Washington (CNN) - President Barack Obama is returning home Wednesday to a firestorm of criticism over his handling of the crisis in Libya, and mounting calls for a clearer explanation of U.S. policy in the war-torn North African nation.
The president, who just wrapped up a five-day trip to Latin America, has insisted that the goal of the U.N.-sanctioned military mission is strictly to prevent a humanitarian crisis. Specifically, the mission is meant to prevent a slaughter of Libyan rebels and other civilians by forces loyal to strongman Moammar Gadhafi.
Obama, however, has also said the administration's ultimate objective is Gadhafi's removal from power. U.S. officials have indicated they hope the dictator will be removed quickly by forces currently loyal to him, though they haven't publicly called for a coup.
"Gadhafi has a decision to make and the people around him each have decisions to make," Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said Wednesday. "We would certainly encourage that they make the right decision."
Critics on Capitol Hill and elsewhere are angry over what they consider inadequate administration consultation with Congress before the start of the military mission over the weekend. They also continue to have questions over the conflict's cost and consequences, as well as the U.S. endgame.
Obama himself conceded in an interview with CNN Tuesday that Gadhafi could "hunker down and wait it out even in the face of (the U.N.) no-fly zone, even though his forces have been degraded."
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