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Obama defends U.S. role in Libyan no-fly zone

U.S. President Barack Obama makes a statement on the worsening nuclear crisis at the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear power plant in northeastern Japan March 17, 2011 at the Rose Garden of the White House in Washington, D.C. Obama said that harmful level of radiation is not expected to reach to the U.S.

UPDATED REPORT:

JEREMY HOBSON: President Obama will speak tonight about the situation in Libya. And he's expected to answer Congressional critics who want more consultation and communication about how much the no fly zone is costing U.S. taxpayers.

Our Washington Bureau Chief John Dimsdale is with us live to talk about all this. Good morning John.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Hey Jeremy.

HOBSON: So is the money likely to be a big focus of tonight's speech?

DIMSDALE: Yeah, absolutely. The president is going to have to answer critics who wonder what has the U.S. gotten itself into. Members of Congress, who come back in session today, say that, 'Hey, we've been making real tough choices to trim spending, but you Mr. President, without getting our approval, have made what seems like an open-ended commitment to spend more money on yet a third military front.'

Here's Republican Senator Richard Lugar on 'Meet the Press' yesterday.

RICHARD LUGAR: But who knows how long this goes on? And furthermore, who has really budgeted for Libya at all?

HOBSON: And John, how might the President answer those questions?

DIMSDALE: Well, he'll say that military action is going quickly, successfully relatively cheaply. But then there's also the question of what sort of goal he has in mind in a post-Gaddafi Libya.

Budget analyst Gordon Adams at American University says there will have to be some sort of financial help for the new government.

GORDON ADAMS: I would expect then some more normal kind of assistance package to come forward. But I don't see it as stabilization, reconstruction, long term occupation kind of exercise. That would be a lot more expensive.

And the President will also have to answer what will be the cost to the U.S. if other nations in the Middle East -- Yemen, Jordan, Syria -- also require western help to protect civilian protesters from their governments.

HOBSON: Marketplace's John Dimsdale in Washington, thanks John.

DIMSDALE: My pleasure.


ORIGINAL REPORT:

JEREMY HOBSON: President Obama will speak tonight about the situation in Libya. And he's expected to answer Congressional critics who want more consultation and communication about how much the no-fly zone will cost U.S. taxpayers.

Our Washington Bureau Chief John Dimsdale is with us live to talk about all this. Good morning John.

JOHN DIMSDALE: Good morning Jeremy.

HOBSON: So it does seems like, with the situation in Libya, the focus is turning the budget.

DIMSDALE: Yeab, both republicans and democrats are asking some really pointed questions. For example on 'Meet the Press' yesterday, Senator Richard Lugar, who's the top Republican on the Senate Foreign Relations Committee said that it makes no sense for Congress to be cutting budget items and making tough decisions to cut the deficit, while the White House continues to spend money in Libya.

RICHARD LUGAR: But who knows how long this goes on? And furthermore, who has really budgeted for Libya at all? I have not really heard the administration come forward saying that we're going to have to devote these funds, folks. And therefore something else will have to go or it simply adds to the deficit.

HOBSON: And John, President Obama is speaking tonight. How might he answer that kind of criticism?

DIMSDALE: Well, he'll probably downplay the cost. He'll say, yes, at the beginning there were some very expensive operations -- moving navy ships and planes into position. And firing several hundred of those Tomahawk missles at nearly $1 million each. But he'll say those operations were successful, but for the most part they're over. With other countries now sharing the costs in the future -- the U.N., Arab League has asked for this, NATO is now running the entire undertaking -- he'll argue this has been very cost effective.

HOBSON: Marketplace's John Dimsdale in Washington, thanks John.

DIMSDALE: Thanks.

About the author

As head of Marketplace’s Washington, D.C. bureau, John Dimsdale provides insightful commentary on the intersection of government and money for the entire Marketplace portfolio.

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