Obama: AWOL on the Arab Spring

March 18th, 2011 at 10:46 am | 57 Comments |

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The Libyan regime’s declaration of a ceasefire only hours after the United Nations authorized the use of military force against the regime demonstrates what real leadership and the threat of force can achieve.

Unfortunately, this leadership, I regret to say, did not come from President Obama and the United States: It came from Britain, France, the Arab League, and Libya’s renegade ambassador, Ibrahim Dabbash, all of whom have been pleading with the United Nations to act.

To be sure, the Obama administration deserves credit for belatedly agreeing to support a no-fly zone in Libya — and not just a no-fly zone: The new United Nations resolution also authorizes “all necessary measures… to protect civilians and civilian populated areas, including Benghazi, while excluding an occupation force.”

So, finally and belatedly, the door has been opened to effect regime change in Libya. (The language about “excluding an occupation force” is troubling. Still, the resolution seems to allow for the use of allied ground forces or special forces, which, in all likelihood, will be integral to success.)

There’s only one problem: It’s not at all clear that President Obama supports forcibly removing Gaddafi from power. He and his foreign policy team have sent decidedly mixed and conflicting messages about their objectives.

This is a real concern because we don’t know whether Gaddafi’s cease-fire is a ruse or delaying tactic designed to buy him time and space, or a genuine acknowledgement that his position as dictator is untenable.

On March 3, Obama said that Gaddafi “needs to step down from power and leave.” However, at least so far, Obama has done nothing, really, to ensure that that happens. He has not been leading; he has been following — and that’s the problem.

There is, after all, a democratic revolution underway in the Middle East and North Africa. The people there are rising up against corrupt autocracies and demanding greater personal and political autonomy.

As the world’s greatest and most influential democracy, the United States has an inherent interest in supporting and promoting democratic change, preferably by peaceful means, but by force if necessary. This because democracies tend overwhelmingly to be more peaceful, less threatening and more economically dynamic.

Thus it should be the announced policy of the United States government to support worldwide democratization — prudently and incrementally, of course, but deliberately and decisively nonetheless. But that requires an overarching strategic vision which is conspicuously absent in this White House.

Consequently, Obama has been weak and indecisive when he should be bold and audacious. He has fiddled and dithered when he should be planning and acting. He has responded belatedly and unsurely to events rather than proactively shaping the strategic landscape.

And thus far, it must be admitted, this mostly has worked for Obama: He’s been lucky. The Egyptian revolution, for instance succeeded in spite of his weakness, not because of it.

Libya, moreover, seems at last to have turned a decisive corner — though I hasten to add that it is far too early to tell for sure. Libya may turn out well or badly; we just don’t know yet. Success or failure will depend on whether Obama finally can summon the requisite leadership on the world stage at a time of great uncertainty and confusion.

One thing, though, is clear: Without American leadership, democratization in Egypt and Libya, the Middle East and North Africa, is at a decided disadvantage. The risk is that Iranian and Islamist influence and money will hijack their democracy movements and turn the Arab and Islamic spring into a cold and austere winter.

This would be a strategic disaster for the United States. Thus we have a clear and unequivocal vital national interest in checking Iranian and Islamist influence and promoting democratic change and transformation.

Yet sadly and not surprisingly, the man who campaigned on “hope and change” has been coldly indifferent to the opportunity to effect real hope and change in the one place where it is most needed: the Middle East and North Africa.

As Zalmay Khalilzad wrote in Wednesday’s Washington Post,

We are at a key juncture. As in Europe in the 19th and 20th centuries, the dysfunction of the Middle East today generates the most threatening challenges to the international community.

The largely peaceful, youth-oriented, democratic revolutions across the region present an opportunity to catalyze a fundamental transformation. Partnering with other responsible actors, we should take reasonable steps to facilitate and consolidate this shift in the Middle East.

As befits a former diplomat, Khalilzad understates both the challenge and the opportunity that now confronts Obama and the West. The challenge is the unraveling of the old and corrupt autocratic order in the Middle East and North Africa. The opportunity is to replace that corrupt order with something much better, more modern and more in accordance with vital American security interests.

Unfortunately, we have as president a man seemingly blind to the historical significance of the events now unfolding. Indeed, Obama has been dragged by leaders and events outside of his control to a place he’d rather not be: to a revolutionary moment that cries out for American leadership.

“The nation that I’m most interested in building is our own,” said Obama at West Point on Dec. 1, 2009. That was Obama’s excuse for announcing a timeline for withdrawal from Afghanistan. But as our president is discovering, American can’t withdraw from history. The winds of historical change are too strong for any nation, even the United States, to withstand.

America can either shape history or be shaped by history. Obama seems to prefer the latter course of inaction; but it is resolute action that he must take — in Libya, Egypt and elsewhere. Now.

John Guardiano blogs at www.ResoluteCon.Com, and you can follow him on Twitter: @JohnRGuardiano.


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57 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    “Yet sadly and not surprisingly, the man who campaigned on “hope and change” has been coldly indifferent to the opportunity to effect real hope and change in the one place where it is most needed: the Middle East and North Africa.”

    He campaigned to be President of the United States, not of the world; and not going all cowboy into a THIRD war with almost no allies other than an exhausted Britain DOES represent “hope and change”.

    “America can either shape history or be shaped by history.”

    Tell me – how did the previous neo-con attempts to shape history turn out?

