White House Now Says Goal In Libya Is Regime Change, Installing A Democratic System

If it’s Tuesday, it must be time for the White House to come up with a new goal for our mission in Libya:

The White House suggested Tuesday the mission in Libya is one of regime change, despite emphatic statements from President Obama and military brass that the goal is not to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.

According to a White House readout of a Monday night call between Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders “underscored their shared commitment to the goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will.”

In an e-mail, White House press secretary Jay Carney said the military mission was clearly focused on protecting civilians. He also noted Obama’s remark Monday that Gadhafi is no longer fit to lead.

From the onset of the strikes against Libya, senior administration officials have said the goal is to create an atmosphere where Libyan rebels would be able to oust Gadhafi from power.

The conflict between this newly stated policy and the provisions of UNSCR 1973 are fairly obvious, I think, which just serves to enhance the suspicion that the resolution is merely the camel’s nose under the tent when it comes to intervention in Libya. At some point in the coming weeks,  if it is clear that, despite the allied air campaign and the no-fly zone, the Libyan rebels are nowhere close  to ousting Gaddafi, the pressure for further intervention will grow.  At that point, I would expect to see the Administration’s rhetoric shift to demonization of Gaddafi (admittedly not a difficult task) in an effort to build support for a wider  campaign to oust him from power.


FILED UNDER: Africa, US Politics, World Politics, , , ,
Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug Mataconis held a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020. He passed far too young in July 2021.


  1. Franklin says:

    To be fair, the Administration (well, at least Hillary) has been saying Gaddafi is no longer a legitimate leader for at least a month. Similar statements back then also included calls for him to respect the will of the people (i.e. democracy). So I don’t think they’re saying anything new.

    The difference now is that the actions are getting closer to the words.

  2. Franklin says:

    Okay, it wasn’t quite a month yet, but this was a headline from February 28th:

    Hillary Clinton says Muammar Qaddafi must leave office ‘now, without further violence or delay.’

    The story on CSM also included this statement:

    And the US is keeping “all options on the table,” she added, to protect Libya’s civilian population and to encourage a transition to a legitimate government.

  3. legion says:

    I’m still not convinced it’s a good idea for us to be doing this, but I fully agree that once we were in the _only_ end result would have to be regime change.

    Let’s face it – if we’re doing this to protect the civilians and/or rebels from Big G using his military-grade goodies on them, we can’t ever leave until he’s out of power. He’s not exactly known as a ‘live and let live’ kinda guy, you know…

  4. TG Chicago says:

    To everybody recommending regime change: please recall what happened in Iraq back in ’91 where we just pushed Saddam back vs what happened in 2003 on when we actually created a power vacuum.

    You can want to ease the bloodshed, and you can want to see Gaddafi out of office. Both of these are reasonable desires. However, I don’t see them as compatible.

  5. Tsar Nicholas says:

    I can’t help but wonder: will the Internet’s liberal idiot brigades now run out to their parent’s garages and remove those “regime change begins at home” bumper stickers…

  6. Franklin says:

    Tsar- the difference is, liberals do it peacefully by voting.

  7. AllenS says:

    Who will be in office longer, obama or Qadaffi?

  8. Tano says:

    Why is it so difficult to get your little heads around the notion that the US policy, that Gadhafi should go, does not imply that the US has any intention of using military force to remove him. The revolution needs to be homegrown – if it will have any legitimacy, it must be a revolution owned by the Libyan people.

    The military effort is what it is – an act pursuant to the UN resolution for the protection of civilians.

    What is so complicated about that?

  9. Sean L. says:

    Tano: “What is so complicated about that?”

    The simplicity you seek lies rather in the question: “Why are we intervening here?” If your main concern is truly the “protection of civilians,” then there are countless better, cheaper and safer ways to do it than dropping bombs. Therefore, that must not be the reason for our actions.