But my first reaction is that I heard what I hoped to hear about this particular situation. Like so many of us in this country, I was worried about things like "mission creep" and the potential dangers of getting involved in another quagmire of a war.
No one knows exactly how the situation in Libya will end. But Obama was clear about a few things that reassured me he's thought out our role very well.
For example, after recounting what has happened over the last couple of weeks and announcing that NATO will take over command as of Wednesday, he said this:
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 Gaddafi’s remaining forces. In that effort, the United States will play a supporting role – including intelligence, logistical support, search and rescue assistance, and capabilities to jam regime communications. Because of this transition to a broader, NATO-based coalition, the risk and cost of this operation – to our military, and to American taxpayers – will be reduced significantly.
So for those who doubted our capacity to carry out this operation, I want to be clear: the United States of America has done what we said we would do.
That doesn't mean that we'll simply do what we've been doing...only less. We will shift dramatically to - as Obama said - a supporting role.
He also recognized that this is not the end of the road for Libya.
Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake...
As the bulk of our military effort ratchets down, what we can do – and will do – is support the aspirations of the Libyan people. We have intervened to stop a massacre, and we will work with our allies and partners as they’re in the lead to maintain the safety of civilians. We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supply of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight, as a badly weakened Gaddafi tries desperately to hang on to power. But it should be clear to those around Gadaffi, and to every Libyan, that history is not on his side. With the time and space that we have provided for the Libyan people, they will be able to determine their own destiny, and that is how it should be.
That's what I hoped to hear.