A Further Perspective

Obama’s Tomahawk Chop

The futile gestures of a reckless and leaderless foreign policy.

By 3.23.11

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Q: What sort of world do we live in where America's enemies live in more fear of the French than of us?

A: The world that Barack Obama has long dreamed of.

It's been said by quite a few pundits but it bears repeating: Barack Obama is a clueless internationalist academic whose statements on Libya are incoherent in the literal sense of the word (as George Will noted) and who is sowing a dangerous confusion.

At every opportunity, President Obama is repeating two underpinnings of his Libyan strategy: that the U.S. will give up control of the military operation to a coalition commander at the earliest possible time and that we are not targeting Gaddafi or even aiming for regime change since the UN resolution didn't call for regime change.

First, regarding control: We're spending the most money (130 Tomahawk missiles at over $600K each so far, plus the costs of moving ships and subs and flying jets) and we have the most to lose if this goes badly -- and I don't just mean monetarily. Let me be very clear on this point: Had we not gotten involved, we would have had much less than the Europeans, or even Libya's neighbors such as Egypt and Tunisia, to lose. Now that Obama has committed the U.S. name, the prestige of the U.S. military, in a part of the world whose tendency toward bad behavior is reined in primarily by fear of the power and competency of the U.S. military -- and the will of the U.S. to use it -- a loss would have very bad long-term consequences for us. And a stalemate, which Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, wouldn't rule out as a possibility on Sunday, is a loss just as the stalemate in Vietnam was. With so much to lose, it's unconscionable that Obama would hand control of the mission over to a non-U.S. commander.

Furthermore, from a technical level, President Obama and Hillary Clinton have each pointed out repeatedly that the U.S. has "unique capabilities" to bring to bear in Libya. This is certainly true. We have technology, especially relating to intelligence gathering and signal jamming, that nobody else has. How could it possibly make sense to give command over a technology to a foreign general or admiral who can't have adequate knowledge of those systems' capabilities and limitations since he's never had to learn about them in depth, never having anticipated being put in charge of something his country doesn't have?

Obama is going out of his way to make sure the U.S. doesn't appear to be a bully and doesn't appear to be, or be acting as, superior to other nations. To put it plainly, that's a horrible strategic and tactical error, though not a surprising one from a man who has never had a real job, never lived in the real world in an experiential sense (at least not in America), and repeatedly disdained America's leading position in the world. This is simply the latest step in Obama's endless march to turn us into part of the EU under the thumb of a world government.

Regarding targeting Gaddafi and regime change, It CAN'T be that the goal is not regime change, and it shouldn't be that we say explicitly that we're not targeting Gaddafi... even if we're not. Without regime change, the "coalition," which is to say the U.S., will be stuck in an endless quagmire of no-fly zones and soon-to-be-needed peacekeeping forces. In other words, if the UN resolution is aimed at protecting civilians, and if Gaddafi remains in power, then the mission will never be completed. Thus, arguing that the mission is to save Libyan civilians is inconsistent with not aiming directly for regime change, if not aiming directly for Gaddafi's head with a .50-caliber Browning sniper rifle.

If Obama wants to send a message about targeting, he should say "We are not targeting Gaddafi today. However, our coalition partners are allowed to set their own target priorities." Even if Obama doesn't have the courage to kill the mass-murderer, the only chance -- albeit a slim one -- of Gaddafi's voluntarily giving up power is if he believes that he and his family suffer serious risk of a high-speed lead injection. Telling him that he's not at such risk poses an analogous tactical risk as telling the Taliban that we're pulling out of Afghanistan in July. The latter lets the enemy just wait us out; the former lets him operate with an impunity that a man who should be rotting in hell should most certainly not be feeling.

I would also suggest that Obama's main points about control and targeting are politically stupid on his part. He's not going to get any serious challenge for the 2012 presidential nomination, though some far-left loon like Dennis Kucinich might nominally give it a shot. This means that he should be doing everything in his power to recapture the independent vote who so stunningly abandoned him and his party in November.

By putting himself in a position where any and every Republican hopeful will castigate him for the control and regime change issues, President Obama is letting his future political opposition pick at an already festering scab and his biggest existing weakness: the perception that he is not a leader, that he cannot make a decision, and that Michelle Obama expressed the family's true deep-seated feeling of never having been proud of the United States of America other than for its brief fawning over The One.

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About the Author
Ross Kaminsky is a self-employed trader and investor and is a senior fellow of the Heartland Institute. He is the host of The Ross Kaminsky Show on Denver's NewsRadio 850 KOA on Saturday mornings from 6 AM to 9 AM. You can reach Ross by e-mail at rossputin(at)rossputin(dot)com.