    Here’s an idea: maybe it was worth it to wait until Russia and China were tacitly on board? When was the last time that happened. Also, if another Arab dictator is toppled without America trying to impose the outcome, you know who loses, other than said dictator? Al Qaeda, who once again have their myths exposed.

    I know you are disappointed. You want to kill people, and you want to see aircraft put into action in order to justify buying more of them.

    However, you are wrong – even more-so than usual.

  • ram6968

    preferably by peaceful means, but by force if necessary…you mean like invading Iraq? mr gaurdiano, it would seem, writes his column for the mentally challenged…

  • mlindroo

    > And thus far, it must be admitted, this mostly has worked for Obama: He’s been lucky.
    > The Egyptian revolution, for instance succeeded in spite of his weakness, not because of it.

    Having read Guardiano’s crap, I remain grateful GW Bush and his neocon minions are no longer in charge of U.S. foreign policy. How refreshing to have a President who THINKS before acting for a change.

    MARCU$

  • Gus

    Well, hell, why stop there? Why don’t we intervene in the Ivory Coast? And in Bahrain, a Shiite majority is being oppressed by a Sunni minority, currently being propped up by our good buddies, the Saudis. Maybe we should attack Saudi Arabia. What is our interest in this conflict? Can you assure me that the rebels will be good democrats, and that whatever government that would arise out of this movement won’t seek revenge on Gadaffi’s tribe? Look how swimmingly our adventure in Iraq went, do we want another one like that? I keep hearing about how broke we as a country are, but neocons seem to forget about that when the opportunity for more war comes up.

    • Watusie

      And let’s not forget that any US military intervention would have to be put on hold as soon as the Gaddafi announced there was a fetus in the target area.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    John, John, John, what have you been huffing?
    The Libyan regime’s declaration of a ceasefire only hours after the United Nations authorized the use of military force against the regime demonstrates what real leadership and the threat of force can achieve.
    Unfortunately, this leadership, I regret to say, did not come from President Obama and the United States:

    No one has been beating the drums for a DMZ and a no fly zone greater, louder, or longer than I.
    To be honest the only cover I believed that was necessary or even possible was from the Arab League, but the UN resolution that Obama secured, and yes, of freaking course it was Obama, truly put the nail in Gadhafi’s coffin.

    I must say I am stunned and impressed at his statecraft to have gotten both Russia and China to agree not to veto the resolution, even though this runs contrary to both of these countries stated positions. Remember Clinton could not get UN authorization in Bosnia and Kosovo and it was strictly a NATO affair.

    Your not acknowledging what truly was brilliant statecraft, far in excess what I would have imagined was possible, is simple churlishness.

    While the exact same scenario I called out for has come to pass (which shows just how much of a no brainer it must have been if I called out for it) I was wrong in not realizing that Obama could pull off a UN resolution. Now I am sure he has had this in his pocket all the time so he could afford to be patient for the gears of diplomacy to wind through.

    Now what Libya has done to China and Russia to so piss them off is what I wonder. Their not vetoing the resolution and allowing that DMZ and no fly zone is extraordinary.

    But yeah, pretend it was the French that convinced them.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    *shakes head*

    I really would love to respond to this, but it’s such a muddled disaster that I wouldn’t know where to begin.

    Watusie, thanks for saving me some of the trouble. The fact that Guardiano could somehow warp “hope and change” — a slogan as much about opposing foreign interventionism as anything else — into a claim that this imposes a responsibility on Obama to engage in foreign interventionism, just shows how completely divorced from reality the neocon warmonger camp has become.

    I thought conservatives were supposed to support the Constitution? I thought the president was supposed to serve the interests of the AMERICAN people, not those of Libya or Egypt or the UN?

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Let me also add to those so quick to condemn Guardiano, the strategic scenario I laid out, a no fly zone and a demarcation line, essentially a DMZ, and which has been the exact strategy adopted by the West, had me labeled a war mongering Nazi to the right of Genghis Khan, and such a policy could never work…and what an idiot I was…must I pull up the quotes? Lo and behold after this plan was ratified my exact expectations of a cease fire occurring occurred.

    I said there was no way in hell Obama would allow Benghazi to be raised and millions of refugees spill into Egypt which would have had devastating consequences…and I was told let the Arabs handle it, or the French, it wasn’t our business and besides, wouldn’t even work.

    Gus, this was ratified by the UN, the freaking UN. If you want to be an isolationist then be so.
    Everything was handled by the book of international law and diplomacy. What more can you possibly want? Gadhafi is universally acknowledged as an international outlaw outside of even the United freaking Nations.

    This is a superb triumph of law and diplomacy backed up with threat of credible force (which Guardiano ignores as being completely American run) that we have not seen since Bush I built the UN coalition to drive Iraq from Kuwait.

    I literally feel exultant. Benghazi will not be razed, there is a cease fire. Gadhafi and his clan will now have to assess their own long term survival and hopefully will pull a Baby Doc and go to Saudi Arabia.

    And stating “what are the rebels…yada yada” is beside the point. Do Firefighters go to a house and say…hey, of all the people trapped inside, women and children included, are any bad people because if so, we should let them all burn to death?

    • Watusie

      If you DO decide to pull up quotes, don’t forget the ones where you berated Obama for dithering and claimed he had “lost your vote”.

  • TerryF98

    This is such utter crap that it’s really not worth responding to. However I will echo the rest and say that it’s great to have a statesman in charge and not a cowboy.

    Bush would have blundered into a solo effort without world opinion on his side, he would have ignored the dangers and we would be committed to another Iraq style disaster.

