<p>The president's problems began well before he departed on his five-day sojourn south of the border. After all but ignoring anti-regime protests that began in Libya on Feb. 15, the O-Team flipped strategy on its head. Instead of deciding what needed to be done and finding allies to support it -- a process employed by American leaders for two centuries -- Obama turned the matter over to the United Nations and the Arab League to build an "international coalition" that could determine the outcome.
At the Pentagon, war planners were ordered to develop contingency plans for a no-fly zone over Libya. Warships, aircraft and Marines quietly deployed to the Mediterranean Sea -- an extraordinary process that continued despite requirements for U.S. military units to help Japanese relief efforts after the devastating earthquake and tsunami March 11.
By the time the U.N. Security Council finally passed Resolution 1973 on March 17 -- authorizing "all necessary measures ... to protect civilians" in Libya and "establish a ban on all flights" -- the U.S. Air Force, Navy and Marines were ready for action. French President Nicolas Sarkozy was ready to lead. Our president was not.
Unlike Francois Mitterrand, who denied Ronald Reagan's personal appeal to allow U.S. F-111s to overfly France for an attack on Gadhafi's terror bases in 1986, Sarkozy seized the moment and delivered a different message: "We're going with you or without you." The first airstrikes launched against targets in Libya on March 19 had nothing to do with a no-fly zone. French Rafale and Mirage aircraft attacked a Libyan armor column threatening rebel positions in Benghazi.
Oliver North is a nationally syndicated columnist, the host of War Stories on the Fox News Channel, the author of the new novel Heroes Proved and the co-founder of Freedom Alliance, an organization that provides college scholarships to the children of U.S. military personnel killed or permanently disabled in the line of duty. Join Oliver North in Israel by going to www.olivernorthisrael.com.