scrambled to defend its policy on Libya
this weekend after coming under attack from domestic critics of both
Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle have rapped the
White House for not consulting with them before launching a military
intervention and questioned the objectives and means of conducting the
US President Barack Obama took to the airwaves Saturday to
explain his actions and argue that they have been effective.
succeeding in our mission,” he said in his weekly radio address, pointing to the
air force’s destruction of Libya’s air defenses, leader Moammer Gaddafi’s roll
back from key opposition areas, and the prevention of mass civilian
“Make no mistake: because we acted quickly, a humanitarian
catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians–innocent men,
women and children–have been saved,” Obama declared.
He went on to
emphasize that the American role is “limited,” the mission “clear and focused,”
and one being carried out with international support.
He also noted the
increasing use of NATO forces going forward.
The White House announced
late Friday that Obama would also be giving a speech Monday to lay out the
administration’s policy on the decision to use American force in a third Middle
Obama and his team have also been reaching out to members
of Congress who have taken umbrage at his lack of consultation and questioned
whether he acted improperly, since Congress is the body given the authority to
declare war. In addition to perennial opponents such as Republican House
Majority Leader John Boehner, who sent a letter to the White House last week
questioning the strategy, Obama has also faced concern from Democratic Senator
Jim Webb and other traditional allies.
Several of his Democratic
Congressional backers rushed to support Obama and his Libya policy.
my judgment, there’s been smooth communication and appropriate consultation
between Congress, the president, and members of his administration thus far,”
said Democratic Senator John Kerry, chairman of the Senate Foreign Relations
Committee, after a bipartisan hour-long briefing that Obama and top White House
officials convened with members on Friday, before members return from the
current recess next week.
“President Obama’s decision to help form an
international coalition to stop the Libyan government from killing its own
citizens and prevent this situation from having a destabilizing impact on
neighboring countries was both right and smart,” said Democrat Howard Berman,
Ranking Member on the House Foreign Affairs Committee.
“We already know
that this mission has saved tens of thousands, if not more, civilian lives. It
is critical that the region’s leaders see that Gaddafi’s policy of
indiscriminate murder carries a heavy price-tag.” But several Republican critics
remain dissatisfied, some because of the manner of the undertaking and its
advisability, others because of its scope.
Republican Senator John
McCain, Ranking Member on the Senate Armed Services Committee, questioned
whether the US action was sufficient to force Gaddafi from
“Senator McCain supports the decision to intervene militarily in
Libya, but he remains concerned that our actions at present may not be
sufficient to avoid a stalemate and accomplish the US objective of forcing
Gaddafi to leave power,” McCain spokeswoman Brooke Buchanan said.
contributed to this report.
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