    I know war and death is good for Guardiano’s business so it’s no surprise to see him beating yet another war drum.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I literally feel exultant.”

    Fools often do. It’s a necessary part of the condition. It’s only the sober people who consider the larger context.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    TerryF98,

    Go back to those previous posts. Many, many, many said the US should not get involved in the situation at all. I did not see one poster say we should if the UN approves. So China and Russia are the benchmarks by which we set our foreign policy? Let me be clear, even without it we still must have done what we did, the fact we got the UN to back us up makes my initial rationale for us to get involved that much more clear.

    Obama followed the Papa Bush playbook to the letter, even better, since it did not seem to be US led at all when undoubtedly it was overwhelmingly a US effort. But the underlying strategic rationale behind it was the same.

    We simply could not let Benghazi get razed and a humanitarian disaster befall Egypt and have a Gadhafi outside all western restraint.

    • Watusie

      OK, I went back to your previous posts. I found endless repetition of the meme “I am deeply disappointed in Obama and his dithering.”

    • TerryF98

      Many were actually saying that the USA should not take UNILATERAL action in Libya or elsewhere for that matter. It’s the UN and Arab league involvement and support that is the important thing here.

      If you remember back to the Iraq war buildup it was the hope that the UN would come together and unify behind a position that was important to a lot of people. Our unilateral haste to go to war was a sordid thing. The strength that the UN and Arab league approval gives to the Libya no fly zone and DMZ is worth far more than our rushing in gung ho and going all “shock and awe” guns a blazing.

      The fact that this escapes Guardiono is THE reason Neocons should never be trusted again with national security.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “OK, I went back to your previous posts. I found endless repetition of the meme “I am deeply disappointed in Obama and his dithering.””

    Don’t forget “I won’t be voting for him in 2012 because he’s such a {whatever}.”

  • canuckistani

    I would like to hear directly from a neocon on several fronts:
    1) Libya: zero strategic interest to the US, and the US was able to do two very important things – behind the scenes where adults play, BTW.
    a) Get the historical intransigent Arab League to unanimously agree on opposing Ghaddafi. They are now on record siding with the imperialists and zionists.
    b) Show the european union as markedly fractured on the subject that will haunt Germany and Italy for several years. The boost to France’s street cred in the wake of this will embolden them, finally, and Britain can now wipe off the stink of cowing to Ghadaffi at Junior’s request in recent years.
    2) Bahrain: home to the US Navy in the gulf and a panicked host state to manipulate. A Shia takeover poses no possible benefit to the US and Obama handling has been spot on. Watch for more Saudi hysteria to ramp up proceedings.

  • Bebe99

    See those who voted for Hope and Change wanted a president who would do things differently than the last guy. And a UN declaration may mean that US personnel and equipment are the primary enforcers of the no-fly zone–but now it is a shared responsibility, see? Do conservatives hate working with the UN on anything and everything?

    • canuckistani

      Obama has changed the game in just a few years. Seeing the back of Bolton and other adolescents has been a breath of fresh air for US diplomacy. Libya is solely a European concern, and it should be a European solution.

      Clinton has been worn out dancing between Obama and AIPAC whisperers and she has done an admirable job.
      Interestingly there has been little written about the $2M deal for the CIA guy in Pakistan….another win for Clinton and Obama, and for the astonishingly quiet Al Qaeda and Iranian irritants during this memorable winter.

    • zephae

      “Do conservatives hate working with the UN on anything and everything?”

      It’s not just conservatives who see the UN as an ineffectual hopelessly bureaucratic body. Deferring to the UN is guaranteed to put a long delay on anything you might want to do. I think this Libyan situation is a great example of that in that Obama clearly did not want to do anything at all until pretty much everybody in the international community was on-board and willing to claim some stake in the effort. The ground work that had to be done to get to the point of a non-vetoed resolution is astonishing and the position and actions of the administration simply followed that very slow process, one that almost turned out to be too late.

      While Obama is to be commended for his skill in being able to navigate the numerous hurdles one has to clear to get this kind of international approval, the slowness of the effort certainly begs the question of whether this is an effective way to do policy. I certainly prefer this method to an Iraq-style unilateral method, but I’m not at all confident that these international bodies can be counted on to produce positive outcomes in future conflicts. What about a place like Iran or Saudi Arabia, where the stakes are much higher but the barriers to building an international consensus are much stronger?

      And BTW, TIAF I get that you feel vindicated, but the self-congratulatory attitude is getting more than a little irritating, and this is coming from somebody who was in your camp to start with.

  • gmat

    That was the point. To get the Arab League and the UN to take the initiative. NOT for the US to do it.

  • Gus

    Do conservatives hate working with the UN on anything and everything? Yes. SATSQ.

  • Martholomew

    Obama did exactly what those of us who voted for him would have wanted him to do. Unlike some other presidents, he actually thinks before he acts, and he includes the world community in his decisions. In fact, I would say the way he dealt with this is exactly the kind of “change” the world needed.

    Haven’t you neocons figured out that you can’t just go invade every country that makes headlines when their dictator goes crazy? It’s not only arrogant, but it’s economically unsustainable.

    Bravo Obama. Letting the Arab League and the U.N. lead the way is exactly what was best for the world, and for the Libyans. The American Empire is over wether we like it or not, so best to stop pretending that it isn’t.

