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article imageAP issues fact check on President Obama's Libya mission speech

By Michael Krebs     Mar 29, 2011 in Politics
Following the speech President Obama delivered on Monday evening regarding the US-led coalition's military strikes on Libyan targets, the Associated Press issued fact checks on the matter.
In a speech delivered at the National Defense University, President Obama defended his decision to commit the US military to the implementation of a no-fly zone and to the participation in Libya's civil war.
However, the Associated Press, who has been embedded in the Libyan conflict from the beginning, offered an alternative narrative in a series of fact checks posted on Tuesday.
"There may be less than meets the eye to President Barack Obama's statements Monday night that NATO is taking over from the U.S. in Libya and that U.S. action is limited to defending people under attack there by Moammar Gadhafi's forces," the Associated Press analysis began.
On the question of the NATO handover, AP notes that the US has a controlling interest in NATO and that a transfer of this nature does not really translate into a transfer at all.
"OBAMA: 'Our most effective alliance, NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and no-fly zone. ... Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Gadhafi's remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role.'
THE FACTS: As by far the pre-eminent player in NATO, and a nation historically reluctant to put its forces under operational foreign command, the United States will not be taking a back seat in the campaign even as its profile diminishes for public consumption," AP reported.
Since the US is responsible for 22 percent of NATO's budget, and according to AP this is "almost as much as the next largest contributors — Britain and France — combined," it is not exactly a passing of the torch.
AP also questioned the position that Obama shared that the coalition's military purpose is to save civilian lives.
"OBAMA: 'Our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives.'
THE FACTS: Even as the U.S. steps back as the nominal leader, reduces some assets and fires a declining number of cruise missiles, the scope of the mission appears to be expanding and the end game remains unclear," AP reported.
Additionally, President Obama claimed to have derailed Colonel Gaddafi's troop advancements. AP disputed this claim.
"OBAMA: 'And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi's deadly advance.'
THE FACTS: The weeklong international barrage has disabled Libya's air defenses, communications networks and supply chains. But Gadhafi's ground forces remain a potent threat to the rebels and civilians, according to U.S. military officials," AP reported.
More reports of "carnage" emerged on Tuesday, according to CNN, underscoring AP's fact-check challenge.
More about Obama, Libya, Associated press, Civil War, Middle East
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