Having completed his three-state "Midwest listening tour," President Barack Obama is now on vacation on Martha's Vineyard. According to his handlers, in between golf outings and cocktail parties, our president also is working on yet another speech on how he will balance our government's books and put Americans back to work. Those who believe that ought to recall his remarks March 22, five days after U.S. and allied military operations began in Libya: "I said at the outset that this was going to be a matter of days and not weeks."
This week, we passed the five-month mark since U.S. and NATO airstrikes began in Libya. Nearly 30,000 air missions -- including more than 250 cruise missile strikes -- have been flown since Obama announced that the U.S. military's "unique capabilities" would be used to "take down Libyan air defenses." Rebel units armed, trained and supported by British and French special operations units are inching toward Tripoli, but Moammar Gadhafi remains in power, and his depredations against the Libyan people continue. On Tuesday, forces loyal to the dictator fired at least one Scud missile -- a weapon capable of delivering chemical warheads -- at opponents of his regime.
Though the ongoing "humanitarian mission to protect civilians in Libya" was approved by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, U.N. Secretary-General Ban Ki-Moon is having second thoughts. On Aug. 12, he issued a statement saying he's "deeply concerned by reports of the unacceptably large number of civilian casualties as a result of the conflict in Libya." Exactly what "unacceptably large" means was not explained, and calls to the U.N. press office were not returned. Nor are there any definitive numbers on how many have been killed or wounded since hostilities commenced March 17. Some human rights groups put the number at more than 30,000. So much for the president's claim that U.S. forces were being committed in Libya on a "mission to protect civilians."
Whether this claim and Obama's bogus "days and not weeks" comment were simply naive Utopian idealism, gross incompetence or outright duplicity, well, we may never know. What we do know is that the operation in Libya -- like the rest of the O-Team's hesitant, ambivalent and contradictory Mideast policy -- is a fiasco.
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.