  • bibs

    Note that Guardiano says Obama should be bold and audacious, but never actually says what that means. Does he think we should forcibly remove Gaddafi? That means sending in troops – where are they coming from? A no-fly zone is worthless unless we are going to actually attack and destroy the Libyan security forces. The no-fly zone only worked in Iraq because we destroyed Saddam’s army in the Gulf War.

    Of course, Guardiano believes that going in half-ass, with no plan was so successful in Iraq we should do that in Libya. Maybe we can get Tommy Franks to mismanage this invasion as well.

  • Rabiner

    John:

    “As the world’s greatest and most influential democracy, the United States has an inherent interest in supporting and promoting democratic change, preferably by peaceful means, but by force if necessary. This because democracies tend overwhelmingly to be more peaceful, less threatening and more economically dynamic.”

    Should we be invading Bahrain which is obviously not democratic but has an uprising as well?

    • John Guardiano

      Rabiner,

      Maybe you missed the part in the piece where I talked about effecting democratic change and transformation prudently and incrementally. Here’s what I wrote:

      “Thus it should be the announced policy of the United States government to support worldwide democratization — prudently and incrementally, of course, but deliberately and decisively nonetheless. But that requires an overarching strategic vision which is conspicuously absent in this White House.”

      Yes, we should be pushing and prodding Bahrain to democratize. But Libya and Gaddafi are an order of magnitude worse from the vantage point of American national security. Plus the situation there is far more ripe than it is in Bahrain.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Thus it should be the announced policy of the United States government to support worldwide democratization…”

    The problem, John, is that you never substantiate or justify your premises.

    *Why* should this be the policy of the United States government? Saying that democracies are more peaceful and whatnot is all well and good, but that’s not a direct and compelling imperative for us to take military action in every place where democracies don’t exist.

    I ask again: Aren’t conservatives supposed to value the Constitution? Where on earth did you guys ever get the idea that it was the constitutional responsibility of the American government to run around imposing democracies on foreign countries?

    What is the risk to American security from Qaddafi? Be specific. I bet you can’t identify any real threat that he poses to us. If he poses such a risk now, why weren’t we attacking him years ago?

    Why are we “friends” with countries that are not even remotely democratic, not only not invading them but propping them up? Why do we ignore countries where far worse atrocitices are taking place, for years on end?

    Neoconservative foreign policy is completely incoherent, and Libya is making this blindingly obvious.

    • TerryF98

      Don’t expect any reasoned answer. Guardiano is very much a one trick pony. And he does that one trick time after time after time.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Watusie // Mar 18, 2011 at 11:49 am

    OK, I went back to your previous posts. I found endless repetition of the meme “I am deeply disappointed in Obama and his dithering.”

    Oh for heaven’s sake, does anyone here imagine he was going to secure a non veto from both Russia and China in the security council? I have not read one post by anyone anywhere saying, hey, if China and Russia say it is ok, lets get involved.

    As to my comment about Manhattan, have you people been living in a cave? Do you really imagine that Al Qaeda would not use a nuke if they could get their hands on one? This was an obvious example of WORST case scenarios. Do not consider Gadhafi with untold billions of oil revenues not consider such an action would be foolishness.

    I responded to this: The unintended consequences of doing nothing will not lead to the deaths of American service men.

    Which was sheer and utter bullshit. TRS wrote of his fear that drone pilots might slip out of their chairs and hurt himself. Honest to God, his complaint was their might be “accidents” that might lead to servicemen dying so therefore we should let Benghazi be razed. And he calls me the fool.

    And let me repeat, I said I would not vote for Obama if he let Benghazi be razed to the ground. I and no one here had any idea he had backroom assurances from China and Russia that they would not veto the UN resolution authorizing the exact same strategy I laid out and which was so relentlessly mocked by people like Otto or TRS.

    Traveler understood my meaning precisely and here is what he wrote on that thread:
    “Nice job of fighting a tenacious battle with pretty reasonable opposing points of view. I have to admit you still have me in your corner, as I see your position being both tenable and feasible.”
    And this was him in response to another poster
    “Are you brain dead? TIAF has been talking all along about the effective use of our standoff capabilities to provide a NFZ and then cooked up the idea of an “armistice” line, supported by similar capabilities that we already have in place.”

    Lo and behold, this is precisely what has been put into place. Now I would have preferred the policy be instituted after the Arab league requested the no fly zone, but this is because I had no idea he could secure the UN resolution. I am delighted to have been proven wrong. What I saw as dithering was fantastic backroom diplomacy getting something I had no idea was possible.
    And show me the post of anyone at Frumforum who said, yes, lets act if China and Russia don’t veto action.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    And here is TRS on the 13th: Then we have renewed motivation to work towards his ouster in other ways. I mean, the guy’s been in power for decades, so what’s the sudden urgency in getting rid of him? Was he any less Qaddafi in 2010 than he is in 2011?

    Yeah, Gadhafi’s forces on the road to Benghazi with the stated desire to destroy it was simply not important…nah…we had time. Obviously Obama, the British, and the French felt my urgency and a mere few days after I wrote my posts secured the active participation of the UN via a resolution authorizing the exact same strategy I laid out.

    What was the rush? Being called a fool by someone like you is a compliment.

    TRS strategy: Do nothing, maybe write a strongly worded letter.
    My strategy: Adopted by the UN since it was so blindingly obvious only a brain dead fool would not have realized it.

    Again, the point is not that I was right in the strategy, many, many others advocated the exact same thing, the point is how tremendously wrong people like Otto and TRS were and how completely unwilling they are to ever admit it.

