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Posted at 9:25 AM ET, 02/24/2011

Why have a press conference on Libya at all?

By Jennifer Rubin

Unfortunately, it was not a Saturday Night Live routine. Wednesday afternoon, after being roundly criticized for saying so little and doing nothing on the slaughter in Libya, the president announced -- hold on to your hats! -- that he has asked his staff "to prepare the full range of options." And if that doesn't have the Butcher of Tripoli quaking in his boots, President Obama is going to get Secretary of State Hillary Clinton to call "a session of the Human Rights Council." I kid you not.

As Bill Kristol asks, where's the "fierce urgency of now" that Obama spoke about during his campaign? Bill observes: "So Qaddafi flies in mercenaries to kill people. And Obama flies diplomats around to consult with other diplomats about whether at some point we might possibly stop Qaddafi from flying in mercenaries to kill people."

We've run out of adjectives -- pathetic, inert, confused, etc. -- to describe the hapless Libya policy. Moreover, Obama's words are so imprecise that one would hardly know who is perpetrating the violence. He told us: "Yesterday a unanimous U.N. Security Council sent a clear message that it condemns the violence in Libya, supports accountability for the perpetrators and stands with the Libyan people." Who are the perpetrators? Do tell, Mr. President.

It's hard to fathom why he resorts to language as obtuse as this:

Like all governments, the Libyan government has a responsibility to refrain from violence, to allow humanitarian assistance to reach those in need and to respect the rights of its people. It must be held accountable for its failure to meet those responsibilities, and face the cost of continued violations of human rights.

I think we can all agree the "Libyan government" -- that would be Moammar Gaddafi -- has shirked that responsibility entirely. In fact, you might say -- unless you were the overwhelmed president -- that Gaddafi by slaughtering hundreds of his own people has committed crimes against humanity. (To quote Gov. Chris Christie, "Whoa ... I said it, and I didn't vaporize into the carpet.")

If there is some purpose to Obama's abject showing of weakness, I can't figure it out. But history won't much care about the reason for his paralysis, only about the tragedy that unfolded while he remained idle.

By Jennifer Rubin  | February 24, 2011; 9:25 AM ET
Categories:  foreign policy  
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Comments

Could it be...Groundhog Day and he's busy with his violin lesson? Just a thought.

Posted by: aardunza | February 24, 2011 9:40 AM | Report abuse

Obama's apologists in the press are speculating that he's holding his fire out of fear that if he's too forceful, or calls out Qaddafi by name, US citizens in Libya will be put in exponentially greater danger. The idea being that we need to get our people out before we really go after Qaddafi either rhetorically or any other way. I suppose that could be the reason, but that doesn't make it a good reason. If we're that concerned about our citizens over there, we should be moving heaven and earth to get them out. It's not like the unrest started yesterday. We've had plenty of time and plenty of signs that things were going to deteriorate to the point where our people could reasonably end up in harm's way. This is the real problem with the Libya policy. We were asleep at the switch when it came to an evacuation plan, and that delay (according to Obama's apologists) is now preventing us from doing anything constructive about the killing. It's the blind leading the blind over there.

Posted by: mbcnewspaper | February 24, 2011 9:50 AM | Report abuse

Quite right. We need to ask our allies in the Israeli Defense Force to activate all reserves and come up with 30,000 troops to accompany US forces in an invasion and 30 year military occupation of Lybia. It's the prudent thing to do.

Posted by: jiji1 | February 24, 2011 9:58 AM | Report abuse

Well, maybe Obama likes the butcher of Libya, following in the footstep of Carter whose family and members of his administration found him fascinating

Posted by: Abew | February 24, 2011 10:52 AM | Report abuse

I think Hopenchange comes from the academic world, where one does not make moral judgments of other countries, given the fact we once had slaves and did bad things to Indians. or something?

Posted by: jmpickett | February 24, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

So li'l Jennie, what are you suggesting...full scale military intervention? Be my guest, and take Bill Kristol with you...except, no, Billy boy avoided the war of his generation but is, of course, willing to engage troops wherever to further the utopian neocon fallacies he and you espouse.

Or is it this...change is coming to North Africa and the middle east...without American military intervention. I would say, compared to the 2 wars your neocon buddies left Obama...this mo' betta! Obama is following another far more tried and true tenet of American foreign policy..."Speak softly and carry a big stick!"

Posted by: mfkpadrefan | February 24, 2011 11:16 AM | Report abuse

He has more important things to worry about like the big PARTEE at the WH tonight in honor of Motown starring Nick Jonas of Jonas Brother's fame and long time Motown favorite as well as the Obama girl's favorite.

Posted by: Dalibama | February 24, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

As Bill Kristol asks, where's the "fierce urgency of now" that Obama spoke about during his campaign? Bill observes: "So Qaddafi flies in mercenaries to kill people. And Obama flies diplomats around to consult with other diplomats about whether at some point we might possibly stop Qaddafi from flying in mercenaries to kill people."

Once again, this points out the hypocrisy of the non-cons. Bleeding heart liberalism abroad, conservatism at home.

Maybe Mr. Kristol can convince Mr. Gates to hire U.S. mercenaries to help protect Libyans - using our tax dollars of course.

Posted by: mfray | February 24, 2011 11:25 AM | Report abuse

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