By Williams Ekanem for MACTV News
Against the growing criticism that United States President, Barack Obama took a unilateral decision to attack Libya, the President said yesterday that he consulted with bipartisan leadership at the Congress before taking action.
In an address to the nation at the National Defense University, Obama said, “after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce UN Security Council Resolution 1973.
Giving justification for leading the initial attack, the United States President said that “in the face of the world’s condemnation, Gaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people.
Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. The water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misratah was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble.
Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assault from the air.”
According to Obama, “ confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya.
At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.”
In assessing the effect of the action so far, Obama said that, “we hit Gaddafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit his air defenses, which paved the way for a No Fly Zone.
We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gaddafi’s deadly advance.”
On the next steps forward, he indicated that Secretary of States, Hillary Clinton is to meet with representatives of the opposition in London on Tuesday where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than thirty nations.
These discussions, he stated, will focus on what kind of political effort is necessary to pressure Gaddafi, while also supporting a transition to the future that the Libyan people deserve. This is because while the military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, the United States will continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya that belongs not to a dictator, but to its people.
“Going forward, the lead in enforcing the No Fly Zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gaddafi’s remaining forces.
In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role – including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications.
Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation – to our military, and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly,” the President added.
Substantiating his resolve to attack Libya, Obama insisted that, “to brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.
Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”