    TRS: I will admit I was dead wrong about Obama getting the Russians and Chinese to sign off on the exact same strategy I supported. I am delighted to have been proven wrong and admit it without reservation. This is likely the difference between you and I. I do not imagine for a moment you are capable of admitting that you were wrong, though if you prove me wrong about this that would be wonderful too.

  • LauraNo

    The people of Libya, and in the rest of the middle east want, and deserve, to EARN their freedom which will empower them and give them something to be proud of. They want help in Libya via a no-fly zone but they sure as hell do not want the U.S. taking over, so that in the end we can bang our chests and take pride in how we made democracy happen there. Obama seems to have much more respect for the people there than our neo-cons do. I voted for adult and sensible foreign policy and that’s what I think I’ve got. And why is it that so many seem to think the president of the United States ought to be going about announcing his intentions and behind the scenes moves? Are y’all nuts?

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    What is the risk to American security from Qaddafi? Be specific. I bet you can’t identify any real threat that he poses to us.

    And he imagines this a remotely an intelligent question. Like dealing with a child. The razing of Benghazi and the east of Libya would have created a humanitarian refugee nightmare in Egypt, one that would have lasted decades and created unbelievable instability in that country. And who was going to pay for the care, feeding, and housing of the refugees? Couple that with a Gadhafi clan outside of all western restraint, more than willing to fund radical elements throughout Africa (as they have for decades), this also from a man who blew up a US airliner.

    Egypt is a US ally, they secure the Suez Canal which is a vital US (and world interest) and have for over 30 years kept a peace treaty with Israel (another US ally)

    I wrote there was no way in hell that Obama was going to allow Benghazi to be razed and if he waited until the attack of Benghazi to respond the strategic consequences would have been far more problematic.

    It turns out my concern for that was misplaced. He pulled a rabbit out of his hat in the UN and put us in an even better diplomatic position (although a slightly worse strategic position) I got precisely what I wanted and I got precisely what I wanted because I was absolutely correct.
    Yet I am the fool.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “The razing of Benghazi and the east of Libya would have created a humanitarian refugee nightmare in Egypt, one that would have lasted decades and created unbelievable instability in that country.”

    This is pure supposition on your part, of course. Yet even if true, it still doesn’t come close to answering my question. Refugees in Egypt are no more a compelling risk to American security than they are in any of a host of other nations where they have been a problem for years.

    I guess it’s a lot easier for you to call my question unintelligent than to demonstrate intelligence by answering it.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Meanwhile, on Twitter, Guardiano is already complaining that we shouldn’t “limit our options” by saying we won’t send ground troops into Libya.

    How… surprising.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    talkradiosucks.com // Mar 11, 2011 at 3:55 pm

    Me: “Bill Clinton has come out in support of a no fly zone, John Kerrey, Gov. Richardson, etc. the list of Democrats who support it is pretty large and growing. I suppose you can label all of them war mongers as well.”

    TRS: Consider it done. (again, he calls Clinton, Kerry, Richardson war mongers and I am the fool)

    Me “If Obama is not going to do anything he should sure as hell just say he is not going to do anything.”

    TRS: Maybe he is doing things that you don’t know about.

    And I am happy to have been proven wrong. His getting the resolution through the UN was masterful, but it was done with the explicit intent to accomplish the exact same “war monger” goals as I advocated. If I had known he had backroom deals arranged with the Chinese and Russians to not veto the resolution I sure as hell would not have criticized him. Now all of a sudden I am supposed to have known this?

    TRS: You can have fun with your “nothing or invasion” false dichotomy, but I’d prefer to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he’s considering a variety of options.”
    For one, I never advocated an invasion, I only advocated the exact same policy that the US has ended up doing. Some invasion.

    “That’s what responsible leaders do. What you call “dithering”, I call “due diligence before involving this country in yet another war”.

    And the option he chose? What I advocated. And guess what, he did involve America in yet another war.

    Sucks when people use your own words against you, doesn’t it?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Sucks when people use your own words against you, doesn’t it?”

    I wouldn’t know, since you just pasted a bunch of quotes proving that I was correct about your breathless hysteria over Obama not rushing into action. :) You are the one who said he was a pantywaist because he wouldn’t take unilateral action, and I told you to be patient. My hope was that he wouldn’t do anything on the military end at all, but I certainly never *predicted* that he would not.

    If I wrote anything there that proves me wrong about something, you have yet to identify it.

  • Madeline

    zephae: the slowness of the effort certainly begs the question of whether this is an effective way to do policy

    It might raise the question, but it doesn’t beg the question.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    “The razing of Benghazi and the east of Libya would have created a humanitarian refugee nightmare in Egypt, one that would have lasted decades and created unbelievable instability in that country.”

    TRS: This is pure supposition on your part, of course. Yet even if true, it still doesn’t come close to answering my question. Refugees in Egypt are no more a compelling risk to American security than they are in any of a host of other nations where they have been a problem for years.

    Oh, now this is just insane, Tunisia has more than 200,000 refugees and nothing akin to a full scale assault on a major city like Benghazi with a population of 700,000 occurred. If to imagine that there would have been no refugee crisis in such a situation is simply unreal.

    Look at the Palestinian refugee situation and see the instability it has created for generations, a sudden influx of a half of a million people (Eastern Libya has 30% of the Libyan population)
    would have represented an immense crisis with long term generation consequences.

