President Obama on Wednesday condemned Libya's violent crackdown against a widening anti-government movement, saying the "suffering and bloodshed is outrageous, and it is unacceptable."
But Obama did not call for a change in Libya's autocratic government or announce specific sanctions that the United States would support to punish the country for actions that he said "violate international norms and every standard of common decency."
"Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need and to respect the rights of its people," the president said in his first public comments about the Libyan revolt. "It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities and face the cost of continued violations of human rights."
Obama delivered his statement amid criticism of his muted response to the violence and a growing sense that, as the Arab Middle East and North Africa churn through a period of abrupt change, the White House remains behind on the events and overly cautious in responding to them.