Transcript: President Obama One-on-One With Diane Sawyer
President Obama sits down to talk with Diane Sawyer about the situation in Libya
March 29, 2011— -- DIANE SAWYER: Starting with Libya, as of this moment, any sign [strongman Moammar] Gadhafi wants out?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well, I think what we're seeing is that the circle around Gadhafi understands that the noose is tightening, that -- their days are probably numbered -- and they're going to have to think through what their next steps are. But -- as -- as I have been very clear about throughout -- there are certain things that are nonnegotiable. He's got to pull his troops out of -- places like Misrata that have been under siege, they're not getting water, they're not getting medicine. Humanitarian aid can't get in there. He's got to stand down with respect to his troops. There's certain things they can do -- that will send a signal that he's ready to go. Until that time, we're going to keep on applying pressure -- and -- you know, we had a conference today in London where you had scores of countries. European, Arab -- the United Nations -- the African Union, all coming together saying -- it was time for him to go. And hopefully -- he's going to be getting the message soon.
DIANE SAWYER: Looking at each end of the spectrum of possibilities, if Gadhafi ends up in a villa some place in Zimbabwe with no war crimes trial, is that OK with you?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well -- you know, that's not going to be my decision alone. I will tell you, though that -- the first step is for Gadhafi to send a signal that he understands -- the Libyan people -- don't want him ruling anymore. That 40 years of tyranny is enough. And -- you know, once he makes that decision -- I think the international community will come together, and make a determination -- as to what -- the most appropriate -- way of facilitating him stepping down will be. I certainly will be supportive of him -- being removed from power. And -- we're going to have to examine what our options are after that.
DIANE SAWYER: Have you made any -- or would you make any calls to say take him?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: We have not gotten to that stage yet.
DIANE SAWYER: Other end of the spectrum, of course, and we are hearing tonight as many people are, that it's -- it's fierce fighting, in Sirte, Ras Lanouf, may have been a little too far, a little too overreaching for the rebels tonight. If it is determined -- and I know it's not been determined yet -- that the U.S. must send munitions. Hard artillery into the rebels, how long would it take to get there?
PRESIDENT OBAMA: Well -- you know, I -- I wouldn't speculate on that. I think that -- it's fair to say that if we wanted to get weapons -- into -- Libya, we probably could. We're looking at all our options at this point. But keep in mind what we've accomplished.
We have instituted a no-fly zone that can be sustained for quite some time because it's an international effort. It's not just a U.S. effort. And so we've got scores of countries that are participating, including Arab countries like Qatar and -- the United Arab Emirates. That means he can't use any air power. His air defense systems have been completely disabled.
Because of the civilian protection mandate from the United Nations that -- NATO is participating in -- if he tries to advance towards Benghazi or some of these other major population centers where there's opposition, we can protect those populations. So, he's been greatly weakened. His forces have been degraded. But what's absolutely true is that if you measured his remaining capability to rebel or opposition capability then he's still more powerful on the ground in Libya.