    Look, TRS is an isolationist. No rationale is compelling for action. I am sure he opposed action in Bosnia and Kosovo (again done for the exact same rationale) removing Hussein from Kuwait
    (again, Hussein invading Kuwait represented no direct threat to us).

    There is no reasoning with isolationists, they live in a bubble of supposed American self interest without the faintest conception of world politics. We live in an ad hoc world with nations created by colonial powers regardless of local conditions to meet their needs.
    Between the extremes of desiring Empire building and isolationism is where most people reside. We have to take each case as they come and balance it as best we can with our own self interest and native political ideology.

    Libya, obviously, has met that case. For someone like TRS even a UN resolution is not enough

  • talkradiosucks.com

    I asked the following: “What is the risk to American security from Qaddafi? Be specific. I bet you can’t identify any real threat that he poses to us.”

    And you responded, insultingly, as follows: “And he imagines this a remotely an intelligent question. Like dealing with a child.” And then proceeded to describe refugees in eastern Libya, which while unfortunate, does not even approach an American security threat.

    Now, after claiming my question was not “remotely intelligent”, you’ve admitted that you cannot answer the question at all, because your rationale for supporting this action is not based on American national security. You just want us to do it because of your gut emotional response, and you don’t really care about anything else, much less what the long-term implications are.

    Which, of course, was evident from the very beginning.

    Glad we got that settled.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    “You are the one who said he was a pantywaist because he wouldn’t take unilateral action, and I told you to be patient.”

    Lies. I have never said unilateral action. France, England, and the Arab league supported a no fly zone, obviously it would have been in co-ordination with these nations. I only ever got impatient after the Arab league called for a no fly zone because I thought this was the cover we needed.
    Tell me where you predicted that the UN would authorize the use of much more than a no fly zone in Libya (and yes, it authorizes more than a no fly zone)

    Obama pulled a rabbit out of his hat that I would never have imagined was possible in securing the UN resolution. I explicitly stated that Obama would not allow Benghazi to be razed, to do so would have been political suicide. It seemed to me the time to implement the strategy I outlined was when conditions were more favorable on the ground.

    Let me remind you again, militarily I called for a DMZ with a no fly zone. The Obama administration labeled it a “no drive” zone (ie no more advance on Benghazi), but it meant the same thing.

    I have never called for unilateral US action. In fact, I hoped for no US action whatsoever. It was only with the fall of Ras Lanuf and the Arab league call for a no fly zone that I felt the need to do action.

    And your concept of be patient and mine are radically different. Are you really saying the 3 days was enough time for you to have seen the correctness of my strategy? Of course not.

    So you lie. You say I advocate unilateral action, invasion, yada yada when what I advocated is precisely what happened.

    I quoted you directly, how about you quote me directly where I say I advocated the US acting unilaterally? Oh, right. You can’t, so better to just f-ing LIE and say I did.

    This is another difference between you and I. I quote you and pull apart your words, you make up my words and then criticize them.

  • Watusie

    Tempest “And let me repeat, I said I would not vote for Obama if he let Benghazi be razed to the ground.”

    Actually, no. Here are three links to your ravings: Benghazi is mentioned nowhere:

    http://www.frumforum.com/questions-for-libya-non-interventionists/comment-page-1#comment-258606
    “I simply can’t vote for a feckless dithering President and the loss of Libya will haunt him.”

    http://www.frumforum.com/questions-for-libya-non-interventionists/comment-page-1#comment-258623
    “I voted for Obama but I am starting to hate him. He encouraged the rebellion by stating Gadhafi had to go. If he is going to be utterly indifferent he should have said from day one that he is not going to interfere no matter what so the Libyans who revolt are on their own.
    This is what the Chinese say, from an authoritarian mercantalist country I expect nothing.”

    http://www.frumforum.com/questions-for-libya-non-interventionists/comment-page-1#comment-258631
    “By the way, if Libya becomes free it will be just a matter of time for Algeria to do so, and then Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Let Gadhafi prevail and you can be damn sure he will do everything he can to bring about the fall of Tunisia and Egypt. It would be in his self interest to make sure there are dictators there who will not bother him. The Arab spring will be remembered as the lost opportunity because feckless, cowardly Democrats could not seize history and support a POPULAR rebellion against a madman…I truly am ashamed of Obama. He has lost my support and my vote.”

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Watusie: Thanks. I’m starting to think this guy is simply off his chump. He appears to be entirely incapable of rational argument, and can’t even remember his own comments.

  • wfathauer

    I’m not against a NFZ (I don’t want to see this animal butcher the rebels).

    But John would be wise to not be so naive as to pretend this is some type of Arab spring…let us not forget that many Libyan protesters, like their Egyptian counterparts are carrying likenesses of Gaddafi (or Mubarak) defaced with the Star of David–signifying that they are “demons.”

    Also, eastern Libya, where much of the rebellion is centered has sent countless militants into Iraq to murder American servicemen fighting there. So let’s not pretend that the rebels who replace Gaddafi aren’t likely to be as anti-Western and anti-Semetic as he was. Thus, their adoption of democratic elections post-overthrow will be rendered largely irrelevant.

    The reason I’m not against ensuring his removal is that, unlike Mubarak, Gaddafi provides the US with little to no tangible benefit as an ally. He hates the West at least as much as he hates rival militants, he’s a belligerant anti-Semite, and he’s sponsored more terrorism than almost any Muslim leader in the Arabic-speaking world. And on a more base level, he almost certainly ordered the Pam-Am bombing…a barbaric crime that alone renders him worthy of death.

