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March 23, 2011

The Ironies of War in Libya

Kevin E. Dayhoff

In the latest chapter of “What a long strange trip it’s been,” the saga of the Nobel Peace Prize winner, President Barack Obama’s nuanced approach to foreign policy – especially in the Middle East – the United States launched an air war against Libya.


Oh, that’s right, in spite of the Orwellian protestations and careful wordsmithing of Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton as she squirmed in Paris last Saturday while meeting with 21 world leaders to plan how to implement last Thursday’s United Nations’ authorization to use military force, it happened last Saturday with the French and British also participated – barely. Well, they are at least cheering us on.


Of course, the military action in Libya is not anything like the United States carrying the bulk of the water in the “coalition” efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, of which officials in the Obama Administration have been so consistently and scathingly critical.


Well, maybe not so much.


But, of course, this is different because this military action is being led by a Nobel Peace Prize winner… And President Obama will be held harmless by the liberal media no matter how blatant his hypocrisy.


Make no mistake about it. So far, the United States is leading the military actions against the forces of Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi, providing the bulk of hardware and bearing the enormous expense. Too, the lives-in-danger are American.


The ironies go on boundlessly as President Obama once again finds himself in a situation where governing is a lot harder than campaigning. I call President Obama’s foreign policy the dazed and confused doctrine; but Richard Cohen calls it the Milton Berle doctrine, “the Obama administration has applied incoherence to confusion…”


In Time magazine, Romesh Ratnesar was even more blunt: “Does Barack Obama know what he's doing? The question isn't purely rhetorical because Obama's response to the cascade of global crises over the past several weeks has often seemed mystifying…”


Last Saturday, Secretary of State Clinton found herself straining to emphasis “that the United States would strongly support the international military action to halt Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks on rebels, but she made clear that Washington would not be in the lead.


Of course, this was said with the ever-present hangover of the partisan attacks on President George W. Bush over his administration’s prosecution of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. History and America’s enemies have an odd manner of behaving apolitically when it comes to our national interests.


If you will recall, the foreign policy of presidential candidate Senator Obama was to apologize, then chat with America’s enemies in order to smooth over our differences.


Then, as Joe Klein aptly calls to our attention in his “Swampland” blog on Time’s web site, “As The New York Times reports today, the pressure for action came Hillary Clinton, UN Ambassador Susan Rice and the NSC human rights expert Samantha Power – with the macho boys over at the Pentagon opposed. This may be a first in American history.”


Let’s be clear! If one can justify our military efforts in Afghanistan and Iraq, then, ipso facto, one can support the president in Libya.


However, the war in Libya could not come at a more perilous time for our nation, President Obama, or the hypocritical supporters of the Obama Administration and the liberal media.


Above and beyond the partisan attacks on the Bush Administration’s military actions in Iraq and Afghanistan by the pro-candidate Obama crowd is the strange silence of the same anti-war crowd and liberal media ever since President Obama was sworn into office.


Then there is the not so small matter of President Obama waging war on Libya without congressional “Authorization for Use of Military Force (AUMF.)” If you hit rewind on the history tapes, on December 20, 2007, then-Senator Obama sanctimoniously declared:


“The President does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation.”


Candidly, when he said it at the time, I wasn’t clear as to how that was to be understood as even a ‘dog whistle’ attack on President Bush. President Bush sought and got the required authority from Congress to go into both Afghanistan and Iraq.


As the ironies pile upon ironies, when was the last time you heard of Ohio Representative Dennis Kucinich (D) and Maryland Rep. Roscoe Bartlett (R) on exactly the same page.


Congressman Kucinich said it best: “But whether the U.S. takes military action is not for the UN alone to decide. There is a constitutional imperative in the United States with respect to deciding to commit our U.S. armed forces to war.”


Matthew Hay Brown wrote in The Baltimore Sun’s “Maryland Politics” blog: “Rep. Roscoe G. Bartlett, who supported the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, is calling the decision of President Barack Obama to deploy force against Libya without first seeking congressional authorization “an affront to the Constitution.”


Then there is the not so small matter called to our attention by Chris Cillizza, writing in his news and analysis column for The Washington Post:


“President Obama’s decision to commit U.S. military resources to a strike against Libyan dictator Moammar Gadhafi is fraught with political peril as the American public has shown increasingly little patience with the country’s involvement in foreign conflicts.”


Last Saturday, Secretary Clinton, when “Questioned on whether the mission was aimed at ensuring the safety of civilians or at pushing Gadhafi from power, she said: ‘It is to protect civilians and provide access for humanitarian assistance.’ ”


I’m not making this up. This fairy tale comes from the administration of then-presidential candidate Senator Obama, who opposed the war in Iraq.


Libyan strongman Gadhafi is a complete amateur at killing his own people when compared to Iraqi President Saddam Hussein.


What a long strange trip it’s been…


. . . . .I’m just saying. . . . .


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