U.S. forces continued to launch tomahawk cruise missiles into Libya Monday while officials in Washington insisted the campaign is not actually war. During a news conference in Brazil, where he was getting a new coat of gold for his 2009 Nobel Peace Prize medal, President Obama made clear his intent to define the public relations front.
“It’s important to remind the American people and the international community that we’re not at war with Libya or its people,” Obama said. “The proper term is ‘military action’; also acceptable are ‘humanitarian campaign,’ ‘international mission,’ and ‘peaceful, quiet rainfalls of soft-spoken fire.’ But under no circumstance are we at war with yet another country.”
The president has also taken pains to demand Col. Moammar Gadhafi step down, while recognizing that last week’s U.N. Resolution 1973 restricts the U.S. and its allies from directly ousting him.
“I’m not saying we’re trying to get rid of him, but if, say, he went on a ‘permanent vacation’ or suddenly ‘disappeared,’ that would be great,” Obama said with a wink and finger quotes. “Our goal for Col. Gadhafi remains a voluntary, freely chosen decision to leave power under threat of continued bombing.”
Obama suggested that other options may be used to accomplish the mission, such as freezing Libyan assets and convincing Lady Gaga to discontinue supplying the dictator with flamboyant costumes.
Meanwhile Monday, the U.N. Security Council kicked off a new debate over the proper spelling of the Libyan leader’s name.