President Obama's speech on Monday night was, at best, OK. It got tongues wagging about the "Obama Doctrine" which appears to be: "If it won't drag Iran into the fight we'll take a look."
To use a hated football metaphor, it was a speech which should have been given in the locker room before the combatants ran out onto the field (remember this is a metaphor).
I think it was comedian Steven Wright who once asked: "Isn't a simile like a metaphor?"
Obama's speech was the equivalent of calling time-out in the middle of the first quarter and telling the troops to get in there and fight, fight, FIGHT!
This lack of any sense of timing has bedeviled the Obama Presidency from its earliest days. In 2009, Obama (and his allies in Congress, Nancy Pelosi and Harry Reid) sent Democrats home for the August recess to sell a health care bill with no details as to what it might contain.
Opponents to Obamacare defined the worst possible elements of an unwritten bill, showed up at town hall meetings, and shouted down Members of Congress giving voice to the same kind of "kick them out" mentality we're seeing today (sans tanks, artillery, and AK-47s) in the Middle East and North Africa.
As an example of Obama's timing tone-deafness, he said in his speech Monday night "tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi's deadly advance."
Unfortunately Gadhafi must not have been tuned in, because the USG's own Voice of America ran a headline on Tuesday, "Pro-Gadhafi Forces Drive Back Libyan Rebels." And the Canadian "Globe and Mail" posted a piece at 12:30 PM Tuesday reading:
Libyan government tanks and rockets pounded rebel forces into a panicked full retreat Tuesday after an hours-long, back-and-forth battle that highlighted the superior might of Moammar Gadhafi's forces, even hobbled by international air strikes.The White House had better take down that rhetorical "Mission Accomplished" banner.
I'm not rooting for Gadhafi. I am pointing out the astonishing lack of strategic sophistication which is being exhibited by Obama and his Administration by declaring success when the situation on the ground is so fluid.
Did no one think about calling the Pentagon for an update? Wait. The President was at Ft. McNair. Someone could have briefed him in the holding room.
Maybe, because of the President's desire to make it clear that it is NATO and not the U.S. which is in charge of this operation, there was no one at Ft. McNair who actually knew what was about to happen on the ground in Libya.
About that NATO fiction. Here's what the Associated Press had to say about it in a "Fact Check" on the President's speech:
The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO's budget, almost as much as the next largest contributors - Britain and France - combined.
A Canadian three-star general was selected to be in charge of all NATO operations in Libya.
His boss, the commander of NATO's Allied Joint Force Command Naples, is an American admiral.
The admiral's boss is the supreme allied commander Europe, a post always held by an American.
So, other than that Canadian three-star (who will be working out of Naples) it looks an American operation all the way.
Another instance of oddly used military jargon appeared yesterday afternoon when it was announced it would take "another day or two" to hand over control of the Libyan operation to NATO. According to NBC's Courtney Kube, a senior administration official said the delay wasn't unexpected because the handover is "a major muscle movement."
Leave it alone. We all know which noun we would substitute for "muscle."
According to Reuters, that Canadian general, Charles Bouchard, helped out when he told reporters asking about the date of the handoff that "this is a very complex operation...the exact date is soon."
So, if the exact date is "soon," the approximate date would be what … "whenever?"
Of the 22 members of the Arab League only one, Qatar, has flown actual sorties. All 28 members of the African Union are equally content to let the United States not lead the un-war in Libya.
"Days, not weeks" looks like it is going to morph into "months, not years."
Just in time for another speech.
On the Secret Decoder Ring today: Links to the Voice of America, and Globe & Mail stories. There is a link to the main NATO webpage and a small mp3 file which you can use to practice pronouncing "Qatar."
Also a pretty amusing Mullfoto and a Catchy Caption of the Day.