Saturday, March 26, 2011

Notes on Libya

To put it mildly, the Libyan situation is complex and more than a little perplexing to your humble blogger. Honestly, I'm not sure where I stand on our intervention in the region, but I do have some thoughts on some of the "smaller" issues surrounding it.

The Big Question: There's a question I haven't seen anyone but me ask since the start of hostilities in Libya: Do the Libyans want us involved? This is a vital question because a wrong answer can feed into the very perception of America we have been trying to overcome in the Middle East. The last time we got involved in a purely internal struggle was in Kosovo, and neither the Serbians nor the Albanians wanted our help. Yet, we "helped" the Albanians (and, surprise surprise, al Qaeda) to do...exactly what the Serbians were doing to them. Until we know for certain whether either side of the Libyan conflict really wants America's help, we could be making the same mistake we did in Kosovo.

Impeachment for Obama?: Ohio Congressman Dennis Kucinich recently raised some eyebrows when he said Obama should be impeached for launching missile attacks into Libya. He has since walked back his comments, saying impeachment would be a "non-starter." Personally, I don't think President Obama should be impeached for the missile attacks, as they were done under the auspices of the War Powers Act of 1973. The War Powers Act gives the President the ability to send troops into combat provided he gives Congress at least 48 hours notice. Since there were no troops actually engaged in the missile strikes, the President was acting in accordance with his duties as Commander In Chief, in my opinion. Thus, impeachment under Kucinich's notion would definitely be a non-starter.

However...: After Obama said there would be no ground troops involved in the Libyan conflict, it turns out there will be Marines going to Libya as ground troops. If Obama failed to give Congress notice, then a case for impeachment could be made under the War Powers Act. However, we would most likely see a similar situation to when Bill Clinton was impeached and nothing would be done. I hope no Republicans undertake an impeachment effort in this case because it wouldn't help.

A Follower, Not a Leader: I've long said Obama was more of a follower instead of a leader. The Libyan situation bears that out perfectly. Whether it was waiting for the United Nations to sign off on military action, allowing other NATO countries to spearhead the attacks while we provide the bulk of the military hardware, or his unwillingness to speak to the American people about our involvement in Libya, we are seeing a man whose actions speak louder than his words. And those actions (or lack thereof) do not speak well of his leadership.

The President's Speech: Many people on both sides of the aisle are urging President Obama to address the nation as to why we're involved in Libya. Democrat strategists, on the other hand, are saying the President doesn't need to make a speech because then the Libyan conflict would be his instead of the UN's. Granted, from a political standpoint, such a speech would be a clear indication of Obama's "ownership" of the conflict, but there is a greater dynamic at work here. Most Americans, myself included, really don't have a sense as to why we're there in the first place. If only to address those questions, the President owes it to the American people to give his rationale. And it sounds like he will on Monday.

What's In a Name?: Does anyone outside of the Administration and the press know what the name of the Libyan operation is? I had to do some digging because the name really isn't all that memorable or fear-inducing. It's Operation Odyssey Dawn. And we're not at war; we're in a "kinetic military action." Is it just me, or do neither one of these make any sense whatsoever?

I'm sure I'll have more thoughts on the Libyan war...I mean the Libyan kinetic military action...soon.

No comments: