Obama's Libya Speech Short on Specifics, Still 'Strong'

Reactions are mixed, but most agree he did a good job
By Evann Gastaldo,  Newser Staff
Posted Mar 29, 2011 9:54 AM CDT
US President Barack Obama speaks about US and NATO involvement in military action against Libya during a speech at the National Defense University in Washington, DC, March 28, 2011. AFP PHOTO/Saul LOEB   (Getty Images)

(Newser) – Last night, President Obama delivered the Libya speech that some have long been calling for. How did the world take it? A sampling of reactions:

  • Jim Geraghty wasn't impressed with the way Obama's "pretty-sounding phrases" were strung together "without really getting at the questions most skeptical Americans have: why intervene here and not in other places?" Ultimately, he writes in the National Review, "Obama’s speech amounted to, 'Look, I realize none of you understand my decision making, but at the end of the day, you can rest easy knowing I’m right.'"

  • Yes, Obama used some "sleight of hand," like "citing the UN Resolution as an external reason for war—when the US lobbied hard for it," writes Andrew Sullivan in the Atlantic. "But essentially Obama was challenging those of us who opposed this decision to ask ourselves: Well, what would you do?" Even so, Sullivan wasn't completely persuaded: "The major objection—what happens now?—was not answered affirmatively by the president."
  • OK, so the address "didn't address every future contingency," Mark Halperin admits. But, writing in Time, he offers six reasons the speech was still "strong," including Obama "believed every word of it" and "George W. Bush could have delivered every sentence." The latter, of course, meaning that "Obama’s vision of how to engage the democracy moment in northern Africa and the Middle East is in the strong bipartisan tradition and current centrist positions of American foreign policy."
  • William Kristol was reassured by the speech: "The president was unapologetic, freedom-agenda-embracing, and didn’t shrink from defending the use of force or from appealing to American values and interests," he writes in the Weekly Standard. "Furthermore, the president seems to understand we have to win in Libya. I think we will."

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