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"Obama's War": President To Address Nation On Libya Tonight

Kevin Douglas Grant |
March 28, 2011 | 9:42 a.m. PDT

Executive Editor

If Iraq and Afghanistan were inherited from George W. Bush, then Libya is a war of President Obama's own.

Monday marks the tenth day of American military intervention in Libya, and Obama will use an evening television address to further clarify his decision to intervene.  As he addresses the American people, he will also be speaking to a ruffled Congress, much of which feels left out of the decisionmaking process.

CBS reports: "It's a speech critics in Congress say he should have delivered before the first American cruise missile was fired at a Libyan target on March 19th."

House Speaker John Boehner (R-OH), just one of the outspoken Congressional critics of the Libyan intervention, said: "I and many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission.”

Moderate democrat Sen. Jim Webb (D-VA) elaborated: "[A] concern that I have is that we have been sort of on autopilot for almost 10 years from now in terms of presidential authority in conducting these type of military operations absent the meaningful participation of the Congress,” Webb said. “We have not had a debate and I know that there was some justification put into place because of concern for civilian casualties. But this isn’t the way that our system is supposed to work.”

Various media outlets have assembled the questions they'd like to see Obama answer.  Among them:

 

  • What is Congress' role in this?
  • Why is Libya different from the other American wars?
  • What would success in Libya look like?
  • Why did the U.S. hand over the reigns to NATO?
  • Will we further inflame the Muslim world with our presence in Libya?
  • When will this be over?

 

Obama spoke about Libya in Latin America on Sunday, and CBS expects him to reiterate the following:

 

  • "We're enforcing the mandate of the United Nations Security Council."
  • "Because we acted quickly, a humanitarian catastrophe has been avoided and the lives of countless civilians -- innocent men, women and children -- have been saved."
  • "We are not putting any ground forces into Libya."
  • "Together with the international community, we're delivering urgent humanitarian assistance."
  • "Moammar Qaddafi has lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to rule."

 

The consensus is that Obama needs to sell the country on a narrative thread for the different military operations now under his command and the ideology behind their execution.  The Atlantic writes:

"Let me be clear." The line is a mainstay of almost every major presidential address on foreign policy. Whether Obama succeeds in conveying his complex intentions with a pithy phrase or two is often less about the skill of his speechwriters and more about America's capacity for accepting decisive military action by their commander in chief. But it's also about who the man is - and whether, as his own re-election approaches, Americans know enough about Obama's vision to let him see it through.

 





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