Tags: Middle East | obama | speech | gadhafi | conservatives | de | borchgrave

Conservatives: Obama's Libya Plan Bankrupting America With No Exit Strategy

By    |   Monday, 28 March 2011 09:15 PM

Conservatives slammed President Barack Obama’s television address on Monday, which was intended to clarify the administration’s objectives in Libya, calling his ideas and proposals “alarming.”

Obama announced Monday evening that NATO will be taking over control of the no-fly zone in Libya beginning on Wednesday, and explained why the United States stepped in to stop Libyan strongman Moammar Gadhafi’s attacks against his own people.

"We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi -- a city nearly the size of Charlotte -- could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world," Obama told the nation.

"It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen."

But many of the nation's leading conservatives -- including several major contenders for the GOP presidential nomination in 2012 -- found the speech ill-conceived and the rationale it laid out for intervention poorly defined, according to Politico:

Sarah Palin: "He did not articulate really what our purpose was except some inconsistent humanitarian effort there. ... He did not make the case for this intervention."

Sen. Lindsey Graham:
“I think he did a good job talking about the signal we would send if Gadhafi murdered his way back into power, that we’re a values-based people, and standing by these young people will serve us well in the future. But the line that really sort of broke my heart was that regime change by force would be a mistake."

Rudy Giuliani: "The president's speech tonight has made things even murkier than they were before. The whole purpose of this was to clarify our mission. Our mission is just internally contradictory."

Donald Trump: "Well I think he's trying hard, he's under a lot of stress, it's not an easy situation. I really do want to know these people we're fighting for, who they are. ... "I hear they're aligned with Iran."

Tim Pawlenty: "I think he should have done the no-fly zone earlier. ... They could have pushed him out without much fanfare, I think, without much difficulty. They were indecisive and it lacked leadership in that moment."

Herman Cain: "President Obama must explain the American interests in conducting military action in Libya that is worth risking our national treasures — our brave men and women in uniform — as well as our national treasury totaling at least 1 billion. The American people await bold leadership based on purpose, strategy communication and resolve from their president."

Obama said that had America allowed Gadhafi to massacre his citizens, the resultant flood of refugees into neighboring Tunisia and Egypt would have threatened the fragile “Arab awakening” in those nations as well.

Arnaud de Borchgrave, director of the Transnational Threats Project at the Center for Strategic and International Studies and editor-at-large at United Press International, tells Newsmax that Obama’s announcement that he will not pursue Gadhafi's ouster by military means is likely to prolong the war.

“I’m more worried than ever about a long engagement,” de Borchgrave tells Newsmax. “We say that it’s not going to cost very much because everything we wanted happened very, very quickly. But this could wind up costing an awful lot of money, if it goes into weeks and months.”

De Borchgrave, who is also an editor-at-large for The Washington Times and a Newsmax correspondent, compared Obama’s doctrine of using military force to protect civilians, while swearing off the use of force to topple the dictator threatening the civilians, to the strategy that former President George H. W. Bush used in the first Gulf War.

Many experts predicted Iraqi despot Saddam Hussein would fall after his nation’s utter defeat in that military conflict. But Hussein remained in power and the United States remained embroiled in protecting civilians there for over a decade.

De Borchgrave tells Newsmax that Gadafi now appears to be running Saddam’s playbook, by blaming his military setbacks on Western colonialism to foment popular support.

Conservative commentator Steve Malzberg, host of The Steve Malzberg Show on WOR radio in New York, said Obama gave the speech “too late.”
Malzberg gave the president credit for clarifying his rationale for the Libya action. But he said the speech actually left him even more worried than before.

He said Obama seems to have attenuated the U.S. prerogative to take military action unilaterally without the approval of international bodies such as the United Nations. And he said Obama spoke as if the Libyan rebels are freedom fighters rather than Islamic extremists and al-Qaida sympathizers, as some media have recently reported.

“I think he misled us in a lot of ways… it’s frightening,” Malzberg tells Newsmax. “He started off by saying we’re going after al-Qaida all across the world, and as it turns out, we have confirmation certainly that al-Qaida’s on the side of the rebels in Libya.

