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Analysis on Obama’s 03-28-2011 Libya Speech

March 29th, 2011
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03.29.2011 original publish date
04.03.2011 updated links
05.21.2013 updated broken video link (ESPN as shown)

Analysis on Obama’s 03-28-2011 Libya Speech

original article written by Net Advisor

President Obama gave a prepared speech on the events in summary about Libya and the U.S.’s involvement. The only problem is that there were a number of issues that the speech didn’t entirely quite add up against the facts. Let’s take a look:

I. First perhaps a couple minor technical points, but relative ones. Obama stated, “…coalition forces stopped Gaddafi’s advance.”

(1) The battle in Libya isn’t exactly over, thus it would be difficult to say that coalition forces have stopped Gaddafi from doing anything.

(2) Gaddafi has not exactly advanced anywhere. The entire conflict is occurring within Libya’s own borders. It is not as if Gaddafi was acting like a Sadam Hussein and advancing into a neighboring country as the former Saddam did in Kuwait.

II. Next, Obama stated, “…as we speak, our troops are supporting our ally Japan, leaving Iraq to its people, stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan…”

This is a mouthful of data in one sentence and has a ton of inaccuracies. There are 3 issues here: Japan, Iraq and Afghanistan. Let’s explore the facts.

(1) Japan. To my knowledge I have not seen where the U.S. sent “additional” military troops to Japan. We have relief efforts in place and we already have military personnel stationed in Japan since the end of World War II. Japan is not exactly in a “war situation” as they are in a humanitarian situation. So it is difficult to compare Japan’s problems to Iraq or Afghanistan.

(2) Iraq. Obama stated, (the United States is) “leaving Iraq to its people.” To me it sounds as if the President is saying, Iraq is on their own and free to go about their happy lives. Iraq is anything but happy and the word “alone” in Obama’s speech should probably be replaced with the word “abandoned.”

Iraq is a mess that some in political office and perhaps some media outlets just don’t want to talk about. So we will do this here.

A. Obama has yet to withdraw all U.S. military forces out of Iraq as he so strongly campaigned for on 07-23-2007 (Video). Obama also opposed the Iraq War from the beginning. Despite troop withdrawals, the fact is Obama still maintains approximately 50,000 U.S. troops in Iraq.

Let’s look at some of the headlines about Iraq:
05-24-2010: “The White House is likely to delay the withdrawal of the first large phase of combat troops from Iraq for at least a month after escalating bloodshed and political instability in the country” (Source: guardian.co.uk).

08-01-2010:Iraq violence ‘worst in two years’. At least 535 people have been killed in Iraq in the month of July, making it the country’s deadliest since May 2008, according to Iraqi government figures.” The US government disagrees with those numbers, but does not state how they account for their own numbers (Source: aljazeera.net) (PDF).


“More Christians Flee Iraq After New Violence…Thousands of residents from Baghdad and Mosul, in particular — followed an Oct. 31 siege at a church in Baghdad that killed 51 worshipers and 2 priests and a subsequent series of bombings and assassinations singling out Christians.”

— Source: New York Times (PDF)

03-24-2011: “In Zafaraniya district in southeastern Baghdad, a roadside bomb exploded on a busy road, killing a civilian and wounding seven others” (Source: CNN). Search for more news on Iraqi violence.


“…attacks…illustrate the changing complexion of violence in Iraq today: fewer large-scale, coordinated explosions that aim at innocent civilians, and an apparent increase in assassinations and robberies.”

— Source: New York Times (PDF)

Keep in mind that President Bush said the Iraq War ended in 2003. President Obama said he ended the Iraq war in August 2010. Both statements of course are far from accurate. My definition of a war’s end is when you no longer have troops occupying a foreign land.

President Obama repeatedly chastised President Bush especially over Iraq during the presidential 2008 election campaign. Obama does not want to be seen as a ‘Bush makeover.’ Yet, the Administration seems to have this fantasy about Obama’s performance in Iraq.

“Obama again acknowledged that our forces in Iraq had “succeeded beyond any expectation,” not least his own.”

— Source: Wall Street Journal

The problems and violence in Iraq never went away, we just decided to pack up after blasting the country and leave a mess. So yes Mr. President, we (or perhaps), the Obama Administration are now “leaving Iraq to its people” – mostly to die in a brutal civil war that may never end.

