4 weeks and thousands of deaths later, President Obama allows American air power to intervene with the permission of 9 UN Security Council members (6 abstained!). No matter what the outcome the President has shown us how a college professor and philosopher would wage war, something we have never seen in our lifetimes, and hopefully which we never will again. And we gain yet more insight into how the Democrat party operates, and the hypocrisy of politicians.
Had the President intervened weeks earlier, when the rebels were on a roll and had Gaddafi on his heels, Gaddafi may have spent the last 3 weeks in exile in Argentina, or under a pile of rubble in one of his palaces. Thousands now dead would be alive. Instead, from the air, Gaddafi regained momentum and prevented rebels from entering Tripoli and overthrowing him, and he killed thousands in multiple cities from the air. Had we attacked early and forced Gaddafi out, there would be no talk about the NATO role vs. the UN role vs. the US military’s role.
If we get lucky and Gaddafi falls tomorrow, we will still have failed in so many ways and have set some extremely dangerous precedents. And we learned much about our President. Consider the following:
1. If you are a leader like Gaddafi and you want to slaughter the opposition, do it early. You know it will take at least a month for the international community to respond.
2. We have told the world that America under this President is not willing to lead. It is only willing to follow (in this case, follow France!). The basis of this is a philosophy of our President that somehow the world won’t like us if we lead. That somehow certain muslims and people in western Europe think we are imperialists, and to prove to them we aren’t we cannot lead. How did the opinions of such radicals become so important to us? Don’t they see us handing over Iraq? Don’t they see what happened in the Balkans? Are they blind to our efforts in Afghanistan as we spend blood and treasure to provide safety and human rights to millions of women? Do they not see the American flag on helicopters over every major world disaster as we drop food, water, and medical supplies to help people in distress? If they don’t see this or value it, then why the heck do we care about their opinion?
3. The President has done what he and Vice President Biden said was an impeachable offense. There is no twisting of words. During the campaign cycle of 2007 and 8 they said that if President Bush attacked Iran WITHOUT Congressional approval they would move for impeachment! That such an attack without the Congress would be unconstitutional. Now they are doing just that in Libya, and there are no words that can allow them to escape what they said then, and what they are doing now.
4. The silence from the White House is deafening. The President, Secretary of State, and Secretary of Defense have all been hiding from questions. For more than a week now American troops have been in the battlefield and none of the top 3 have been available to answer questions from the American people and the press. Were this a Republican administration the press and the Democrats would be screaming absolute bloody murder, nothing else would get coverage other than the silence of the administration. All we have gotten are prepared statements, short and sweet. No strategy, no goals, no challenging questions from a rightly uncertain and confused public. We have never, ever seen anything like this, and somehow it seems this administration is being given a bye from the press. Never should American forces be deployed like this without far more communication with our citizens. President Bush was completely engaged with the public on his actions, and while the grilling he took was brutal, he knew he had an obligation to do it. But no such communication from this administration.
5. Of course the reason they aren’t taking questions is obvious. They don’t know what their story is yet. On Thursday Secretary Clinton scheduled a press event (for a statement, not to take questions) at 6:15pm eastern time. It was billed to explain the plan going forward relative to the US role vs. the NATO role. As the cameras were cast on the podium, it remained empty until 7:10pm (presumably she was trying to herd the cats of NATO and the UN to gain agreement on a joint statement) at which time she came out and made a 4 minute statement that was utterly confusing and useless, and then she turned around and left the room. It was astounding television. This was an indicator of so many things, but most importantly it was a micro version of the macro situation. We have launched “war by committee”, with all the downsides that implies. Caught in the middle and at risk to this committee are our brave troops, and the people of Libya.
6. President Obama has scheduled a press conference for Monday. Why Monday, 10 days after we started the attack? Because he needs at least that much time to get his story together, to explain the NATO/UN/US nexus, and to in the meantime keep his fingers crossed that American air power and cruise missiles can somehow force Gaddafi to step down before this cluster-fudge takes shape (Gaddafi losing by then is a possibility, and one I hope occurs, as long as we don’t take from it a lesson that we did this one right).
I now must share one other important thought about how politicians put themselves and their political party ahead of the American people. The way Obama didn’t consult Congress is what stirs these thoughts in me. When I consider the Iran resolution in Congress that the Democrats conjured up during the Bush administration I become outraged. The Democrats were playing a game at all our expense. They knew President Bush had no plans to attack Iran, and if Bush did they knew he would not attack Iran without coming to Congress (as he did for both Afghanistan AND Iraq, and as Obama DID NOT with Libya). But they created this frenzy on the left and in the press, that Bush was planning a unilateral attack and it was imminent, and that they the Democrats must stop it. So much so that, they said, they had to pass a resolution in Congress to prevent the President from launching such an attack. Not only was this totally made up in order to make the President look like a war mongering unilateralist dictator at everyone’s expense. It also took off the table the shadow the American military can cast over despotic regimes. It was helpful for us and our troops in harms way for Iran to think we may attack, even if we had no real plans to do so. The Democrats, all for their own power, took that shadow away and let Iran know we weren’t coming, and not to worry about it. The effect was to make Iran more comfortable aiding Al Queda and supporting terrorism around the world, killing our soldiers and strengthening our enemies, and accelerate their pursuit of nuclear weapons.
This is all stirred up in my mind because we see how the President has been operating. All the blasting they did of Bush and his decisions, all of the public humiliation of him and his policies, how terribly the wars were proceeding, how Bush was a unilateralist (the subject of another post someday, completely false), how he violated the Constitution. And yet here they are doing almost all the same things with Gitmo and interrogations and Afghanistan and tribunals, and doing something Bush never did, which was attack a nation without going to Congress. All it was to them was a game to get them to power. Humiliate the President, shame the nation, discourage our troops, embolden the enemy– all to get themselves and their party elected.
Let’s hope for the best in Libya. But let’s also hope that we never approach a situation like this again. Lastly, we can only keep our fingers crossed that in 2012 we can unseat this absolute disaster we have sitting at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
With Qudhafi forces