    So his removal would not present America with a tangibly worse situation that it has now…so long as we resist the temptation to pretend that this is truly some sort of transformational alteration of Islamic attitudes towards Western democracy. And the world would be rid of an odious piece of human garbage.

    Wasn’t true in Iraq, wasn’t true in Afghanistan, and won’t be true anywhere else where orthodoxy reigns supreme.

  • cdorsen

    In fairness, as much as I usually disagree with Obama, I can’t really fault him here. I probably would have done even less. Since Europe seems so ready to intervene (what we are constantly chastised for in the international community), let them do it! Besides, Libya is in their backyard, not ours. If they fail, maybe we want to play a stronger support role to make sure that doesn’t happen, but otherwise give moral but very little logistical support. Let the people of Libya know that we are with them in spirit, but let Europe be with them in blood.

    On another tangent, the problem we have led ourselves to is hypocrisy. We supported tyrants in the land as long as they were the devil we knew for so long that it wreaks of contradiction to now support the people overthrowing them. Would we support the people overthrowing the totalitarian House of Saud? If not, why Libya and Egypt? If we are going to change course and act with our values and not our interest, we better be prepared to do it across the board. If not, any and all efforts will be seen as it is, disingenuous.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    “I simply can’t vote for a feckless dithering President and the loss of Libya will haunt him.”

    Yes, can you read? The LOSS OF LIBYA will haunt him. He didn’t lose it, in fact he set in place the exact same policy that I advocated. I admit I was wrong in the criticism of him because I had no idea he could pull a UN resolution with the tacit backing of China and Russia. Please cite the parts where that was what you were waiting for.

    “he should have said from day one that he is not going to interfere no matter what” and lo and behold he did interfere in the exact same manner I hoped he would..

    “Let Gadhafi prevail and you can be damn sure he will do everything he can to bring about the fall of Tunisia and Egypt.”

    Oh, again, he did let Gadhafi prevail, so truly you are exhibiting a reading comprehension problem. Everything I said was predicated on Obama doing nothing. We had Gates making statements that a no fly zone was so difficult, yada yada, we had the Director of National Intelligence saying that the fall of Benghazi was inevitable and that Gadhafi would win. And you criticize me for despairing that Obama would not act…

    You can have your petty insults, nothing I said I retract. If Obama did not do precisely what he did do then I would have been very disappointed in him.

    Tell me though where you predicted the UN resolution passing and the exact same strategy laid out that I envisioned. You are great at finding comments of my criticism of Obama, show me what your result was.

    And TRS, please. You called Obama a war monger too, right. Or is he not because so much has happened in the past 3 days….

    “He appears to be entirely incapable of rational argument, and can’t even remember his own comments.” I love it, I have already admitted I had no idea that Obama could pull this resolution out of the UN and stated explicitly I was wrong about Obama, yet suddenly I can not remember my previous comments. NO, it is you who can not engage in rational argument. You lie about what I say, you call Clinton, Kerry, the British, the French, and now Obama war mongers and I am not rational?

    Anyway, I am actually elated at the turn of events. No petty insults from a neo isolationist could possibly phase me. Oh, wait a total stranger insulted me even though he was 100 percent wrong and has to resort to lies, oh no, what shall I do?

    Again, my criticism of Obama was predicated on his allowing Benghazi to go down in flames. He did not. He waited until the last minute but last minute is sufficient since we now have UN explicit authorization to do exactly what I advocated.

    Oh yes, none of this is rationale. Sure.

    I will also admit to being bombastic and caustic, but you know what, I have been totally vindicated. The policy I have called for is precisely the policy that was advocated. I know I had nothing to do with it, but it restores my faith in Obama and his statesmanship. And it also means I need not watch Benghazi be razed to the ground.

    People like TRS simply can not imagine it is not about him. This has nothing to do with me, I am exultant because untold thousands of people shall now not get slaughtered. But I guess this makes me irrational.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Here is the information I read which led me to believe the US would not institute a no fly zone.

    The U.S. Director of National Intelligence predicted Col. Moammar Gaddafi would prevail against rebel forces if left alone. As Craig Whitlock and Edward Cody reported:

    James R. Clapper, the Director of National Intelligence, told a hearing of the Senate Armed Services Committee that Gaddafi has consolidated his position in recent days and that his forces are far better equipped than the rebels, giving him a clear advantage.

    “We believe that Gaddafi is in this for the long haul,” Clapper said. “Right now, he seems to have staying power unless some other dynamic changes at this time.”

    Coupled with Gates pronouncements and no action after the request of a no fly zone by the Arab league I simply did not understand what was preventing the US from acting, of course I had no way of knowing, as did NONE of you that Obama had private assurances from the Chinese and Russians both that they would not veto a UN bill authorizing the direct use of force in addition to the no fly zone in Libya.

    As I said, how he pulled that off I have no idea. If anyone at Frumforum can show me the link where they were predicting it I will tip my hat off to them.

    I was wrong about Obama, I am certainly not wrong about the naysayers who said we must not get involved in Libya under any condition. The UN has vindicated my view, TRS can worry about the drone pilots falling out of their chairs all he wants.
    Remember TRS, I stated we can use drones to police the area and you complained about the risk to US servicemen via accidents….and I am supposedly the one not rational. You never did lay out what those accidents were supposed to be…

    I am sorry, I know I should not engage in internet pissing wars, but this is like stealing candy from a baby, maybe TRS is related in someway to Sarah Palin…

    Hey TRS, are you Todd Palin? Go back to your snowmachine…

  • talkradiosucks.com

    Fruitcake.

