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President Obama delivers key speech on Libyan mission at National Defense University (Video)
On Monday night, President Barack Obama said in a nationally-televised address given at the National Defense University that the United States had fulfilled its pledge to stop Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi from massacring his own people with "horrific violence."
The President pointed out that in just one month, "the United States has worked with our international partners to mobilize a broad coalition, secure an international mandate to protect civilians, stop an advancing army, prevent a massacre, and establish a no-fly zone with our allies and partners."
"The United States of America has done what we said we would do," Obama added.
The future U.S. role, he said, would be in support of the NATO-centered coalition which officially takes command of the mission Wednesday.
The speech highlighted the President's preference for the targeted and limited use of American diplomatic and military power, in tandem with multilateral efforts.
He defended his choice to add U.S. air power to the allied coalition arsenal as the wisest option in a debate that pits those who oppose any U.S. intervention in the civil war wracking the Middle Eastern country against those who wanted a more strenuous effort to overthrow Gadhafi.
Obama contrasted the U.S. experience in Iraq, where its armed forces have been engaged for eight years, to what his policies seek to accomplish in Libya.
"To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq," Obama said in a 27-minute address. "Regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars.
"That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya."
At the same time, he added, "To brush aside America's responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are."
The president also defended U.S. actions to date as those required not only to end violence on Libyan soil, but also to prevent refugees from engulfing Egypt and Tunisia, two neighboring countries where a slow process of democratization has begun in recent months.