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Obama Says US Had 'Responsibility' To Prevent Massacre In Libya

Published Tuesday, 29th March 2011 07:13 am - © 2011 Dow Jones


By Jared A. Favole

of Dow Jones NEWSWIRES

WASHINGTON -(Dow Jones)- President Barack Obama on Monday said the U.S. had a responsibility to intervene in Libya to stop Col. Moammar Gadhafi from brutally killing his own people and has halted the erratic leader's "deadly advance."

Calling Gadhafi a tyrant, Obama said he "has denied his people freedom, exploited their wealth, murdered opponents at home and abroad and terrorized innocent people around the world -- including Americans who were killed by Libyan agents."

The speech comes about a week after he authorized the military to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya by launching air strikes against forces loyal to Gadhafi. The air strikes by the U.S. military and a coalition of forces from other countries have given momentum to rebels fighting against the Gadhafi regime.

President Obama has faced consistent criticism since he authorized the use of force amid concerns the U.S. role is open-ended. Obama said the U.S. role is limited and was necessary to halt a massacre of Libyan civilians. U.S. intervention also helped prevent destabilizing the region, Obama said.

Much of that complexity involves what the future holds for Gadhafi. Obama said the Libyan strongman has lost his legitimacy to rule. However, ousting Gadhafi from power isn't among the objectives of a U.N. Security Council resolution authorizing the use of force in Libya.

"Gadhafi has not yet stepped down from power, and until he does, Libya will remain dangerous," Obama said. He said regime change in Libya would be "a mistake."

"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," Obama said, noting that the Iraq war took eight years, thousands of lives and nearly $1 trillion.

--By Jared A. Favole, Dow Jones Newswires; 202-862-9256; jared.favole@dowjones.com

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