Right now the United States is dropping bombs on Libya and I still don’t entirely know what our nation’s position is on the matter. I do know it isn’t close to the vision of the world proposed by Senator and candidate Obama, one where such international intervention was morally wrong. It does seem like a watered down, let France lead, nod to the righteousness of the Bush vision, where the US gets involved in promoting liberty and toppling dictators in the Middle East. So what in the world is my reaction?
First and foremost, the United States is taking a backseat to France. This is bad and it is so Obama. Let the world make the decisions and follow. Earlier in the week Obama made it clear it was time for Qaddafi to leave. He didn’t seem ready and willing to do anything about it though. As France and other nations took the lead and started demanding a no-fly-zone, the White House stayed relatively silent and let others do the heavy lifting. Then after a week of France leading the way, that position changed and we had reports of a meeting with members of Congress so the president could lay out his war plan. Add a UN no-fly-zone and we suddenly have war.
Now normally when this nation goes to war or takes up arms against someone publicly, the President addresses citizens on a big scale. Usually prime-time and usually after a few days or weeks of PR to let the people know what in the world is going on. This president decided not to do that. Instead we had an address, at 2:22 in the afternoon, on a Friday after weeks of ignoring the issue and saying almost nothing.
That address basically said the United Nations had acted, we might help out militarily, there is no way we are sending ground troops. Then the President ran off to Rio. I’ve heard they interrupted basketball to show his message. I guess since Obama spent the rest of his week making brackets and because unemployment is so high, he just assumed the entire nation was home watching basketball on a Friday afternoon. I wasn’t, I was working, and I didn’t even see the news until after the missiles were sent Saturday morning much less than 24 hours later. Thanks for the heads up, I guess.
Now frankly, aside from the fact that we are taking a backseat to France in leading this Libya excursion and there has been no explanation of what the endgame is, I don’t care if we are bombing Gaddafi. The sooner that man is in hell or a Guantanamo Bay prison cell the better for the entire world. I am a conservative Republican who is all for killing tyrants when this nation has the opportunity. I also know there are many liberals, Democrats and others in this nation who wouldn’t agree.
For a decade now the left has painted Bush, Cheney and their doctrine of pre-emptive war and reshaping the Middle East for democracy as warmongering western hegemony. Bombing Libya and finding ways to arm and support liberty-loving protesters is the kind of thing George W. Bush would do. It is the kind of thing he should have done in Iran, Syria, Egypt and most of the Middle East. It isn’t the kind of thing Michael Moore and the left want.
Barack Obama made a name for himself by arguing against the Iraq War and that vision of the world. He moved up the primary process by positing himself as the anti-Hillary-Clinton who wouldn’t have voted for the War. Even though his actual record and stances seemed to defy that position, it is what the left thought they were voting for.
Yet how is this escapade in Libya any different? Is it because France and the United Nations are involved? Hate to tell you this, but France was all for no-fly-zones against Saddam. They just seemed to have a problem with finishing the job. No difference there. The United Nations passed countless resolutions against Iraq with threats of action if Saddam did not follow. Hussein ignored them, the United Nations ignored putting together a response. Bush just finally had the leadership to act.
There was an international coalition in Iraq even stronger than the one we have forcing the hand of Libya. Meanwhile despite all the talk from Hillary and company of being “duped” and rushed by the Bush administration, Bush and crew spent countless hours preparing this nation for war and laying out their argument. They didn’t come out on the Friday before a photo-op trip to a paradise resort to say, “oh by the way, we are going to war tomorrow, later.” They carefully detailed their plans to this nation, Congress and the international community.
The Bush administration’s line of reasoning for Iraq was rejected by Obama and his supporters before he was president. Now it is being embraced for Libya. That is a rather large contradiction worthy of an explanation or at the very least a little bit more than a few minutes of the president’s time on a Friday afternoon. Michael Moore seems to agree with me there. We will see if the rest of the nutty “anti-war” movement joins us in demanding some answers or at least specifics.
We also have no explanation of why Libya is different from other regions, like Iran. This administration sat back and watched Iran kill protesters with no real diplomatic or military response. They did little to help out in Egypt until it was clear Mubarak was on his way out. Why is Libya different? I have yet to see an answer. Will we take similar action in other nations whose leaders act the same? I have yet to see a clear strategy or vision for moving forward. Are we saying to other potential protesters and governments “take it all down, we will be here to help” or is this just some random act?
I mention all of this because there is no stated endgame. Obama along with his Democrat allies in the Senate and fellow 2008 candidates spent a great deal of time talking about the Bush administration lacking clear exit strategies. I never heard a strategy for entering Libya, let alone for exiting. As with everything else, I find that interesting and contradictory.
The stated mission appears to be driving Qaddafi out and the one thing excluded by the President is ground troops. Is success going to be measured by the exit of the tyrant or are we willing to settle for less? How far is the United States willing to go to achieve whatever mission we are on? Is there a plan beyond shooting some bombs and letting France coordinate this or are we creating yet another decade or more process of lightly bombarding a leader unwilling to leave and passing sanction after sanction to scare him? How much support will we give in a post-war Libya and how will we help seal their borders or rebuild what we destroyed? Basically, what will this cost in terms of blood and treasure and what is our plan?
We know almost nothing about what we are doing in Libya or what we plan to do there. We appear to be following a course of action using similar justification as we found to fight in Afghanistan and Iraq, a course denounced by the administration now implementing it.
Ground troops excluded, I see the George W. Bush vision of the world taking hold in the Obama administration only with less care, expression, transparency or competence. Considering we are still bogged down in the two places that vision of the world was already tested, these many years later, Obama’s actions should worry us all. While Bush may have been right about principal, the logistics were off and implementation proved more difficult than showing up and doing the right thing.
So watching this unfold in Libya, with the announcement and planning seeming rushed and careless, the objectives not stated, with little support for military action existing amongst our citizens at the moment, I am concerned about what we are embarking on. I hope for the best, which is a quick and decisive end. I just don’t know what end we are actually fighting for or how we plan to achieve it. In some way Bush’s groove seems to be back in the White House, the question is how did it get there and how long will it be followed?