During a town hall meeting in New Hampshire this morning, GOP presidential candidate Mitt Romney launched into a rambling and confusing attack on President Obama over his handling of U.S. involvement in U.N.-authorized NATO’s air campaign in Libya. In one of his first points, Romney said he hoped the president warned Qaddafi before NATO began enforcing the no-fly zone there last March:
ROMNEY: The President had three choices in Libya. The first choice, I hope he took, I don’t know that this has come out but … Before we carried out any kinetic military activity I hope we contacted Qaddafi and said, “Mr. Qaddafi, if you attack your people, if you put any aircraft in the air and you attack your own people, we’ll come shoot them down, we’ll take out your aircraft defense sites and you’ll see the full weight of the United Sates of America at your doorstep and over your country. We’ll put in place a no fly zone.”
Yesterday, in response to a call for action by the Libyan people and the Arab League, the U.N. Security Council passed a strong resolution that demands an end to the violence against citizens. It authorizes the use of force with an explicit commitment to pursue all necessary measures to stop the killing, to include the enforcement of a no-fly zone over Libya. […]
Now, once more, Moammar Qaddafi has a choice. The resolution that passed lays out very clear conditions that must be met. The United States, the United Kingdom, France, and Arab states agree that a cease-fire must be implemented immediately. That means all attacks against civilians must stop. Qaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata, and Zawiya, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya.
It’s unlikely President Obama “contacted” Qaddafi personally to make this warning. This is why the United States, and every country around the world, has diplomats. But assuming that Qaddifi has access to television and/or the internet, it’s probably fair to say that he got the president’s warning. Perhaps Romney just wasn’t paying attention at the time.