Obama’s Missed Opportunity In Libya

Congressional disapproval of President Obama’s decision to initiate combat operations in (over?) Libya with U.N. approval but without bothering to seek congressional approval is welling up from both sides of the aisle.  This is another rookie mistake, and one that could cost Obama dearly. 

First, setting aside whether initiating a shooting war without congressional authorization is appropriate, I would be surprised if Obama could not have gotten congressional authorization.  So why did he move forward alone instead of introducing emergency legislation? 

Having a vote puts some congressional skin in the game if when things don’t go according to plan, planes are shot down, Qaddafi manages to remain in power, or he is replaced by something equally bad.  As things stand, however, this is all Obama, and he does not have too many folks hitting the airwaves to back him even now, not even from his own party.

Second, the optics of this whole thing are terrible.  Our airmen are taking the lead on a new military action, while Obama is doing everything he can to emphasize that our troops are doing the bidding of the “international community” (which is really a coalition smaller than the one Bush assembled for Iraq), and that we aren’t really, and don’t want to be, in charge. 

If they had gone to Congress, the Administration would have had to determine in advance what it wished to achieve and lay out an overall strategy for achieving it.  Instead, in part because they didn’t take the time to assemble a coherent argument as to why intervention was necessary, the Obama Administration’s message has been (almost) laughably muddled

UPDATE:  The Administration says Qaddafi must go, then asserts that regime change is not the point of the intervention, then it announces the “goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will.”   This is weapons grade incoherence. 

What is the goal?  And what is the plan for achieving it?  The longer we have to ask these questions, the worse it will be for the Administration and the country.

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Published in: on March 22, 2011 at 10:25 am  Leave a Comment  

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