Obama: U.S. Intervention Averted Libyan Massacre

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WASHINGTON -- In a nationally televised speech Monday night, President Barack Obama defended the first American war launched on his watch.

The president never used the term "war" to describe the U.S.- led military campaign against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi.  But speaking from the National Defense University in the nation's capital, he defended every step his administration has taken to lead a campaign that strongly resembles a war.

"When our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act," Obama said.

CBN News Sr. Political Correspondent David Brody shared his insights on the presidents speech on the CBN News Channel's Morning News, March 29. Click play for his comments following Jennifer Wishon's report.  

Also, watch an updated report here with CBN News' Dale Hurd, followed by comments from Regent University distinguished professor Charles Dunn.    

Libya 'Dangerous' Under Gadhafi 

The address came six weeks after Libyans rebels took to the streets demanding change from a strongman who has oppressed them for 40 years.

"If we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world," Obama said.

The president has clearly stated that Gadhafi must step down. As long as the Libyan leader in power, Obama says the North African nation will remain a "dangerous place." But don't expect U.S. snipers to bring an end to Gadhafi's regime.

"If we tried to overthrow Gadhafi by force, our coalition would splinter," Obama warned. "We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground or risk killing many civilians from the air."

Instead, the president said he plans to apply political pressure to force the colonel out. However, Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., urged the president to continue tough military action.

"I welcome the president's clarity that the U.S. goal is for Gadhafi to leave power," McCain wrote in a statement. "But an equal amount of clarity is still required on how we will accomplish that goal."

"The United States and our allies must continue to take 'all necessary measures' to compel Gadhafi to leave power," McCain said.

'Obama Doctrine' Unfolds

The president's speech didn't end with the crisis in Libya.  He said the uprisings throughout the Middle East demand that America show its willingness to get involved.

He said the world's reaction to Libya could affect how other leaders in the region handle their own uprisings, making it crucial why America and others had to strike against Gadhafi's forces.
 
"The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power," the president said.

Although Obama wasn't willing to say the U.S. would fight for every uprising, he did say it would stand alongside those who stand for the same core principles.
 
"The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that," Obama stated.

"But we can make a difference," he added. "I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us through many storms."

"Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs," Obama said.
   
Meanwhile, U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is in London, meeting with international allies to discuss transferring control of the Libyan mission to NATO. 

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Jennifer Wishon

CBN News White House Correspondent

Jennifer Wishon is the White House correspondent for CBN News based in the network’s Washington, D.C. Bureau.  Before taking over the White House beat, Jennifer covered Capitol Hill and other national news, from the economy to the 2010 oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Follow Jennifer on Twitter @JenniferWishon and "like" her at Facebook.com/JennWishon.