My recent harshness about the President comes as a bit of an “own goal.” We did not have to get involved – an Arab dictator is oppressing his people…that is hardly news, or, unless our interests are directly involved, not our issue. Also, given the perilous state of our finances and our already full military plate, it is simply not prudent to indulge in superfluous actions. But, there I go again…once I get started on any logic train thinking about this I find myself banging the keyboard and crying out loud in frustration.
What is obvious is that our president is making all of this up as he goes along, and is clearly not listening to Secretary Gates. Having been talked into easing the consciences of Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, President Obama is now dealing with the fallout. Having made a rash proclamation that Gadhaffi must go, he is being pulled to inevitable conclusions: an American president always seems bound to back his statements; if he’s protecting the Libyan people from Gadhaffi, the only real solution is regime change; if the rebels can’t do it, then he’s got to do it. This ‘doubling down’ effect is obvious in the new debate about arming the rebels. Arming rebels we don’t know or understand, but who we know have an al Qaeda component is insane. But, this whole episode is borderline ludicrous. With the basics of the strategy so awful, I find it hard not to be very, very critical.
I don’t see how this was handled “well,” nor do I see Egypt as being in the ‘well done’ category. The long-term implications of undermining an ally will not be lost on this region: not by the Arabs and not by the Israelis. He now has an established track record as an unreliable partner. It’s already bit us in Bahrain . And, if we’re looking for places ancillary to our interests to ‘do good’, how about Ivory Coast, where a brutal dictator is currently engaged in killing his people. I am also increasingly angry about the sheer mendacity on display: “kinetic military action”; “we won’t be involved on the ground” (when we have CIA operatives there now); “humanitarian mission” when we’ve moved in A-10s and AC-130s to fly close support for the rebels. And, please, please don’t forget the abuse of the War Powers Act (to say nothing of Congress’ sole discretion to authorize military action) as we were not threatened with imminent attack, and his ‘notification’ efforts were perfunctory in the extreme. Waste, and sheer, utter, unmitigated incompetence always disappoint me. When it involves the treasure of the nation, and potentially the lives of our servicemen, it is unconscionable. Sorry, but this just boils my blood.