U.S. involvement in the U.N. resolution endorsing a no-fly zone over Libya and the subsequent U.S.-led attacks against Moammar Gadhafi’s regime have sparked criticism of President Barack Obama's policies from all across the political spectrum, from Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., who wanted the action weeks ago, to left-wing activist Ralph Nader, who says Obama should be impeached.
Conservatives agree with McCain’s position that Obama should have acted more quickly, while liberals are upset that Obama took action at all. Even moderate House Speaker John Boehner refrained from offering the president full support.
“The president is the commander in chief,” Boehner said. “But the administration has a responsibility to define for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is, better explain what America’s role is in achieving that mission and make clear how it will be accomplished.”
Sen. Richard Lugar, perhaps the Republican senator most allied with Obama on foreign policy, also expressed doubts about the operation. “We had better get this straight from the beginning . . . or there’s going to be a situation where war lingers on, country after country, situation after situation, all of them on a humane basis, saving people,” Lugar warned on CBS’ “Face the Nation” Sunday.
The Obama administration hasn’t made clear whether the military attacks are designed ultimately to force Gadhafi from office or just to prevent the dictator from slaughtering his own people.
As for McCain, he urged action weeks ago. “I hope it’s not too late,” he told CNN’s “State of the Union” Sunday. “Obviously, if we had taken this step a couple of weeks ago, a no-fly zone would probably have been enough,” he said. “Now a no-fly zone is not enough. There needs to be other efforts made.”
On the left, a group of liberal House Democrats, led by Reps. Jerrold Nadler of New York, Dennis Kucinich of Ohio, and Maxine Waters of California said Obama broke the constitutional requirement that he gain congressional approval for acts of war.
Obama’s going to have a tough time persuading independents of the wisdom of his policy, given their weariness of the long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, Republican pollster David Winston told Politico.
Meanwhile, potential Republican presidential candidates for 2012 met Obama’s authorization of military strikes with either derision or silence.
“It is impossible to make sense of the standard for intervention in Libya except opportunism and news media publicity,” former House Speaker Newt Gingrich said in a statement to Politico Sunday. “Iran and North Korea are vastly bigger threats. [Zimbabwe dictator Robert] Mugabe has killed more people, the Sudanese dictatorship has killed more people, there are a lot of bad dictators doing bad things.”
Former Pennsylvania Sen. Rick Santorum also offered harsh criticism. “Under any score, I don’t know how you could play this worse than this president has,” he told Politico Sunday. Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani made similar comments in a speech in Manchester, N.H., The Associated Press reports.
In India on Saturday, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin offered more mild criticism, upbraiding Obama only for a lack of decisiveness. She said there would have been “less dithering” if she were in the White House, Politico reports.
Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour declined to criticize the administration in comments to reporters, simply offering support for our troops.
Representatives of former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney, former Minnesota Gov. Tim Pawlenty, Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, former Arkansas Gov. Mike Huckabee and Minnesota Rep. Michele Bachmann didn’t respond to Politico’s requests for comment.
As for the extreme left, Nader blasted Obama for the slaughtering of innocents in an interview with the anti-war Democracy Now! organization.
"Why don't we say what's on the minds of many legal experts; that the Obama administration is committing war crimes and if Bush should have been impeached, Obama should be impeached," he said.
Liberal filmmaker Michael Moore, whose documentaries roundly criticized President George W. Bush, also took shots at the president on Twitter. “It's only cause we're defending the Libyan people from a tyrant! That's why we bombed the Saudis last wk! Hahaha. Pentagon=comedy,” Moore wrote.
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