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Monday, March 28, 2011

Beldar backtalks Obama on Libya

From the full "as prepared for delivery" version of President Obama's speech tonight, with my snarky backtalk interlineated in brackets and green text:

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people [I'm one such], and do whatever it takes to bring down Gaddafi and usher in a new government. [But that's an overstatement of our arguments. We're not suggesting tactical nukes, for example. We're suggesting that if we get a chance to end this through regime decapitation, we should take it, and indeed we should try to create such chances. Typical Obama straw-man argument, one of his favorite techniques.]

Of course, there is no question that Libya – and the world – will be better off with Gaddafi out of power. I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means. [That only works on dictators who are unwilling to shoot up their own population to stay in power.] But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake. [See, it's our mission, just not our "military" mission. Brilliant! Let's set a goal, and then rule out the most effective means of achieving it! Because the only thing we use force for is, umm, to blow stuff up to protect people from the guy we're carefully not targeting. Yeah, that's very clear now, thank you Mr. President.]

The task that I assigned our forces – to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a No Fly Zone – carries with it a UN mandate and international support. [Yes, and that U.N. Security Council resolution authorizes "all necessary means" so long as they don't involve opening a chow hall on Libyan dirt. For whatever it's worth, we have ample U.N.S.C. authorization to effect regime change by means that include regime decapitation. This is a victory your minions fought for and won at the U.N. — why aren't you using it?] It is also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. [The rebels asked us not to kill Kadafi? No, this is just a brazen misrepresentation by you, Mr. President. I think they would be very, very happy if we managed to kill Kadafi.] If we tried to overthrow Gaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. [Not if you did your job properly. Not even the Arab League wants to see Kadafi left alive. What's making them nervous is the collateral damage from the airstrikes you're already doing, not concern for Kadafi.] We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground, or risk killing many civilians from the air. [This from President Attack Drone?!? Seriously? And U.N.S.C. Resolution 1973 authorizes troops on the ground so long as they're not "occupying."] The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. [Not if you do your job properly, they would be lessened and the danger period shortened.] So would the costs [nope], and our share of the responsibility for what comes next [nope, either way, if America doesn't make it happen, nothing very good is going to happen].

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq. [Oh come on. Why not just chant "BusHitler! Cheney! Halliburton!" This passes for reasoned argument? That's not "blunt," it's imbecilic.] Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. [And you were wrong, wrong, wrong in everything you said or did about Iraq before you actually got into the Oval Office, Mr. Obama. Thank God for George W. Bush, but God forbid you might include his name in your thanks as you're taking credit for his results.] But regime change there took eight years [actually a bit more than three weeks, from March 20-April 15, 2003; it was not regime change, but the aftermath that took eight years], thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. [An amount which is less than you've increased just our budget deficit just for one year.] That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya. [What we cannot afford is seeing Libya, with its oil wealth, return to sponsoring world-wide terrorism and the pursuit of WMDs. We can't afford a nuclear 9/11.]

At least he did not repeat — as a quote-unquote "guarantee" — a promise that Kadafi will not be targeted. But that's still the net effect.

Pres. Obama at the White House today (official WH photo) There are a lot of other stray remarks from the speech that I hated. "I made it clear that Gaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power." The colossal narcissism of this dude is still breathtaking; he's deeply, deeply invested in the grandeur of those new clothes. He took a gratuitous shot at Bill Clinton and our NATO allies in an obvious attempt to try to excuse his own dithering: "To lend some perspective on how rapidly this military and diplomatic response came together, when people were being brutalized in Bosnia in the 1990s, it took the international community more than a year to intervene with air power to protect civilians." I'm sure the SecState was thrilled with that line.

I think he did a fairly good job of summarizing the humanitarian reasons for intervening. But he made only a feeble effort to claim a strategic reason by arguing that Kadafi was threatening to (further) destabilize neighboring Egypt and Tunisia, without bothering to explain why the U.S. has vital strategic interests in those countries. (We do in Egypt, not because of oil money that might again be misspent on terrorism (as in Libya), but because of the Suez Canal, the Aswan Dam, its borders and history with Israel, and the sheer size of Egypt's population. But frankly, we don't have vital strategic interests in Tunisia.) Thus, although I think there are very good answers to the question "Are we going to intervene everywhere else where a dictator is committing indiscriminate massacre of civilians," Obama didn't really even try to address that subject.

So I'm entirely unpersuaded by any of the excuses Obama offered for his policy of not killing Kadafi even if we get him cleanly in our sights. It makes zero sense. And I'm still at a complete loss to figure out who Obama thinks he's pleasing with that policy, unless it's just that he's trying to avoid further aggravating MoveOn.org and Code Pink and the Hard Left.

Posted by Beldar at 08:40 PM in Foreign Policy, Global War on Terror, Obama | Permalink

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Comments

(1) Tom J made the following comment | Mar 28, 2011 8:48:40 PM | Permalink

Welcome back, sir!

(2) thebardofmurdock made the following comment | Mar 28, 2011 10:29:56 PM | Permalink

Harvard Men At War

From up upon the podium in tailored suit and tie,
Between the flags of freedom crossed, and in the public eye,
The Harvard man made his address to critics, in reply,
And laid out for the audience his modern battle cry.

Recall that other Harvard man, who at the San Juan Hill,
Did call ‘Rough Riders, follow me!’ and led the charge until
The foot soldiers and cavalry were summoned by his will,
And overcame the enemy with valor and with skill.

Not for our modern Crimson man do words like those resound,
For in their stark grave melody is heroism found.
Instead we hear of diplomats who finally come around,
And handing off the fighting with no boots upon the ground.

So rally ’round the UN flag: we fight for powder blue!
Leave well behind the stars and stripes, and patriotic hue.
We’ll fight for days or weeks for sure, and then we’ll say adieu,
And hope our allies have resolve and heart to follow through.

(3) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Mar 29, 2011 1:31:23 AM | Permalink

Dear Mr. Dyer: Go on, great man. But stop with the "the UN resolutions are in our favor" business. Bunk. The UN is gang of verminous scoundrels who would be best off dead and frying on the hottest griddle of Hell. We will know the UN is no longer a corrupt, racist, on-the-make gang of blackguards the day al-Qaeda flies a plane into the UN building instead of the Empire State.

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(4) Beldar made the following comment | Mar 29, 2011 2:16:36 AM | Permalink

Mr. Koster, we agree about the U.N., but I wasn't commenting on it as an institution. I was commenting on the specific language -- and its breadth, which I believe gives the United States a great deal of flexibility -- of Security Council Resolution 1973. You usually read me more closely than that, I flatter myself to think.

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