    I’ve had it with this place — I thought it was a cut above other sites, but it isn’t. Anyone who wants me, you know where to look.

  • The American Spectator : AmSpecBlog : In Libya, Obama Needlessly Hamstrings America

    [...] doesn't seem to see this, unfortunately. He lacks strategic vision. He lacks sufficient appreciation for the historical significance of the democratic revolution now [...]

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    TRS: yep, when you can not hope to win in argument whine like a stuck pig and go off to…Randpaul.com?? Yes, I am such a fruitcake that the EXACT same proposal I laid out was adopted, the one you said could not work because of…well, you never did say why except say it can not work.

    And watusie, do you support the no fly zone with the cease fire or not? All I have ever did, and which you have reinforced, is state that Obama must act and he did act. The question can be asked is if ceding the ground from Brega on in order to secure the UN resolution was the correct policy. I think politically yes, but strategically it is problematic. How do we get Gadhafi to pull his forces back, well away from Benghazi?

    Now that we have committed ourselves to this action, how do we see that it is successful?

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    TRS: “I’ve had it with this place — I thought it was a cut above other sites, but it isn’t.”

    I understand the frustration in not being able to get a meaningful response to your very direct questions to TRS, but I’ve read practically all of your posts on most of the threads about Libya and they’ve been spot on. That may be little consolation for your frustrations, but I have appreciated your contributions and hope you continue to post on FF.

    And I say that as someone who disagrees with your posts from time to time.

  • SpartacusIsNotDead

    Tempest: “I am certainly not wrong about the naysayers who said we must not get involved in Libya under any condition. The UN has vindicated my view, TRS can worry about the drone pilots falling out of their chairs all he wants.”

    First of all, it is extremely premature to boast that there won’t be bombings, accidents or dead American soldiers. No one knows how this is going to turn out.

    More importantly, those of us who opposed intervention were not predicting these things were going to happen. Instead, we said that it’s very possible these things could happen and that it’s not worth taking the risk because the U.S. has no vital interest at stake.

    The adoption of a U.N. Security Council resolution does not create a U.S. interest in Libya so nothing that has happened in the past 24 hours vindicates your position or proves that those of us who oppose intervention are wrong.

  • Obama AWOL on the Arab Spring @FrumForum | The Minority Report

    [...] This post was originally published at the American Spectator blog, AmSpec. [...]

  • In Libya, Obama Needlessly Hamstrings America @AmSpec | The Minority Report

    [...] doesn’t seem to see this, unfortunately. He lacks strategic vision. He lacks sufficient appreciation for the historical significance of the democratic revolution now [...]

  • Traveler

    Hey There TIAF,

    Back from out of town, and a weekend of no internet now that spring is finally coming. I was pleased to see the evolution of events, and I wanted to thank you for the kind comments of the 18th:

    “Traveler understood my meaning precisely and here is what he wrote on that thread:
    “Nice job of fighting a tenacious battle with pretty reasonable opposing points of view. I have to admit you still have me in your corner, as I see your position being both tenable and feasible.”
    And this was him in response to another poster
    “Are you brain dead? TIAF has been talking all along about the effective use of our standoff capabilities to provide a NFZ and then cooked up the idea of an “armistice” line, supported by similar capabilities that we already have in place.”

    I got to admit, lools like we were on the money, while so many here (spartacus and zephae excluded) were adamantly opposed. While there were good reasons, they were just not good enough for us (or BO). Frankly, I was totally surprised the UN vote happened, but that further supported my high opinion of how BO and Hillary are running things. I still think the overwhelming tone against the NFZ coming from military mouthpieces was disingenuous, given the proof in the pudding. It was widely cited by the opponents here. Whether it was intentional or not, I don’t know.

    From the perspectives of several days later, looks like it will save Benghazi, but we got a ways to go. As Rabiner noted, there are a whole lot of possibilities for a stalemate, but the likelihood of terror there by Qadhafy is much less. However, I am not nearly as salubrious about the cities to the west. Wholesale carnage is still going on, with rebels being rounded up and disappeared. It is still a disaster, and I wish the NFZ had got into place when you and I were rooting for it. But better late than never.

    It pains me to see TRS still post that there would have been no important humanitarian consequences if Benghazi fell. Sheesh…But at least the NFZ happened, notwithstanding the arguments against it bandied about. As to TRS and Watusie, you folks are some of my favorite posters, even though I disagreed with you on this one. TRS, to go off in a huff, and publicly at that, is pretty childish. You can always use the ignore button, like I do with Willy. Which you can do with me.

  • jamesj

    “Why is the man who campaigned on ‘hope and change’ so indifferent about it overseas?”

    Perhaps because he took office in the middle of the worst foreign policy blunder in modern American history, a blunder which has gobbled up almost unbelievable amounts of American blood, treasure, and prestige. Perhaps because his reaction to the situation in the Middle East and Africa is that of an old-school Conservative, one who doesn’t rush into foreign military entanglements without clear reason of self-defense and without any clear ramifications for American interests. I’m actually disappointed at the recent UN action to enforce their resolution. I don’t think Western Civilization needs to act like a police officer for the rest of the world. We’d affect the world more positively if we simply tended to our own problems and thereby set a good example.