Both Mr. Obama and Mr. Cameron said that while the mission’s objective – as laid out in a March United Nations Security Council resolution – is to protect Libyan civilians and not explicitly “regime change,” they could not imagine how the mission could end without the departure of Qaddafi.
“Time is working against Qaddafi, and he must step down from power and leave Libya to the Libyan people,” Obama said. “It is impossible to imagine a future for Libya with Qaddafi still in power,” Cameron said for his part. “He must go.”
Despite the two leaders’ singular vision on Qaddafi, Cameron was unsuccessful in convincing Obama to commit more and different US resources to the NATO campaign. The British and the French are reportedly planning to add attack helicopters to the mission arsenal.
Obama said the US would continue to deploy resources that are unique to the US military, such as the Predator drones that are assisting NATO bombing raids. But he cautioned against buying into the idea that the US is holding back some magic bullet that could end the campaign quickly.
“I think there may be a false perception that there are a whole bunch of secret super-effective air assets in a warehouse somewhere that can just be pulled out and that would somehow immediately solve the situation in Libya,” he said. “That’s not the case.”