I Actually Support Our Libyan Venture…

…but some aspects of it you almost have to laugh at. Like today’s silliest headline, in the New York Times (naturally): “U.S.-Led Assault Nears Goal in Libya.” Really? So soon? Mission accomplished! Well, not exactly:

An American-led military campaign to destroy Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s air defenses and establish a no-fly zone over Libya has nearly accomplished its initial objectives, and the United States is moving swiftly to hand command to allies in Europe, American officials said Monday.

But that is not the administration’s stated goal of protecting Libya’s civilian population–especially, apparently, those who live in Benghazi. Rather, the Times refers to a tactical objective. The paper continues with a more relevant admission:

But the firepower of more than 130 Tomahawk cruise missiles and attacks by allied warplanes have not yet succeeded in accomplishing the more ambitious demands by the United States — repeated by President Obama in a letter to Congress on Monday — that Colonel Qaddafi withdraw his forces from embattled cities and cease all attacks against civilians.

It remains a mystery how cruise missiles can protect civilians in Benghazi or anywhere else in Libya–unless, in a stroke of luck, one of them lands on Qaddafi.
We have noted the fact that President Obama, unlike President Bush, did not see fit to seek Congressional authorization for our role in the Libyan adventure. Some Democrats have suggested that this warrants impeachment, but the Times sort-of-explains:

The president said in a letter to Congress that he had the power to authorize the strikes, which would be limited in duration and scope, and that preventing a humanitarian disaster in Libya was in the national interest.

I think Obama does have the power to authorize the attack on Libya, which is to say that the War Powers Act is unconstitutional. I also think that “preventing a humanitarian disaster in Libya” is, to some degree, in our national interest. But this is a brand new position for Obama, who stated unequivocally when he was a presidential candidate that the President has no such authority. One might expect the Times to consider this volte-face worthy of comment, but no: the paper passes over Obama’s contradiction in silence.
President Obama and his minions have trumpeted their “smart diplomacy,” which is ostensibly designed to win friends and allies for the U.S. For the most part, in my view, Obama’s diplomacy has been dumb. That may be debatable, but what is not debatable is that the reviled “unilateralist” George W. Bush lined up twice as many allies to support his invasion of Iraq as Obama has participating in the Libyan venture.
So–like many conservatives, I suspect–I am simultaneously supporting our military effort and rooting for its success, while also enjoying the contradictions and disarray it gives rise to among Democrats in the administration, in Congress, and in the press.


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