Please Hand Our “Leader” a Shovel

By Craig Andresen on March 29, 2011

In what I consider to be a “Too little too late” speech concerning our “kinetic action” (a redundancy) against Libya, President Obama failed to, as he so often utters, “Make perfectly clear” many things that must be known.

He failed to explain just WHO the Libyan rebels really are. I believe it’s NOT because he doesn’t know. I believe it’s because he DOES know. We have heard from 1 or 2 who consider themselves “leaders” of the rebel forces that, in part, they have been backed by…Al Qaeda. It is certainly not beyond comprehension that the Muslim Brotherhood is also involved. One must take into account that while not WELL armed, those rebels ARE armed with small arms, RPG’s and anti aircraft guns. Where do you think those came from?

How could Obama stand before the American people and state we are helping, in Libya, those who in fact are our enemies elsewhere?

  • Obama failed to even ONCE mention Gadaffi’s involvement in the bombing of PanAM 103.
  • He failed to outline a clear strategy. Obama says Gadaffi must go but offers no clear way to MAKE Gadaffi go.
  • Obama failed to answer questions regarding an exit strategy.
  • He failed to make clear exactly what end result in Libya we’re looking for and what would considered success.
  • Obama failed to explain why, if as he states, we’re NOT going to put boots on the ground in Libya, there are 2000 Marines heading to that region.
  • While he bragged about how quickly the coalition was built and stated that the U.S. reserved the right to act unilaterally to protect our interests and values he failed to provide any reason why we did not do so in this case.
  • Obama even failed, miserably, to explain why we are taking such action in Libya when we are NOT doing the same in other troubled regions around the world.

What Obama DID do was offer up a rather disingenuous and narcissistic defense of HIMSELF and THAT is far from presidential in my opinion.

When Ronald Reagan spoke to the nation regarding actions taken against Libya and Gadaffi, it took 7 minutes and he did it from the oval office at the very time that those action had begun. It was short, to the point, left no doubt as to our resolve and allowed no speculation as to why it was being done. Before Reagan took that action and made that speech, he went to congress and received their authorization to act.

Last night, 3/28/11, Barak Obama went before the American people, not in the oval office but at a university in a room with an audience and spoke about taking action against Libya and Gadaffi. Having an audience is important to President Obama as it allows for, as is custom when a president leaves the room, a standing ovation. He seems to need every illusion of credibility he can conjure up.

The differences were startling.

“Tonight, I’d like to update the American people on the international effort that we have led in Libya –- what we’ve done, what we plan to do, and why this matters to us.”

In that opening statement, Obama lost all manner of credibility. We did NOT lead anything.

His opening line was a tip-off. An update. He HAD to deliver an update because he, in the 9 days since what he and his administration have decided is a “kinetic action” started, has said nothing. In fact, for most of those 9 days, Obama was on vacation in South America.

Obama then went on, through the next two paragraphs of his speech, to pay tribute to our military personnel. It wasn’t until the 4th graph that he struck a chord that he would repeat several times…the cost of action.

“For generations, the United States of America has played a unique role as an anchor of global security and as an advocate for human freedom. Mindful of the risks and costs of military action, we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.”

Keep in mind, he is NOT referring to the greatest cost of all, our military personnel’s liver, he is referring to economic cost. It’s quite telling as to his mindset.

“…Qaddafi began attacking his people. As President, my immediate concern was the safety of our citizens, so we evacuated our embassy and all Americans who sought our assistance.”

He sent them a sightseeing ferry which was in fact too small to handle the high seas. That ferry was stuck for nearly a day before it could get out of the area and to safety.

“Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition and the Arab League appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. And so at my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass a historic resolution that authorized a no-fly zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.”

Obama certainly did not lead this effort. Most of the players were already at the table well before Obama directed our diplomats to seek the resolution creating the no-fly zone. The sad fact of the matter is, France called for the action before Obama reluctantly boarded the bandwagon. I would even go so far as to suggest Obama was shamed into it.

That, again, is NOT leading.

