Play Live Radio
Next Up:
Available On Air Stations
Make a gift today and you could win a trip to Portugal!

Was Libya A 'Recipe For Success,' As Obama Says?

<p>President Obama gestures during his appearance Tuesday (Oct. 25, 2011) on NBC's <em>The Tonight Show with Jay Leno</em>.</p>
Jewel Samad
AFP/Getty Images

President Obama gestures during his appearance Tuesday (Oct. 25, 2011) on NBC's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

The U.S.-NATO mission in Libya was a "recipe for success in the future," President Obama said Tuesday on NBC-TV's The Tonight Show with Jay Leno.

During a sober discussion that lasted several minutes, the president told Leno that he doesn't agree with critics who say the U.S. led from behind.

"We led from the front," Obama said, by "introducing the resolution in the United Nations that allowed us to protect civilians in Libya" and then by deploying U.S. pilots to destroy Moammar Gadhafi's air defenses and U.S. personnel to coordinate the air campaign.

In the end, said the president, the effort "only cost us $1 billion as opposed to $1 trillion" — a not-too-veiled comparison to the war in Iraq started by his predecessor. And, "not a single U.S. troop [was] on the ground ... not a single U.S. troop was killed."

"That, I think, is a recipe for success in the future."

As for Gadhafi, the president said that "obviously, you never like to see anybody come to the kind of end that he did, but I think it obviously sends a strong message around the world to dictators that people long to be free, and they need to respect the human rights and the universal aspirations of people."

You can hear and see the president's comments in this video clip.

Now, here's a question:

(Note: That's not a scientific survey. It's a question meant to spark discussion. We'll keep it open until the end of the day on Thursday.)

Copyright 2021 NPR. To see more, visit

Mark Memmott is NPR's supervising senior editor for Standards & Practices. In that role, he's a resource for NPR's journalists – helping them raise the right questions as they do their work and uphold the organization's standards.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.