The Spectacle Blog

Costly Indecisiveness on Libya

By on 3.17.11 | 2:01PM

In a remarkably ridiculous statement for a man who has done nothing except charter a boat in response to the crumbling revolution in Libya, President Obama yesterday said that his administration was "slowly tightening the noose" on dictator Moammar Gaddafi.

There has been no noose, loose or tight, placed on Gaddafi by the U.S. or anybody else. At least not yet.

I've written recently about how Obama's indecisiveness and fecklessness is not harmless. The obviousness of Obama's indecision has reached a new high today with the U.S asking the United Nations" to authorize not just a no-fly zone to aid Libyan rebels but also air strikes against Libyan tanks and heavy artillery," according to Reuters.

Let's get this straight. The rebels held several key cities and an oil port. Obama (and the rest of the world) did nothing. Now that the rebels have been routed from all but one city, and even that grip appears to be slipping rapidly, our president wants to get involved?

To be clear, I am not arguing that America should have risked blood and treasure earlier in involvement in Libya's civil war. It's not a simple question but I have yet to be convinced that America should get involved in something which will take longer, carry more risk, and cost more than most would think.

What I am arguing is that if America were going to get involved, it should have done so (1) when it had a decent chance of making a difference and (2) in a way which doesn't require getting "permission" from the UN, an organization which in 2003 elected Libya to chair its Human Rights Council.

By getting involved in a way which minimizes the rebels', and therefore America's, chance of victory, Obama is not just making a bad short-term military decision but a long-term error as well. If America gets in now and sides with the rebels just in time for them to be utterly crushed, it will do great damage to America's military reputation in the region, a reputation which -- whether liberals like it or not -- is critical to maintaining a semblance of stability in the region.

This means that if America goes in to Libya, especially with anything more than a no-fly zone, we will have to take a much more aggressive, offensive posture against the Gaddafi regime, perhaps even secretly trying to kill him (which we should have done long ago) because the rebels will not be able to win with the more passive (if one can call a no-fly zone passive) US assistance which might have been enough earlier.

It's not just "Obama-hating conservatives" who are fed up with the president's waffling. The Daily is reporting that Hillary Clinton is "looking to the exits" and that she's "fed up with a president 'who can't make his mind up.'"

Sure, it's partisan fun to point out President Obama's utter lack of leadership (on everything, not just the current turmoil in Libya.) But it bears repeating that indecision is incompetence when your job is to be an executive decision maker, and that that incompetence can do, and is likely doing, great harm to the U.S. both at home and abroad.

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