“At this point, the United States and the world faced a choice. Qaddafi declared he would show “no mercy” to his own people. He compared them to rats, and threatened to go door to door to inflict punishment. In the past, we have seen him hang civilians in the streets, and kill over a thousand people in a single day. Now we saw regime forces on the outskirts of the city. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.”

“It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen. And so nine days ago, after consulting the bipartisan leadership of Congress, I authorized military action to stop the killing and enforce U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973.”

Are these NOT the same arguments Obama himself and his party railed against when George W. Bush began action against Iraq? A brutal dictator, killing his own people, ignoring U.N resolutions, national interests etc. And NOW, Obama uses the same line of reasoning to do what?

NOT to justify taking action rather, I submit, to defend HIMSELF for taking action and THAT equates to a further loss of credibility.

“In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition. This includes our closest allies -– nations like the United Kingdom, France, Canada, Denmark, Norway, Italy, Spain, Greece, and Turkey –- all of whom have fought by our sides for decades. And it includes Arab partners like Qatar and the United Arab Emirates, who have chosen to meet their responsibilities to defend the Libyan people.”

By uttering the words, “…we have been joined by…” Obama AGAIN eludes to LEADING when in fact it was WE who joined THEM…not the other way around. In this paragraph, we also must understand that while Obama touts the coalition we joined, he and his party have spent the last 8 years dismissing the coalition that was formed by Bush 41 against Iraq. It is also important to note that the coalition against Iraq was LARGER than the one we joined against Libya.

“Moreover, we’ve accomplished these objectives consistent with the pledge that I made to the American people at the outset of our military operations. I said that America’s role would be limited; 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.”

“Our most effective alliance, 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 Libyan civilians. This transfer from the United States to NATO will take place on Wednesday. Going forward, the lead in enforcing the no-fly zone and protecting civilians on the ground will transition to our allies and partners, and I am fully confident that our coalition will keep the pressure on Qaddafi’s remaining forces.”

Let me get this straight. Jumping in late then lobbing the majority of missiles in the early days before abdicating our role to a committee is…LEADERSHIP? Telling our enemy exactly what we will NOT do in advance is…LEADERSHIP? OUR COALITION?

“…the risk and cost of this operation — to our military and to American taxpayers — will be reduced significantly.”

Remember, he seems more concerned with the dollars and cents than with the lives involved.

“It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country -– Libya — at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.”

See above how “Costs” now comes before “Risks” which is exactly what I mean when I say the dollars and cents, to Obama, are more important to the lives of our military personnel. This paragraph is also confusing in that there have been, are, and will continue to be places where this very scenario is in play. Will we now use our “kinetic” ability everywhere this happens? He simply doesn’t say.

“The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support. It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do. If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter. We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air. The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater. So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.”

So, not that we’re leading by bowing out of the responsibility of leadership…What if Gadaffi DOESN’T leave? What do we do THEN?

“In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone. As we have in Libya, our task is instead to mobilize the international community for collective action. Because contrary to the claims of some, American leadership is not simply a matter of going it alone and bearing all of the burden ourselves. Real leadership creates the conditions and coalitions for others to step up as well; to work with allies and partners so that they bear their share of the burden and pay their share of the costs; and to see that the principles of justice and human dignity are upheld by all.”

More false claims of leading and more focusing on the monetary matters of being “kinetic.”

I could go into each and every paragraph from the speech and point out even more inconsistencies and false statements but suffice it to say, in whole, this speech was about Obama himself and  an awkward and sidestepping dance around the facts while ignoring the very questions posed by his critics.

As I said from the onset, his, and therefore our nation’s actions have and continue to speak volumes regarding the action and lack thereof, the timing of it and the lack of clarity surrounding it than did the 20 plus minute speech complete with applause at its conclusion by Obama. Not only do actions speak louder than words, I submit they will reverberate much longer as well.

President Obama was as much the leader in this matter as the guy with a shovel behind the horses is the leader of a Cavalry parade.

President Reagan was a LEADER.

President Obama’s Hit and Run “Leadership”

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