Speaking alongside British Prime Minister David Cameron in London on Wednesday, President Obama said he was still confident that outside pressure would force Libyan dictator Muammar el-Qaddafi to eventually step down. He also said that the efforts in Libya already “have saved lives.”
“As long as we sustain the course that we're on, I think he's going to step down," Obama said. “We will continue to work with our partners to achieve that.”
Cameron went a little bit further, saying that Britain should be “turning up the heat in Libya” as a means for the “Libyan people to have a chance to decide their own future.”
But “turning up the heat” does not mean deploying ground forces.
“David and I both agree that we cannot put boots on the ground in Libya,” Obama said. “Once you rule out ground forces, there are going to be some inherent limitations to our airstrike operations.... 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 would somehow immediately solve the situation in Libya.... That’s not the case.”
Fresh from a barbecue at 10 Downing St. (in which Cameron joked he was able to give Obama a good “grilling”), the two leaders said they have spent their time together talking about “getting our people jobs and keeping our people safe,” in the words of Cameron. There was also time for a doubles table-tennis match, in which Obama and Cameron teamed up to play a couple of students, but Obama said he didn’t want to “rehash” the results.