(3) Afghanistan. In that same earlier sentence, Obama also stated that (the U.S. is also) “stopping the Taliban’s momentum in Afghanistan…”

Afghanistan is a poster-child for how not to run a war. In 2010, I published a 25 page in-depth report on Afghanistan: What exactly is the now Obama Administration doing there, what are the costs in lives and tax dollars. The report also includes some analysis supported with over 150 referenced links of data.

In short, Afghanistan is not a war anyone can win – at least not in the “feel-good” way we are approaching it where U.S. – Afghan policy is being influenced by illiterate drug farmers. The British Empire couldn’t control Afghanistan 172 years ago. The (then) Soviet Union (USSR) gave up after 10 years (1979-1989). But forget about 172+ years of history. Now after 10 years (since 2001) the U.S. somehow thinks it can get control over the issues in Afghanistan.  Now here is the funny part. The U.S. has no intent to control Afghanistan. Basically we are trying to take weeds out of a garden the size of a country. Guess what? Weeds grow back. So the Obama Administration can paint with whatever brush they want in Afghanistan. As soon as we leave, the problems will return.

III. Next, Obama stated with regard to U.S. military intervention in Libya, “…we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges.” Just one comment here: Has the Administration ever read a history book? Just a reminder that World War I was also called the “War to End All Wars.” We know that wasn’t true. We’ll skip the further discussion about WWII, Korea, Vietnam, Gulf War, Iraq War, Afghanistan and a host of other “little” conflicts the U.S. has engaged in throughout modern history.

“…we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges.”

— Source: President Obama, 03-28-2011 speech on U.S. & Libya

When dealing with dictators, tyrants, and the alike, trade sanctions just won’t work against these kinds of people. However trade sanctions are exactly what the Obama Administration ordered.

“President Barack Obama said Friday (03-25-2011) that sanctions against Libya will target the government while protecting the people.”

— Source: CNN

One really has to stop and question how one comes to the thinking process that signing a piece of paper (“trade sanctions”) in Washington DC is somehow going to stop a military dictator from using aircraft, tanks, etc, to kill people in Libya – or anywhere else for that matter. Obama’s foreign policy clearly hasn’t worked in (nuclear developing) Iran where 25 counties are still doing business with Iran, including China (Source: Los Angeles Times). Sanctions haven’t worked in North Korea either for the last 60 years (Source: New York Times, PDF).

IV. President Obama accurately summarized Gaddafi’s laundry-list of wrongdoings:

“For more than four decades, the Libyan people have been ruled by a tyrant – Moammar Gaddafi. 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.”

— Source: President Obama, 03-28-2011 speech on U.S. & Libya

Many however seem to have forgotten or perhaps most of the general public may have not been aware of that:

(1) Under the Obama Administration (2009) the U.S. and Libya re-established Ambassadors for the first time since 1973 (Source: CIA Fact Book).

(2) Because of his so called (modern) ‘history of good behavior’, Gaddafi won a seat on the UN Security Council (Source: MS-NBC, 10-16-2007).

(3) By 2008, Gaddafi became PRESIDENT of the UN Security Council (Source: CNN). That’s correct, the man whom Obama and everyone else now pulls out the 40-year history book of Gaddafi’s sins, was President of the UN Security Council just three years ago.

(4) By 2009, Gaddafi made a speech calling the UN Security Council “the terror council” (Source: MS-NBC).

V. The President seems to claim that he lead the actions for a “No Fly Zone” and to protect the people of 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.”

— Source: President Obama, 03-28-2011 speech on U.S. & Libya

We’ll that sure sounds presidential, but it’s not exactly accurate. The reality is, the countries that pleaded to the other G-8 Nations and led this entire effort against Libya was surprisingly – France and the UK (Sources: The Associated Press, France 24/7 International News, and Reuters).

“Britain and France took the lead in plans to enforce a no-fly zone over Libya.”

— Source: Salt Lake Tribune/ written by The Associated Press

Who led this effort again? And how did the Obama Administration and the other G-8 members act? With great reservation. In fact, even President Obama was wary of a no-fly zone over Libya:

“The administration has been wary of a no-fly zone”

— Source: Bloomberg, 03-15-2011

While Libyans were being killed by their leader and his army, France and the UK was trying to gain support of the G-8 to put a stop to it all. So what was President Obama doing? Discussing Basketball Brackets (ESPN Video). The Obama Administration eventually came off the (basketball) court and to the table to handle Libya’s aggression against its people.

