Monday, March 28, 2011

Obama's Speech on Libya: 'Wherever People Want to Be Free — You Will Find a Friend in the United States'

After all the fancy words and lofty rhetoric --- and this was one hella lofty speech --- the key question remains unanswered: What if Gaddafi hangs on?

The president said NATO and our European allies would maintain a no-fly zone and continue to monitor threats to the security of the Libyan people. But the mission won't be successful as long as Gaddafi remains in power, free to launch brutal reprisals against the opposition when Western willpower falters. But check The Economist, with one of the best commentaries ever, "The Challenge of Libya: Where Will It End?":
Colonel Qaddafi is the Arab world’s most violent despot. In one day in 1996 his men killed 1,270 prisoners in a Tripoli jail. He has backed terrorism and assassinated dissidents. Western leaders were right to have given him a chance to turn a new leaf after 2003, when he renounced his nuclear programme. But when peaceful protesters marched for change a few weeks ago he shot them—seemingly with relish. Whatever the course of the coming weeks and months, do not forget that the colonel and his sons had vowed to slaughter the people of Tobruk and Benghazi, house by house. In the narrowest of senses, a mission that many said was pointless and too late has already chalked up one success.

Moreover, what happens in Libya, for good or ill, will affect its more hopeful neighbours, Egypt and Tunisia. Farther afield, even Syria is beginning to stir and its government may be tempted to be as ruthless as Libya’s ... If violence prevails in Libya, the momentum for peaceful change across the Middle East may drain away, as both autocrats and protesters elsewhere in the Arab world conclude that violence is after all an essential tool for getting their way.

I'll give it up for Obama on his forceful affirmation of our values. But I'm more critical than William Kristol, who's going all out with effusive praise: "You’ve Come a Long Way, Baby." But there's a split in the neoconservative camp. Jennifer Rubin likes the rhetoric but calls out Obama for weaseling on the exercise of U.S. hard power, "Obama’s Libya speech":
Obama can’t bring himself to embrace the view of those conservatives, you know the ones who pushed to liberate Iraq. (“Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future. But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.”) Moreover, he won’t, he told us in no uncertain terms — despite all the interests he outlined — use our military to remove Moammar Gaddafi. And this is where he became, frankly, incoherent. WHY aren’t we using our military? Ah, the price of multilateralism.


RINO said...

Over the past 10 years, I've come to fear the Neoconservative right more than the "Communist" left. When are these guys gonna figure out that we can't go around invading every country that doesn't suit us and expect them to metatastasize to be like us. You would think after what little we have gained in Iraq and Afghanistan at such an incredible cost would open their eyes to the failure of such policies. I miss the Grand Olde Party.

Jason Pappas said...

Obama is back in the "humanitarian interventionist" camp. It's a continuation of the Clinton-Blair policy which was also the Bush-Blair policy. Yes, I know he's not as forceful as Bush but that's only a matter of style. He'll wait longer for the coalition to form, talk more about the UN, escalate at a slower rate, etc. But make no mistake about it, he sees a large role for the US in international affairs.

By the way, his 2008 platform called for the US to play a larger role in international leadership. I think of it as broader but less focused. He fails to make American-interest the priority and organizing principle.

Mr. Mcgranor said...

A resounding boo--too the globalists of the new world order.