By bombing Libya, President Obama accomplished some things once thought absolutely impossible in America:
a) War-mongering liberals. Liberals are now chest-thumping about military "progress" in Libya. Even liberal television and radio cite ingenious reasons why an optional, preemptive American intervention in an oil-producing Arab country, without prior congressional approval or majority public support -- and at a time of soaring deficits -- is well worth supporting, in a sort of "my president, right or wrong" fashion. Apparently liberal foreign policy is returning to the pre-Vietnam days of the hawkish "best and brightest."
b) Europe first. Many Americans have long complained about the opportunistic, utopian Europeans. Under the protective U.S. defense shield, they often privately urged us to deal with dangerous foreign dictators -- while staying above the fray to criticize America, at the same time seeking trade advantages and positive global PR. But now the wily Obama has out-waited even the French. He has managed to shame them into acting with a new possum-like U.S. strategy of playing dead until finally even Europe was exasperated -- almost as if the president were warning them, "We don't mind the Gadhafi bloodletting if you, who are much closer to it, don't mind." The British Guardian and French Le Monde will be too knee-deep in the Libyan war, busy chalking up Anglo-French "wins" and worrying about European oil concessions, to charge America with the usual imperialism, colonialism and militarism. We are almost back to the 1956 world of the Suez crisis.
c) Iraq was just a Libyan prequel. Conservatives have complained that past opposition -- especially in the cases of then-Sens. Barack Obama and Joe Biden -- to George W. Bush's antiterrorism policies and wars in Afghanistan and Iraq was more partisan than principled. Obama ended that debate by showing that not only can he embrace -- or, on occasion, expand -- the Bush-Cheney tribunals, preventative detentions, renditions, Predator attacks, intercepts and wiretaps, and Guantanamo Bay, but now preemptively attack an Arab oil-exporting country without fear of Hollywood, congressional cutoffs, Moveon.org "General Betray Us"-type ads, Cindy Sheehan on the evening news, or "Checkpoint"-like novels. In short, Obama has ensured that the exasperated antiwar movement will never be quite the same.
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