President Obama took the podium tonight to reiterate the rationale supporting our participation in the limited attack on the Qaddafi regime. I was struck by the tone (literally) of Obama’s remarks. As I heard it, Obama’s tone was was angry and defensive. The speech was as a result extraordinarily uninspirational and even difficult to understand. John Hinderaker struggles manfully below.
If you’ve been paying attention, the song remains the same. In his last remarks before hostilities commenced, Obama announced that he was sending Secretary Clinton to Geneva for consultations with our allies. Tonight Obama announced: “Tomorrow, Secretary Clinton will go to London, where she will meet with the Libyan opposition and consult with more than 30 nations.”
Obama identified no American interest at issue in our Libyan venture. Obama did say that it was not in the American national interest to permit Qaddafi’s intended massacre of Libyans in Benghazi (“It was not in our national interest to let that happen”), but one could just as well say that it was not in the American national interest to prevent it either. His assertion is a vacuous verbal formulation. He’s moving his lips, but he’s not saying anything. There may be an American national interest involved, even if not a vital one, as Secretary Gates asserts, but it plays no role in Obama’s stated rationale.
Our limited military action is taken to support “the Libyan people.” It is humanitarian in nature. Those wondering whom we are helping more concretely will have to continue to look elsewhere for guidance.
Was it really necessary to include a critique of our efforts in Iraq? Obama’s critique of the war to overthrow Saddam Hussein was petty as well. He has the vanity of an adolescent.
Qaddafi deserves something worse than a dog’s death, and I hope he gets what he deserves, but this is what Obama had on offer tonight: “If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter.” I’m pretty sure it won’t make it into Bartlett’s.
Whereas other American presidents have undertaken the burden of leadership to advance the American national interest in a multilateral coalition, Obama subordinates America’s role in a multilateral coalition to serve the general will of the international community. He is at once pathetic and dangerous.
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