On Monday night, Barack Obama finally made his case as to why American military force is being used in Libya. As usual with the Libyan situation (and most of his foreign policy endeavors), the action and explanation have come too late, and Americans are still scratching their heads wondering if Obama knows what he’s doing.
First, let’s recap what Obama said on Monday night. Because he really doesn’t have a clue, it’s often entertaining to dissect his speech. He becomes his own counterpoint, and his Libyan remarks were no exception. Here’s the set-up… The Libyan people, after having been oppressed for decades, see what’s going on in Egypt and other places and start to voice their opposition to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi. Qaddafi starts to crack down and attack his own people.
Here’s what Obama said about the situation:
Last month, Qaddafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights. Faced with this opposition, Qaddafi began attacking his people.
s President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance. Then we took a series of swift steps in a matter of days to answer Qaddafi’s aggression. We froze more than $33 billion of Qaddafi’s regime’s assets. Joining with other nations at the United Nations Security Council, we broadened our sanctions, imposed an arms embargo, and enabled Qaddafi and those around him to be held accountable for their crimes. I made it clear that Qaddafi had lost the confidence of his people and the legitimacy to lead, and I said that he needed to step down from power.
At this point in time, do you really think Qaddafi was shaking in his turban? Let’s see… people are being killed daily in Libya, and Obama takes a “series of swift steps to answer Qaddafi’s aggression.” Were these steps taken before or after golf? Anyway, I’m not sure how freezing assets, joining other nations to broaden sanctions, imposing an embargo, and the best one, enabling accountability are in any way at all an “answer to Qaddafi’s aggression.” Isn’t an “answer to aggression” something that stops aggression?
Obama’s very next sentence in his speech was, “In the face of the world’s condemnation, Qaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people.” Uh, so I guess the answer was no.
Obama then said he took military action to avoid a “massacre” that was coming. He said, “It was not in our national interest to let that happen.” So he ordered military action. Yet, back when he was a candidate, Obama said, “The president does not have the 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.”
Was there an “actual or imminent threat” to America? What do you think?
And although Obama is now justifying his actions in Libya, he also gave this “terrorizer of innocent people around the world” a pass by saying the military actions in Libya would not be used to remove Qaddafi from power. As reported in The Hill, Sen. John McCain commented that Qaddafi must have been “somewhat comforted” by Obama’s speech.
“Gadhafi must have been somewhat comforted by that. It was, at least to some degree, counter to the president’s statement that Gadhafi must go,” McCain said on CNN shortly after Obama’s address to the nation. “And if we end up in a situation where Gadhafi is able to cling to power, then we could easily see a reenactment of what happened after the first Gulf War — stalemate, no fly zone, lasted for 10 years, and didn’t bring Saddam Hussein out of power.”
Obama wants this “murderous tyrant” to stop, but he doesn’t want him to stop strongly enough to take him out of power. He says the president does not have the constitutional power to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation, yet that’s what he did. Is it constitutional? Does Obama have a plan? If so, what is it?