President Obama explained America’s military involvement in Libya in a speech last night:
Defending the first war launched on his watch, President Barack Obama declared Monday night that the United States intervened in Libya to prevent a slaughter of civilians that would have stained the world’s conscience and “been a betrayal of who we are.” Yet he ruled out targeting Moammar Gadhafi, warning that trying to oust him militarily would be a costly mistake. Obama announced that NATO would take command over the entire Libya operation on Wednesday, keeping his pledge to get the U.S. out of the lead — but offering no estimate on when the conflict might end.
He never described the U.S.-led military campaign as a “war” and gave no details on its costs, but he offered an expansive case for why he believed it was in the national interest of the United States and allies to act.
In blunt terms, Obama said the U.S.-led response had stopped Gadhafi’s advances and halted a slaughter he warned could have shaken the stability of an entire region.
“To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and — more profoundly — our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are,” Obama said. “Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as president, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.”
From the Washington Post
Two of Victor Davis Hanson’s observations about our new war:
6) It’s Only Congress. Both Bushes went to the U.S. Congress before they bombed and invaded. Clinton and Obama did not. Is there a pattern here? The liberal War Powers Act is a good brake on conservative Strangloves, but a mere nuisance to humanitarian liberal McNamaras? We can argue over the need to get congressional approval before major military operations (I think we must), but I don’t think in my lifetime a U.S. president has ever asked for both a UN and Arab League OK — and not the sanction of the Congress of his own country (e.g., our reps were voted in, theirs were not). That paradox is also unsustainable. At some point the president will either 1) ignore the limitations of the UN and Arab League mandated no-fly-zones (while praising them to the skies); or 2) get so involved that when he finally goes to Congress, Libya is a fait accompli in the way Clinton finessed it during the Balkan bombing. (I am still waiting for Joe Biden to go to Congress to impeach his boss, as he once boasted twice that he would do if any president bombed a Middle East country without congressional approval. Or for that matter, I am still waiting for Senator Obama to demand that President Obama get approval from his peers before, not after, bombing.)
7) Oh, So that Was What Iraq Was About. Libya is now an exegesis of the Iraq War. By now we know that the Bush-Cheney “shredding” of the Constitution (e.g., tribunals, wiretaps, intercepts, renditions, preventative detention, Predator drones, and Guantanamo Bay) was simply a liberal talking point. Why do we know that? Because Obama has either embraced or expanded all of those anti-terrorism protocols, and even hired the very lawyers and deans to legitimize them who used to sue the government to stop them. But Libya was the capstone of the entire liberal reset. When the MSNBC talking heads now support bombing an oil-producing Muslim Arab country that does not threaten our national security — without congressional approval, and with fewer allies than went with us to Afghanistan and Iraq — then we realize the entire Iraq hysteria was simply partisan politics, not about principles. That’s why we won’t see Rendition II at the movies, a return of Cindy Sheehan to network news, or Michael Moore in the VIP seats at the 2012 Democratic convention.
Supporters of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, do you support the war in Libya also? Opponents of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, are you supporting this one, since it is Obama’s war rather than Bush’s war? Those of you who support the humanitarian mission of this conflict, do you think the President has been following the right process, acting at the behest of the UN rather than Congress and turning over command to other countries?
And, finally, how do you think this will turn out? A quick engagement, overthrowing Gadaffi and then we leave, having set Libya free? Or will this turn into another quagmire?