Nothing he can say

President Obama

President Obama will address the nation tomorrow night to explain U.S. involvement in Libya. Or at least, attempt to explain.

How many times has he already tried to explain — first why he was keeping us out of Libya, then why we were going in.  It made sense for us to stay out and let the Greater Middle East handle its own problems. Especially when we’re already fighting two wars in the region. Then came the sudden about-face and commitment of American military resources to “support” our NATO allies when they decided to intervene.

Since then, the confusion has only increased. We’ll have only a support role. Then we were relinquishing a previously undeclared “leadership” role. Our stated policy is “Gadhafi must go” but the stated objective of the coalition is “strictly humanitarian.” If coalition forces leave without removing Gadhafi, nothing will have changed and the entire intervention will have been for naught.

The whole Middle East is erupting. Why did we decide to help only Libya? Rebels are dying in a lot of countries; so what’s the rationale for helping only the Libyan rebels? And if our intervention is justified for humanitarian reasons, why didn’t we also intervene to save the millions slaughtered in Rwanda, Darfur, and Zimbabwe?

Obama is an intelligent, highly educated man and can be an outstanding orator. But it seems unlikely he can explain himself out of this one. It’s too late. He should just announce the immediate (next day) withdrawal of all U.S. forces from Libya and leave the podium. Anything more is a waste of time and no one wants to hear it.

15 thoughts on “Nothing he can say

  1. The hope that Obama would be a good executive was a long shot, but even a long shot looks good compared to a vote for McCain. Having never held a job with any personal authority, or the responsibility for executing authority, Obama is apparently still making consensus oriented decisions.

    I envision closed door cabinet meetings with a show of hands prior to every decision. A show of hands, right after everybody in attendance consults their favorite pollsters. Seeing your chief executive bumping up against the Peter Principle on an international stage is an embarrassment – not only to him, but for the two major political parties and for all who banked on a long shot rising to the occasion.

    1. Your first sentence said it all. I’m still not sorry I voted for Obama; there was no acceptable alternative. That said, I sincerely hope the GOP nominates an intelligent, level-headed moderate in 2012 so I’ll have someone to vote for.

  2. I think there were acceptable options, just not Republican options. And… before you say it… since I’ve never voted in a national election (or local one either for that matter) that was decided by one vote, I don’t consider my vote for a third party candidate as “a wasted” vote. Good analysis, BTW.

  3. I guess I look at it like this. There are times when you can help another country, and times when you can’t. There are times when you can get away with doing something without immediately getting into hot water, and times when you have to keep your gun in your holster and wait. Helping Libya by keeping Qaddafi from killing civilians was one of those things that probably looked easy. The Arab League said yes to the no fly Zone. The UN gave a resolution. We weren’t going in for regime change, only to blow up some military forces that were about to slaughter a bunch of civilians. It looks like a quick easy operation. So what’s the down side? Potentially getting stuck in another war is one of them, but we can avoid that simply by saying no – we’re not putting troops on the ground. Air support and tactical support only.

    The real down side is for Obama himself. Politically this will be used against him. This was, in his mind, a good deed. It was done out of a desire to help keep people from being slaughtered. Good deeds don’t go unpunished. No matter how he spins this, someone will say he went to far and someone will say he didn’t go far enough. Others will say he should have consulted congress. And others will say we shouldn’t be getting involved. Still others will say, why aren’t we helping other countries too. There’s no end to these arguments. He did good where he thought he could get away with doing good. The question is, can he really get away with it?

  4. Hey Girl,
    You’re asking all the questions I’ve been asking too. Why Libiya and no other erupting middle eastern country. Since when do we use military force for ‘humanitarian purposes’? And why didn’t he get congressional approval? I think that’s part of the Constitution, isn’t it?

    1. I think the president doesn’t have to get Congressional approval unless it’s a formal declaration of war. The media are saying the last time that was done was at the beginning of WWII. Which means, I suppose, that Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan weren’t/aren’t really “wars.” I’m sure that’s a great comfort to the families of soldiers and civilians who died in those military operations.

  5. What on Earth is an “informal” act of war? How do you informally bomb and strafe people?

    The commander in chief has the unilateral power to engage the military in a DEFENSIVE action, but not in an OFFENSIVE action… like invading or bombing another country that hasn’t attracted us.

    If another country started trying to impose a “no-fly” zone on the USA, I think I can guarantee that we’d consider it an act of war without hesitation.

    I can’t put all the blame for this travesty on president Obama. As you’ve point out, congress has shirked it’s responsibility in this regard since the end of WWII. President Obama isn’t doing anything more than a host of president’s before him have gotten away with without the congressional constraint required by the constitution. We started down this slippery slope long before Obama arrived on the scene.

    1. Yep, all those former presidents did all kinds of sneaky (unconstitutional? illegal?) end runs to get around having to go to Congress for approval of their assorted foreign interventions. That’s certainly easier than having to win approval from a a pack of partisan knuckle draggers in Congress.

... and that's my two cents