“In fact the rebel leader has admitted there are al-Qaida fighters, and also fighters who fought against the coalition fighters in Iraq, fighting with his troops. I think this is all making for very scary bedfellows, if you will.”

Fox News commentator Charles Krauthammer said that even more important than Monday’s speech by Obama is how well the war to oust Gadhafi proceeds over the course of the next month.

“And that will depend on one thing,” he said on Fox News Monday. “Will Gadhafi be in power or not? If he is, then the mission will have been a failure, because it means that Libya will have been partitioned, a civil war will be ongoing, and because Gadhafi’s forces are stronger than the opposition, who are quite disorganized.

“It means we will have to be providing protection indefinitely, as we did in Iraq in the Gulf War after 1991.”

Fox News digital politics director Chris Stirewalt said prior to the speech that GOP leaders are complaining that Obama has engaged in what they call “humanitarian imperialism.” They say addressing humanitarian crises abroad through military means should only occur when vital U.S. interests are at stake.

The Obama administration has insisted the military operations in Libya are intended to protect Libyan civilians. At the same time, it has been loath to describe the operations as a humanitarian mission.

It also maintains that Gaddafi is not being targeted by the attacks. But on March 3, the president declared “It’s time for Gadhafi to go.”

“The absolute, utter communications confusion that has come out of this White House is political malpractice,” Stirewalt said on Fox News Monday. “I don’t know about how you’re supposed to fight wars. But I have a pretty good idea about how to effectively communicate with the American people and how presidents are supposed to do it. They have botched this communications effort so thoroughly.

“The standard is the standard for a reason: You go on television while the bombs start to fall, or within the first two days. You explain to the American people. Politically, you may choose to circumvent Congress, or you may choose to circumvent the American people, but you cannot circumvent both and expect to have an effort remain popular.”

Stirewalt observed that ordinarily the commencement of military action is followed by a boost in the presidential approval polls, as voters rally around the commander in chief.

“In this case, we’ve seen the president’s approval rating drop, and we’ve seen the support for this war to be the lowest of any military action undertaken by the United States in 20 years,” Stirewalt said. “They’ve botched it.”

Recent polls suggest Republicans support the war more than Democrats, but independents oppose the military intervention, the command of which the administration is now beginning to hand over to NATO.

Dr. Larry J. Sabato, the director of the University of Virginia’s center for politics, is among the ordinarily neutral observers who has been critical of the Libyan intervention.

“I’m not a fan of the Libya decision -- from concept to execution to potential unintended consequences,” Sabato told Newsmax on Monday. “But as always, we hope for the best, in the national interest.”

The mixed messages coming from the administration continued as recently as Sunday, when Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton didn’t quite appear to be on the same page regarding whether Libya is in the vital U.S. national interest.

Asked Sunday on Meet the Press if defending Libya from ravages of its own dictator was in the U.S. national interest, Gates said: “I don't think it's a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there, and it's a part of the region which is a vital interest for the United States.”

When host David Gregory remarked that response would strike many as a weak justification for getting American involved in a military action in a third Islamic country, Clinton jumped in to suggest that because America’s European allies had contributed to the war effort in Afghanistan, the United States had a responsibility to respond in Libya.

“You know,” said Clinton, “we asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago. They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact they were not attacked. The attack came on us as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us.

“When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the U.K., France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in their vital national interest. The UK and France were the ones who went to the Security Council and said, ‘We have to act because otherwise we're seeing a really violent upheaval with a man who has a history of unpredictable violent acts right on our doorstep.’ So, you know, let, let's be fair here.

“They didn't attack us, but what they were doing and Gadhafi's history and the potential for the disruption and instability was very much in our interests, as Bob said, and seen by our European friends and our Arab partners as very vital to their interests,” she said.

President Obama was clearly at odds with his defense secretary in the speech on Monday. He said the fight in Libya is in the U.S. “national interest.”


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Conservatives slammed President Barack Obama s television address on Monday, which was intended to clarify the administration s objectives in Libya, calling his ideas and proposals alarming. Obama announced Monday evening that NATO will be taking over control of the...
obama,speech,gadhafi,conservatives,de,borchgrave,krauthammer,fox,graham,clinton,gates
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2011-15-28
Monday, 28 March 2011 09:15 PM
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