Obama speech doesn't answer questions some Colorado leaders have about action in Libya

By David O. Williams
Real AspenMarch 29, 2011

Colorado’s senior member of Congress, Democrat Diana DeGette, expressed her doubts last night after President Barack Obama delivered a national speech making his case for U.S. military action in Libya over the last nine days.

“The president stated his rationale for the military action in Libya, but I still have significant questions about our involvement in that country,” DeGette said in a release Monday night. “I remain eager to hear additional details regarding the causes for and the scope of our continued engagement in Libya on Wednesday, when Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary {Robert] Gates will provide a classified briefing to Congress.”

Obama essentially defended the American airstrikes to support a then-collapsing rebellion against Libyan strongman Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi by saying the world could not stand by and watch a massacre. Also, Arab leaders and European nations backed the military action, which the president never deemed “war” in his 28-minute address.

President Barack Obama defending American airstrikes to support the uprising in Libya.

“For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom,” Obama said, according to a Politico transcript. “Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.”

Colorado Sen. Michael Bennet, a Democrat, supported the president’s rationale, but he added that the rest of the world needs to now take the reins and enforce a no-fly zone.

“I’ve said from the beginning that our mission in Libya must be focused on preventing the slaughter of innocent civilians. Our military has performed that mission bravely and effectively, and because of their efforts, Gadhafi’s forces have been pushed back and a humanitarian crisis has been averted," Bennet said in a statement to the press.

"As the United States begins to scale back its role in the conflict, a broad, NATO-based coalition must now assume control of the mission. Moving forward, the responsibility of securing a No Fly Zone and protecting innocent civilians must be shared by a broad coalition of allies including Arab partners," he said.

“I look forward to receiving more information from the Administration on the scope and nature of our involvement in the mission as events develop, and I will continue to monitor the situation closely in the coming days," said Bennet.

Colorado Democrat Ed Perlmutter offered this statement:

“American combat forces have performed the mission they were asked to do with excellence and bravery. My thoughts are with the brave men and women of the US military and international coalition who are implementing the No Fly Zone and with the people of Libya fighting for democracy and basic human rights against a brutal dictator.

“I am encouraged by the success of the mission so far and the strong international coalition that is implementing the No Fly Zone. I look forward to the briefing Congress will get on Wednesday from the Secretary of State, Secretary of Defense and other top administration officials. I will wait on further comment until my questions are answered at that time. Ultimately the future of Libya lies in the hands of the Libyan people.”

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