"The One" is the un-JFK....
Said Judy Miller on Fox News Watch, who has interviewed Gaddafi many times: "Of course you can't be totally certifiable and rule a country like Libya for 42 years, but he is as close to psychotic as a leader can be." (JM also said she was lucky, as a brunette, to get interviews, as No-Gentleman-He Gaddafi prefers blondes....) Gaddafi, for his part, now blames social media for stirring up revolution.
Here is what a resolute government does facing a crisis that endangers its citizens in foreign countries: last Saturday British military planes secretly rescued their nationals trapped in Libya. In doing so the Brits clearly violated international law by entering Libyan airspace and landing without consent of the government.
PLACING THE SAFETY OF THEIR NATIONALS FIRST AND INTERNATIONAL LAW NICETIES SECOND SHOWS THAT THE BRITS KNOW WHAT PROPERLY COMES FIRST. THE OBAMA FOLKS, INCLUDING "THE ONE" HIMSELF, SHARE A WORSHIP OF INTERNATIONAL LAW THAT IS FOOLISH FOR AMERICA AND UNHEALTHY FOR AMERICANS TRAPPED ABROAD.
Tony Blair has called Gaddafi and personally asked him to step down.
The best Team Obama has done to date was to charter a Maltese ferry unable to sail in moderate Mediterranean seas and thus stranded in a Libyan harbor for three days awaiting calm waters. On CNN Paul Wolfowitz tells Fareed Zakharia how embarrassing it is that al-Jazeera shows video comparing a silent Obama versus surging crowds in revolt (video: 1:08). Belatedly, the US is considering imposing with NATO a "no-fly" zone, and also has begun reaching out to Libyan opposition leaders.
At the New Republic Leon Wieseltier, a moderate liberal, pinpoints the One's failing:
Why is Obama so disinclined to use the power at his disposal? His diffidence about humanitarian emergencies is one of the most mystifying features of his presidency, and one of its salient characteristics. These crises—in Tehran two years ago, in Cairo last month, in Tripoli now—produce in him a lame sort of lawyerliness. He lists the relevant rights and principles and then turns to procedural questions, like those consultations. The official alibi for Obama’s patience with Qaddafi’s atrocity is his concern for the Americans who are still stranded within Qaddafi’s reach; I was amused to learn from a friend that the spin out of the White House includes the suggestion that Obama’s restraint is actually the wisdom of the hostage negotiator. But Obama’s statement about Libya suggests another explanation for his slow pace. This was its climax: “So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspirations of people who are seeking a better life.”
They are fighting authoritarianism, but he is fighting imperialism. Who in their right mind believes that this change does represent the work of the United States or any foreign power? To be sure, there are conspiracy theorists in the region who are not in their right mind, and will hold such an anti-American view; but this anti-Americanism is not an empirical matter. They will hate us whatever we do. I do not see a Middle East rising up in anger at the prospect of American intervention. I see an American president with a paralyzing fear that it will. In those Middle Eastern streets and squares that have endured the pangs of democratization, the complaint has been not that the United States has intervened, but that the United States has not intervened. The awful irony is that Obama is more haunted by the history of American foreign policy in the Middle East than are many people in the Middle East, who look to him for support in their genuinely epochal struggle against the social death in which their tyrannies have imprisoned them. He worries about the repetition of an old paradigm. They are in the midst of a new paradigm. He does not want to be Bush. They want him to be Obama; or what Obama was supposed to be.
No JFK he. "The One" is, in short, exactly what the late Jeane Kirkpatrick famously called the Democrats in her 1984 stem-winder at the GOP Convention: a "San Francisco Democrat"--meaning "They always blame America first." People rise up against brutal dictators and "The One" renounces American imperialism.
Fouad Ajami sees a new "Arab Street" emerging, one quite different from the howling, often murderous radical mobs of yesteryear, pregnant with possibilities for a better Arab future:
Then, too, the legends of Arab nationalism that had sustained two generations had expired. Younger men and women had wearied of the old obsession with Palestine. The revolution was waiting to happen, and one deed of despair in Tunisia, a street vendor who out of frustration set himself on fire, pushed the old order over the brink.
And so, in those big, public spaces in Tunis, Cairo and Manama, Bahrain, in the Libyan cities of Benghazi and Tobruk, millions of Arabs came together to bid farewell to an age of quiescence. They were done with the politics of fear and silence....
There is no overstating the importance of the fact that these Arab revolutions are the works of the Arabs themselves. No foreign gunboats were coming to the rescue, the cause of their emancipation would stand or fall on its own. Intuitively, these protesters understood that the rulers had been sly, that they had convinced the Western democracies that it was either the tyrants’ writ or the prospect of mayhem and chaos.
