Though he couldn't have planned for the unforeseen events in Libya, when they happened, a light bulb eventually went off in his head, signaling that this was his moment to practice what he'd been preaching and to demonstrate how America has changed under his leadership.
His primary goals are neither to oust Gadhafi nor to rescue the Libyan rebels for humanitarian reasons, for if ousting an evil dictator or protecting his victims were the motivation, he would have intervened in any number of other places. His apparent vacillation and indecisiveness must be viewed in the context of his overarching goal: to change America's approach from "unilateralism," which it never was, to radical, deferential multilateralism replete with ceding our sovereign decisions to international bodies -- and to change our image.
Obama was not even slightly equivocal about deferring to international bodies for decisions on prosecuting this "kinetic military operation." This would be his showcase to prove to the world that he fully intends to remake ugly America into a place that he and his wife will no longer be ashamed of.
The tragic irony of Obama's approach is that it is so wrongheaded and counterproductive. Groveling to Hugo Chavez didn't make him like us or even Obama. Chavez smelled "sulfur" in Obama's presence, too. Nor did Obama's pandering to the Iranian mullahs earn him anything other than their contempt. Indeed, his "approval" ratings in the entire Muslim world are as wretched as those of the dreaded George W. Bush.
Also, Obama has not been able to close Gitmo or reverse the other "evil" Bush terrorism policies. None of these obsequious gestures has borne positive fruit; they have just caused U.S. prestige to be diminished in the eyes of those whose friendship can't be won but whose fear and respect are essential to our national security. Terrorist recruitment will continue apace, thank you. Everyone in the world knows, despite Obama's obscene nod toward "multilateralism," that America is still carrying the laboring oar in the bombing sorties in Libya. We are sure to get all the blame and little of the credit.
But Obama will remain as clueless, impervious and intransigent about the ineffectiveness of his foreign policy as he is to the proven failures of his domestic ones, and he'll learn no lesson from any of this. In his eyes, he is remaking America for the better -- and that's the only way he's capable of seeing it.