Announcing new international measures Friday against Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi, President Obama called it "just one more chapter in the change that is unfolding across the Middle East and North Africa." But some of the president's announcement seemed to take a page from a similarly historic announcement by his predecessor -- even though one senior White House official said making any connection is "reading too much into it."
Obama closed Friday's remarks by saying, "I've taken this decision with the confidence that action is necessary, and that we will not be acting alone. Our goal is focused. Our cause is just. And our coalition is strong."
Nearly a decade earlier, when President George W. Bush announced that U.S. forces were launching military strikes in Afghanistan, Bush said: "To all the men and women in our military ... I say this: Your mission is defined. Your objectives are clear. Your goal is just." Bush used similar wording in other remarks at the time.
Also on Friday, Obama said, "The United States did not seek this outcome. Our decisions have been driven by Qaddafi's refusal to respect the rights of his people and the potential for mass murder of innocent civilians."
On Oct. 7, 2001, Bush said of operations in Afghanistan, "We did not ask for this mission, but we will fulfill it. ... We defend not only our precious freedoms, but also the freedom of people everywhere to live and raise their children free from fear."
The senior White House official said "any similarity is coincidence," adding that neither Obama nor his speechwriters reviewed Bush's remarks from Oct. 7, 2001.
"Not to say President Bush didn't give a good speech (I recall that he did)," the official said in an email.
Nevertheless, in Friday's address to the nation, Obama noted that the decision to put American soldiers' lives at risk was a difficult one, "particularly at a time when our military is fighting in Afghanistan and winding down our activities in Iraq."
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