President Obama recently gave a wide ranging interview to the New York Times, and his comments on Libya made my jaw hit the floor. I really try not to be political on this blog, but after hearing them, I couldn’t believe our foreign policy could be that naive. Before we get to that, though, a little recap of Libya analysis done by a peon outside the administration’s foreign policy team (me).
- The Libyan Conundrum, (14 March 2010 -Before we conducted airstrikes, and I completely agreed with the administration against the Republican Hawks):
“…And therein lies the rub. The problem with doing anything at all in Libya is that we cannot predict what the rebels truly want – or even if there is a unified rebel command. People state that getting rid of Ghadafi is the answer, but that’s only part of the equation. What comes after will be the true test, and we can’t accurately predict what that will be…Gates has been castigated recently for saying a no-fly zone would potentially cause us to enter into a third war in the Middle East. He’s ridiculed by people looking at half the equation, thinking our involvement will end when Ghadafi is gone. He knows it’s more, and that just getting Ghadafi out doesn’t mean victory… The U.S. can’t just walk away like we did in Afghanistan in the ‘80s after the Soviets left. Well, we could, but that would be foolish. Something the administration understands.”
2. The Libyan Conundrum Part II: What Now? (20 March 2010 – After airstrikes were initiated, and we went down the rabbit hole):
“…This ‘adventure’ into Libya is one of the most ill-conceived, poorly coordinated efforts that has ever come out of the United Nations, a body famous for ill-conceived, poorly-coordinated policy. Especially when other leaders in the region are committing the same types of atrocities, such as Saleh, the president of Yemen, who just killed 56 civilians with sniper fire. Are we going to attack Yemen next? While France and others are screaming for Ghadafi’s removal, I haven’t heard a single statement about whom or what sort of government would replace him. Does anyone have any idea at all? Does anyone care?
One thing’s for sure – I was wrong about the Obama administration understanding we can’t simply walk away after causing Ghadafi’s fall. Apparently we can – and will.”
3. The Libyan Conundrum Part III: Marx Brothers Foreign Policy (22 April 2010 – Airstrikes ongoing, Ghadaffi is doomed).
“Am I saying we should take him out? No, actually I’m not. Primarily, because I’m worried about what ‘leadership’ would replace him. I’d like to think that we have some sort of secret plan in place behind-the-scenes – and that this had been thought through before committing to action. Maybe that we had found some Libyan “Thomas Jefferson” to take over. After seeing this play out, I’m fairly sure we have no idea whether the rebels are extremists or not, and we are now blindly following a path based not on helping Libya, but simply protecting the damage to our own reputation, regardless of the cost to Libyan civilians. We’re simply throwing good money after bad so we don’t look stupid. Even General Ham, Commander of Africa Command and the person who oversaw the initial operations of Odyssey Dawn, told congress he was against arming the rebels because we don’t know enough about their intentions or where the weapons would end up. What does that say about our policy? Why is removing Ghadafi a goal when we’re unwilling to trust the very people who will replace him? What on earth is the United States doing?”
4. The Libyan Conundrum Part IV: How Do You Like Me Now? (13 September 2012 – two days after Benghazi)
“If anything, Libya should remind us that there is never a conflict “won on the cheap”, and that victory is not achieved the moment the opposing side capitulates. Believing such folly inevitably leads to what we now have in Libya, and a president giving a hollow promise to bring the killers to justice. ”
5. President Obama on the current Libyan chaos, in an interview conducted with Thomas Friedman of the New York Times on 8 August 2014:
“I think we [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this. Then it’s the day after Qaddafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everybody is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America.’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions. … So that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, ‘Should we intervene, militarily? Do we have an answer [for] the day after?’ ”
When I heard that statement, I was astounded. Literally flabbergasted. This was from the President of the United States? Really? He had to wreck a country, with all the follow on death and destruction, to learn that lesson? Well, to his credit I guess he DID learn. It’s a shame that his entire foreign policy team had to turn a sovereign nation into a terrorist mecca for that little nugget of wisdom, though. They could have simply talked to ANYONE who’s had a tour in Iraq. Which is the ultimate irony: Obama was against the Bush administration’s attempt to reconstruct Iraq after demolishing its institutions, and yet he now realizes that that’s exactly what was needed in Libya. AFTER he pulled our troops out of Iraq. In his words from the clip above, “…They had a despot for forty years in place…There were no traditions to build on….”
Huh, sounds vaguely familiar…did you check the Iraq tapes on CNN before going in? Did anyone in your administration? An administration picture should be next to the word “Irony” in the next dictionary.
Or the word stupidity.