Obama cools to US military intervention in Libya
President Obama signals that, for now, he is wary of committing US military forces to help the Libyan opposition oust Muammar Qaddafi.
President Obama on Friday signaled he has settled into a cautious approach to Libya that seeks the ouster of Col. Muammar Qaddafi, but which – at this point – does not include the use of US military force.Skip to next paragraph
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As outlined at a White House press conference, the president’s Libya policy in many ways reflects the pragmatic approach he has adopted towards the upheaval that has seized the Arab world from Yemen to Morocco.
The US stands with the people of the region and their yearning for greater freedoms, Mr. Obama says. But a variety of factors – from differing US interests to how embattled governments respond to the protests against them – mean the US will not treat each case the same. The one constant, the president suggests, is that the US will look for the predominant force for change to come from within.
At the press conference – called by the White House to address rising gas prices – Obama painted a picture of a slow but sure course on Libya aimed at pressuring the Libyan government as it battles the opposition.
“We are slowly tightening the noose around Qaddafi,” Obama said, citing the international sanctions imposed on the regime, the adoption of an arms embargo, and implementation by NATO of 24-hour overflight surveillance of Libyan military activity.
Obama's pragmatic approach
As for eventual military action to help bring about Qaddafi’s departure, Obama said he was weighing the options but suggested he is not yet as enthusiastic as some other Western countries, led by France and Great Britain, appear to be.
“You have to balance costs versus benefits” in deciding whether or not to use the military, he said. “I don’t take those decisions lightly.”
Obama stopped short of endorsing the imposition of a no-fly zone over Libya, but noted that NATO officials will meet on Tuesday to continue discussions that took place this week. In addition, he noted that he is sending Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton to the region next week, and she will meet with representatives of the Libyan opposition.