Obama in 2011: 'No Question That Libya ...Would Be Better Off With Gaddafi Out of Power'

July 28, 2014 - 7:33 AM

Gaddafi, Obama

Then-Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi and President Barack Obama in Italy on July 9, 2009. (AP Photo/Michael Gottschalk)

(CNSNews.com) - In a speech to the nation on March 28, 2011, President Barack Obama explained his decision to order military strikes in Libya -- without congressional authorization -- to stop dictator Moammar Gaddafi from killing his own people.

At the time, Gaddafi had not been ousted, but President Obama made it clear the regime change was the ultimate goal: "Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power," Obama said.

Nevertheless, Obama said the immediate goal of the U.S. military intervention was not to depose Gaddafi, but to "stop a massacre" and establish a no-fly zone. "As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do -- and will do -- is support the aspirations of the Libyan people," Obama promised.

Five months later, in Aug. 22, President Obama announced that the Gaddafi regime had come to an end, and again he promised U.S. support for Libya's anticipated transition to democracy:

"As we move forward from this pivotal phase, the opposition should continue to take important steps to bring about a transition that is peaceful, inclusive and just.  As the leadership of the TNC (Transitional National Council) has made clear, the rights of all Libyans must be respected. True justice will not come from reprisals and violence; it will come from reconciliation and a Libya that allows its citizens to determine their own destiny.

"In that effort, the United States will be a friend and a partner.  We will join with allies and partners to continue the work of safeguarding the people of Libya.  As remaining regime elements menace parts of the country, I’ve directed my team to be in close contact with NATO as well as the United Nations to determine other steps that we can take..."

One month later, in a Sept. 21 speech to the United Nations General Assembly, President Obama celebrated the fact that 42 years of tyranny in Libya had ended in six months, with the fall of Gaddafi: "From Tripoli to Misurata to Benghazi -- today, Libya is free. Yesterday, the leaders of a new Libya took their rightful place beside us, and this week, the United States is reopening our embassy in Tripoli.

"This is how the international community is supposed to work -- nations standing together for the sake of peace and security, and individuals claiming their rights. Now, all of us have a responsibility to support the new Libya -- the new Libyan government as they confront the challenge of turning this moment of promise into a just and lasting peace for all Libyans."

Almost three years later, this past Saturday, Secretary of State John Kerry announced the evacuation of the U.S. Embassy in Tripoli because of "the free-wheeling militia violence that is taking place in Tripoli."

"We are deeply committed and remain committed to the diplomatic process in Libya. Our envoy will continue to be engaged with the British envoy and other envoys...," Kerry promised.