No “Vital National Interest”

ABC News is not known as President Obama’s loudest critic.  More like his Amen corner. So it’s headline screams even louder:

AdriftDefense Secretary: Libya Did Not Pose Threat to U.S., Was Not 'Vital National Interest' to Intervene

The rest of Jake Tapper’s story gets more disturbing.

  • The President and the Defense Secretary seem to disagree on national interest
  • The Secretary of State cannot articulate a consistent US policy
  • Hillary Clinton seems to believe that the UN is a legal alternative to the US Congress

More than week into a war that lacks even the thinnest thread of Constitutionality, Barack Obama seems clueless.  To the rest of the world, our whole country must look adrift.

Indeed, we are.

A Disgraceful Presidency

Historians will mark March 19 as the day the Obama presidency reached its point of no return.

Obama Toasts His War in Rio

The image of a cowardly and selfish child-president flying to Brazil to launch a war will haunt his legacy, like Nixon’s vulgarities on tape in 1974. Obama’s war on Libya has doomed an already weak administration.

Today, Germany pulled out of NATO because of the bungled, late, and idiotic intervention.  It appears, now, that the alliance that won the Cold War and help sustain two decades of peace could collapse under a lack of American leadership.

Yesterday, the Obamas cut short their South American vacation, returning early to Washington. Obama is now scrambling to rescue, not only his presidency, but whatever prestige America might have left. 

From his obsequious bows to foreign leaders to his denunciations of the USA in foreign and enemy lands, Mr. Obama seemed, for a time, bent on knee-capping American influence around the world.  Having succeeded in damaging our world image, he now wonders why things are so chaotic and dangerous.

A combination of weak decisions – or no decisions – set up what seems to be a no-win situation for Obama, NATO, and the US, not to mention Qaddafi’s internal foes.

First, Obama vacillated for weeks about what to do. Instead of using the time to consult Congress and request authorization to use force—as George W. Bush had done repeatedly—Obama filled out basketball brackets.  And that lost time was crucial.

Second, Qaddafi used Obama’s delays to counterattack the rebels. Two weeks ago, rebels controlled all but Tripoli. By the time Obama acted, rebels were under siege in their final bastion of Benghazi. 

Third, Obama has ruled out both the use of ground troops in Libya and targeting Qaddafi. This combination has frustrated our friends and reassured our foes.  It makes a long stalemate likely, increases the probability of mass starvation and continued death and misery for the innocents. 

Yesterday, when asked how long a no-fly zone might last in Libya, a British Member of Parliament told BBC news, “the no-fly zone over Iraq lasted the better part of a decade.” 

History shows that standoffs like the one facing us in Libya hurt the people in the country the most. There are often food shortages, as happened in Iraq and in Haiti, as dictators seize food supplies for themselves and their supporters.  There are often massacres that escape the watchful eye of the UN and NATO, as happened throughout the Iraq no-fly zone period.  And there is corruption, as (French) companies and politicians exploit embargos and sanctions to demand black market prices of both dictators and the oppressed.

Meanwhile, important questions about Obama’s odd foreign policy remain unanswered.

During the 2008 campaign, everyone from Hillary Clinton to Rush Limbaugh and Rudy Giuliani warned voters to avoid inexperienced and weak candidates like Obama.  But we elected him anyway. 

The chickens are coming home to roost.

Libya: To What End?

When the US invaded Iraq in 2003, it do so with the clear intent of bringing its enemy—Saddam’s regime—to an unconditional surrender. That was the objective.  Despite what happened after that objective was achieved, we went in with a clear and measurable purpose. The motivating reason for our foray into Iraq was also clear.  We believed at the time that Saddam Hussein’s possession of -- and desire for more -- weapons of mass destruction posed an imminent threat to US interests and citizens. We also believed that attempts to reach a peaceful resolution were exhausted and that failure to act immediately would make future actions more lethal.

I have no qualms with any of those actions, although I did end up criticizing the Bush administration's handling of the longer occupation.

With troops in harm’s way, I will go no further, now, than to say that I believe the action in Libya sets two bad precedents:

1.  The United Nations is operating inside a country, against a UN-recognized sovereign, to change a government’s domestic policy.

2.  The President took military action against another country without consulting Congress and with no pretense of justification under the War Powers Act.  Even Obama’s supporter Andrew Sullivan admits as much.

On St. Louis Tea Party Coalition, I posed five questions for the President regarding the Libyan offensive.  As the father of an F-18 fighter technician, I hope the President will answer those questions, not to me, but to the nation and to the world.