So now, emancipated from the prison, they will make their own world and commit their own errors. The closest historical analogy is the revolutions of 1848, the Springtime of the People in Europe. That revolution erupted in France, then hit the Italian states and German principalities, and eventually reached the remote outposts of the Austrian empire. Some 50 local and national uprisings, all in the name of liberty.
Massimo d’Azeglio, a Piedmontese aristocrat who was energized by the spirit of those times, wrote what for me are the most arresting words about liberty’s promise and its perils: “The gift of liberty is like that of a horse, handsome, strong and high-spirited. In some it arouses a wish to ride; in many others, on the contrary, it increases the urge to walk.” For decades, Arabs walked and cowered in fear. Now they seem eager to take freedom’s ride. Wisely, they are paying no heed to those who wish to speak to them of liberty’s risks.
Christopher Hitchens at Slate sees Obama's Mideast policy as a combination of cynical & naive:
This is not merely a matter of the synchronizing of announcements. The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive.
This has been especially evident in the case of Libya. For weeks, the administration dithered over Egypt and calibrated its actions to the lowest and slowest common denominators, on the grounds that it was difficult to deal with a rancid old friend and ally who had outlived his usefulness. But then it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned "violence" in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama. And his silence was hardly worth breaking. Echoing Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who had managed a few words of her own, he stressed only that the need was for a unanimous international opinion, as if in the absence of complete unity nothing could be done, or even attempted. This would hand an automatic veto to any of Qaddafi's remaining allies. It also underscored the impression that the opinion of the United States was no more worth hearing than that of, say, Switzerland. Secretary Clinton was then dispatched to no other destination than Geneva, where she will meet with the U.N. Human Rights Council—an absurd body that is already hopelessly tainted with Qaddafi's membership.
Obama, Hitchens writes, has made himself a hostage:
Evidently a little sensitive to the related charges of being a) taken yet again completely by surprise, b) apparently without a policy of its own, and c) morally neuter, the Obama administration contrived to come up with an argument that maximized every form of feebleness. Were we to have taken a more robust or discernible position, it was argued, our diplomatic staff in Libya might have been endangered. In other words, we decided to behave as if they were already hostages! The governments of much less powerful nations, many with large expatriate populations as well as embassies in Libya, had already condemned Qaddafi's criminal behavior, and the European Union had considered sanctions, but the United States (which didn't even charter a boat for the removal of staff until Tuesday) felt obliged to act as if it were the colonel's unwilling prisoner. I can't immediately think of any precedent for this pathetic "doctrine," but I can easily see what a useful precedent it sets for any future rogue regime attempting to buy time. Leave us alone—don't even raise your voice against us—or we cannot guarantee the security of your embassy....
Apparently, as Claudia Rosett notes, UN Ambassador Susan Rice has not lost Obama's confidence, though she was AWOL at last week's Security Council meeting on Libya. Rice was at a UN Global Sustainability meeting in South Africa, focusing on long-term enviro-friendly economic development strategies. On the other hand Rice is so awful that her absence may have been a blessing in disguise. CR offers four steps the UN could take to begin rehabilitating its contemptible record, which CR knows that will not in fact take but airs for the record.
Scary indeed is a brilliant interview given by Bernard Lewis, the doyen of Orientalists at 94 years old. BL explains why Western-style democracy is unlikely to triumph in the Arab world. Arab regimes have no such tradition. Modern Arab societies imposed harsh dictatorial rule over polities that historically were governed by consultation between tribal groups and sectors of society. Freedom in the Western sense is poorly understood. Arabs look to justice versus injustice. Re Israel Lewis says that paradoxically Israeli success can inspire Arabs to better their lot. Lewis also demolishes the absurd belief among Western liberals that Egypt's Muslim Brotherhood is not extremist. In the same vein, enjoy British ace historian Niall Ferguson's demolition of "Morning Joe" anchor (5:09) Mika Brzezinski on Obama's Egyptian flip-flips and liberal illusions about the MB and "happy clappy democracy." WikiLeaks cables show Iran backing the MB.
Add to all this that Team Obama continues to block oil & gas drilling in the US, as global oil supplies are imperiled. Gaddafi moved nearly $5B in funds from the US to London before Obama froze Libya's US assets.
Worst of all, President Obama has failed to use one of a President's essential foreign policy tools: to instill fear in America's enemies. President Bush got Gaddafi to surrender his WMD in 2003 on the eve of the Iraq War because he instilled fear in Gaddafi that Libya was next on the target list. Neither Gaddafi nor anyone else on the planet (save a few high-value drone targets) fears Obama.
Bottom Line. "The One" is behind the foreign policy curve again, and will thus forfeit his country's best chance to influence events while they unfold, rather than be prisoner of the ultimate outcome as we sit on the sidelines.
Letter from the Capitol, LFTC, 9/11, National Security, Terrorism, Foreign Policy, UN, Conservative Politics