Reluctant Leadership?
So the U.S. gets involved to help the people of Libya. Obama doesn’t want to be seen as a “War President” despite the fact we have troops in Iraq, Afghanistan for what will be his entire Presidency. Now to a lessor degree we have specialists in Libya. So Obama quickly told the People of the United States that ‘ U.S. forces won’t get bogged down in Libya.’ He also indicated that he doesn’t want to be the world’s policeman, and effectively doesn’t want to create another “Iraq” (Source: Reuters).

The President has no intention of forcefully removing Gaddafi from power. In fact, Obama has been so apprehensive about this effort, one day after his 3-28-2011 Libya speech, he is handing the torch to NATO. So basically we are in this battle for a week or are we?

The facts are that the United States (tax payers) fund the biggest portion for the UN, NATO, and might as well add the International Monetary Fund (IMF).

Unlike the UN and the IMF, the U.S. pretty much runs NATO. So the U.S. will still be in the mix of things, but perhaps under different clothing and perhaps under the NATO or UN flags.

The U.S., NATO or the UN did not help the people during Iran’s 2009 uprising – which still continues today says Aljazeera.net and BBC News). Reason: Because that would be a bigger conflict – significantly greater than Iraq and Afghanistan combined times eight, thus not exactly a weekend warrior job.

What the Obama Administration needs to understand is that one can’t half-ass a war by sending in limited forces, a few planes, a barrage of missiles and think the job is done. You either eliminate your target or you don’t fight. One can’t fight a battle partially or substantially damaging the enemy, then leave and think everything thing is great now (Iraq).

Spanking a dictator (Gaddafi) or terrorist (Bin Laden) who are in hiding won’t stop the problems until the target and likely associated high value targets are eliminated.  The U.S. should have learned this with Vietnam – a war that had no clear cut goals, ran half-assed, was highly politically ran, and the outcomes cost American and other lives.

The question of leadership was also raised by John Bolton, ex-UN ambassador who said last weekend that Obama was unqualified to lead (Source: CBS News).

So the Administration needs to take charge and have a clear cut plan with an outcome that does not leave the problems in place when we leave again. The current effort in Libya so far looks to be one toe in the water, most of the foot on dry land, the other foot, hands, arms, and head in other activities.

Additional information about the author:
Author has long followed global events, and developed military strategy games. While attending a major private University, author initiated a senior project where in 1993, wrote a research report titled: “International Terrorism: Challenge to U.S. Intelligence.”


Related Reading on Gaddafi (NetAdvisor.org)

Former Terrorist and Coup Leader Calls U.N. Security Council “Terrorists” 09-25-2009 (NetAdvisor.org)

Are You Smarter Than a Terrorist? 09-27-2009 (NetAdvisor.org)

Related Key Tweet History on Libyan-related Issues (NetAdvisor.org)

Frustrated by the lack of leadership over this issue, our organization began launching a series of tweets along with others on social networks to bring greater awareness on the issues. The following is a time-line of our Twitter account about Libya and noting the lack of policy leadership at the time in question.

03-15-2011 06:29AM: “#Gaddafi warplanes…bombed…Libyan rebel-held town…France failed to convince…no-fly zone to protect civilians. http://reut.rs/gd6xbD

03-15-2011 01:09PM: “#France fails to get #G8 accord on #Libya no-fly zone” (Reuters) http://reut.rs/i0zniT

03-16-2011 08:29AM#Gaddafi killing his own ppl, #Japan risks meltdown, #troops under fire #Afgan, Obama? = Discussing Basketball Brackets http://n.pr/fprPuD

03-16-2011 08:35AM: #Leadership??? Obama’s attention focused on “Basketball Brackets” at the WH (#ESPN #Video) http://espn.go.com/video/clip?id=6222472 (UPDATE: Video link has since moved here)

03-16-2011 08:53AM: #Gaddafi shells city, threatens rebel stronghold” (Reuters) http://reut.rs/gf13aC /// #Libya

03-16-2011 01:13PM: #Gaddafi pummels #rebels as war outpaces diplomacy” (Reuters) http://t.co/N2RUJGf

03-16-2011 01:16PM: #Libyan prince urges no-fly zone…(criticized the US, Russia others as “uncaring” toward Libya’s people) (Reuters) http://t.co/SXM2WOK

03-16-2011 01:32PM: @UN What’s the difference between Iraq’s fmr #Sadam and #Gaddafi? Both killed own ppl. Answer: The world did something about Sadam. #tlot

03-16-2011 02:27PM: What may just happen in #Libya is that #Gaddafi will seek to arrest, then kill or just kill remaining protesters. @UN doing anything. No.

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ESPN Video courtesy ESPN/ Disney (c) 2011

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