Admittedly, the administration's Libyan actions are yet to be convincingly explained and may constitute an unforced error that could lead to entanglement in a prolonged and unnecessary war. But Libya is nonetheless a historic sideshow. So far, not a single American casualty has been reported. And while our intervention may turn out to be a mess and an embarrassment, Libya's tangential connection to larger events makes it unlikely to become a geopolitical disaster.
On the other hand, in Iraq, we have lost a reported 4,443 troops killed and more than 30,000 wounded (many of them grievously and agonizingly mutilated). It has taken such a heartbreaking price, but we now have moved tantalizingly close to genuine success.
But if we now remove all of our remaining troops, and it all degenerates into tragedy, that decision will weigh heavily on the historic judgment of the Obama presidency.
And yet, according to the White House's own homepage:
"The President intends to keep our commitment under the Status of Forces Agreement to remove all of our troops from Iraq by the end of 2011."
That is consistent with his campaign promise, and it completes the execution of that agreement entered into by President Bush and the Iraqi government. But it has long been expected that the two governments would negotiate an extension of the time when our troops must leave because both Iraq's and most of our military and diplomatic experts do not believe that Iraq is ready to govern itself without the stabilizing effect of substantial continued American troops presence and activity.
But due to domestic Iraqi politics, their government has not yet asked for an extension. And if Obama sticks, legalistically, to his position, time may run out.
As a commendable editorial in last Sunday's Washington Post (calling for Obama to quickly negotiate an extension for our troop presence) pointed out, if our troops are forced to leave at the end of the year: "... military experts warn, next year Iraq will lack critical defense capacities: It will be unable to defend its airspace or borders, protect oil shipments or platforms in the Persian Gulf, or partner with U.S. special forces in raids against al-Qaeda.
"Perhaps most seriously, American soldiers who have been serving as de facto peacekeepers in the city of Kirkuk and along the sensitive border zone between Iraqi Kurdistan and the rest of the country will disappear. Many experts believe that in their absence violence could erupt between Kurds and Arabs."
Blankley, who had been suffering from stomach cancer, died Saturday night at Sibley Memorial Hospital in Washington, his wife, Lynda Davis, said Sunday.
In his long career as a political operative and pundit, his most visible role was as a spokesman for and adviser to Gingrich from 1990 to 1997. Gingrich became House Speaker when Republicans took control of the U.S. House of Representatives following the 1994 midterm elections.