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LAMBRO: Bringing a Tomahawk to a gunfight
Obama denies we’re at war but his actions say we are
Question of the Day
In the first two years of his tutorial presidency, Barack Obama replaced Teddy Roosevelt’s well-advised admonition to “speak softly and carry a big stick” with “be friendly and carry an olive branch.”
He was going to sit down and enter into a gentlemen’s “dialogue” with America’s enemies, including every tin-pot despot from Iran to North Korea. He would try to reason with the world’s dictators who are, by definition, well, unreasonable.
Now, in the third year of his troubled term in office, as he enters a tough, two-year presidential election cycle with his polls sinking into the mid-40s, and critics on both sides of the aisle saying he is failing to lead, President Obama is suddenly firing Tomahawk missiles and sending stealth bombers into Libya to topple its dictator Moammar Gadhafi from power.
In an analysis on the front page of Sunday’s Washington Post’s Outlook section, Mr. Obama was unceremoniously portrayed as the “master of ceremonies” who “appears less inclined or less able to assert his country - or himself - as the dominant player in global affairs.”
By that time, the U.S. air strikes over North Africa had already begun. But it wasn’t long before Mr. Obama’s attempt at regime change in Libya - let’s face it, that’s what he’s attempting here - was turning out to be a lot more difficult than our reluctant commander in chief expected.
Obviously, the missile aimed at the compound where Col. Gadhafi lived wasn’t intended to kill Libyan bureaucrats. He wasn’t there.
From the beginning, his handling of the air war against the Libyan dictator’s forces was strange, raising more questions than the White House had answers.
While he was sending U.S. ship and air forces into harm’s way, he was off on a pleasant tour of Latin America with his family, a series of photo-ops and one banquet after another. The U.S. commander of chief had left his country while the war raged.
At a news conference Monday in Chile, he argued that this was not an attempt at regime change, but a humanitarian effort to save civilian and rebel lives from Col. Gadhafi’s threat to annihilate anyone who threatened his rule.
While Col. Gadhafi troops were still shooting rebels and civilians in a reign of terror in Benghazi, Ajdabiya and elsewhere, Mr. Obama was announcing that U.S. military action would soon be handed off to the U.S. allies in “a matter of days, not weeks.”
This was certainly not a reassuring message to the disparate, disorganized groups of rebels who heard that the U.S. mission they had counted on to save them would be going home and turning the fight over to the French. That fight won’t be anytime soon, either. The headline over a lengthy Associated Press dispatch Tuesday from Ajdabiya: “Gaddhafi’s Forces, Libyan Rebels Face Standoff.”
The White House said the handoff - if it ever comes - would go to NATO forces. But opposition from some member countries, including Turkey and Germany, made significant NATO action questionable at best.
Meantime, criticism of Mr. Obama’s military adventure was growing here at home. Congress was in recess for 10 days, but a number of Democrats voiced angry complaints in a hastily-arranged House Democratic Caucus conference call as the bombing began. Many said Mr. Obama had “exceeded his constitutional authority” by undertaking the attack before obtaining Congress‘ approval.
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About the Author
By Matt Kibbe
The short-term deal will assure long-term overspending
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