If it wasn’t clear three days ago, when Barack Obama unilaterally ordered military action against Libya, or the day after—when he asked, “Can’t someone else lead?”—it is clear now: The war is Obama’s, and so far he’s bungling it big time.
Never mind the question of what the mission is (no one on our side seems all that sure) or why the president would want to pass off leadership of the coalition (other than to appease his liberal base, which is furious at him). The most pressing question right now is “What coalition?”
The Mail reports that the Germans are pulling out. A military spokesman from that nation is quoting as saying they plan to recall two frigates and AWACS surveillance plane crews from the Mediterranean out of fear they would be drawn into the conflict (!) if NATO takes over control from the U.S. The U.S. and Britain, meanwhile, are no longer on speaking terms following a statement by the Brits to the effect that Muammar Gaddafi is a legitimate target for assassination. As if that weren’t chaotic enough, French Prime Minister Francois Fillon announced this morning that France is
not at war with Libya, we are protecting the civilian population. Our objectives are very specific … to protect the civilian population, excluding explicitly any occupation forces.
You see, Mr. President, this is how real leaders do it. They make a decision in advance of acting. That way they spare their own high-level subordinates the embarrassment visited on your own Defense Secretary, Robert Gates, who was forced to admit yesterday:
This command-and-control business is complicated, and we haven’t done something like this kind of on-the-fly before. It’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out.
While Obama tries to learn on the job (wouldn’t it be nice for the president if there were a presidential handbook with one chapter headed “How to Go to War”?), the U.S. has so far spent more than $168 million on Tomahawk cruise missiles and long-range B-2 bombers. One might argue that this expenditure adds one more precarious block to the teetering Jenga stack that is the American economy, but bear in mind that the missiles and bombers are manufactured by two American companies, Raytheon and Northrop Grumman respectively. Who said Obama wouldn’t keep his promise of putting Americans back to work?
- Obama’s next move on Libya could make or break his presidency
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