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The kindest thing that can be said about last night is that our president showed he can be budget-conscious.
Before President Obama’s Monday evening Libya speech, Senate Minority Leader Mitch McConnell posed four questions he hoped the president would answer. Obama gave partial and unconvincing answers to two and left the other two unaddressed.
Instead, the president spent nearly half an hour trying — and failing — to make a cogent argument for U.S. military action for humanitarian purposes and presenting the Obama Doctrine justifying risking American blood and treasure “when our safety is not directly threatened.”
McConnell’s questions were ones which many, not least many members of Congress in both political parties, want answers to:
• Will America’s commitment end in days, not weeks, as the president promised?
• What will be the duration of the non-combat operation, and what will be the cost?
• What national security interest of the United States justified the risk of American life?
• What is the role of our country in Libya’s ongoing civil war?
Regarding U.S. involvement in military operations, the president offered only a rehashing of his prior statements and re-emphasizing his desire to turn America from leader to equal-at-best participant in most ongoing combat:
I said that America’s role would be limited and that we would not put ground troops into Libya. That we would focus our unique capabilities on the front end of the operation. And that we would transfer responsibility to our allies and partners. Tonight we are fulfilling that pledge.
NATO has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night, NATO decided to take on the additional responsibility of protecting civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday.
UPDATE: In a sign of NATO’s view of Obama’s vaunted leadership, a NATO diplomat announced on Tuesday morning that the alliance’s takeover of Libyan operations would be delayed until Thursday, in part so allies might modify their levels of participation based on a Tuesday conference about Libya.
Obama said that the U.S. will “play a supporting role” in ongoing operations and that the “risk and cost of this operation to our military and taxpayers will be reduced significantly.” He neglected to explain, however, how this transfer furthers the military mission, focusing instead on “international partners,” “a broad coalition,” and an “international mandate,” as if ensuring that a few diplomats getting along for an extra week is more important than secondary considerations such as winning.
In other words, America’s commitment remains undefined in both time and cost despite Obama’s hiding behind NATO’s skirt.
The answer to a question of the length and cost of non-combat operations was even more evasive: “While our military mission is narrowly focused on saving lives, we continue to pursue the broader goal of a Libya which belongs not to a dictator but to its people.” Obama explained what he expects the U.S. to do following combat operations:
We will deny the regime arms, cut off its supplies of cash, assist the opposition, and work with other nations to hasten the day when Gaddafi leaves power. It may not happen overnight as a badly weakened Gaddafi tries desperately to cling on to power…history is not on Gaddafi’s side.
A man of faith in a godless age is hitting Americans where it hurts.
Mr. and Mrs. American Spectator Reader, let P.J. O’Rourke talk sense to your kids.
In Britain, defending your property can get you life.
The debacle of this president’s administration is both a cause and a symptom of the decline of American values. Unless Congress impeaches him, that decline will go on unchecked. An eminent jurist surveys the damage and assesses the chances for the recovery of our culture.
It won’t take long for conservatives to scratch this presidential wannabe off their 2008 scorecard.
The American Christmas, like the songs that celebrate it, makes room for everybody under the rainbow. Is that why so many people seem to be hostile to it?
Was the President done in by the economy, or by the politics of the economy?