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Posted at 10:04 AM ET, 03/ 7/2011

Friday question answered

By Jennifer Rubin

In response to my question about how Obama is handling Libya's civil war, and what, if anything, he should do differently, a few readers thought inaction was perfectly fine. Steveh46 didn't see anything wrong with observing a massacre from afar:

Obama's doing fine. He ought to keep doing what he's doing which is letting the Libyans fight it out on their own.

Daskinner seemed resigned to our inactivity, writing in part that "Obama really has no choice but to sit and hope nothing lands on him. By all means, however, the State Department and perhaps the CIA, absolutely dropped the ball on the cascade, was caught completely unprepared for events."

But other readers were aghast at Obama's paralysis. TheStatistQuo aptly summed up Obama's inactivity:

The President is actively observing. He is examining and re-examining policy options, hoping for a resolution without US input. It's hard to tell the difference between actively observing and his good old fashioned dithering (see Afghanistan). I believe he is still disoriented from the shambles of his Muslim Outreach. In 26 months Obama has watched Iranian and Syrian engagement fall apart in tatters. Egypt, Bahrain, Tunisia and now Libya are now in disarray. I think he expected his overseas popularity, coupled with his promotion of a more nuanced globalist vision, would trump a more traditional US foreign policy toward the Middle East. Instead, chaos reigns. Now he is stuck with traditional US foreign policy options and he fears making the wrong decision.

What he should do, is do what he says. If he's concerned about a refugee disaster, or mass slaughter, he should state it (not Hillary) and move supplies and equipment to the region accordingly. If a no fly zone is feasible he should publicly state it so, and implement it. If he does not think a no fly zone is feasible, he should say so, and keep his powder dry. We simply do not know what he wants (now that "smart diplomacy" is anything but) and he should assertively educate: the public, our adversaries and our friends of both his administration's strategy and attendant tactics. Otherwise, we will continue to be as confused as to Obama's Middle East intentions as the Libyan's already are.

The lack of decisiveness does, I agree, reflect an administration in over its head and adrift. There are, as other readers observed, many options for policymakers. As John Wohlstetter notes, a president determined to forestall further bloodshed would entail a number of steps:

(1) This means ignoring the UN, as Bill Clinton did re Kosovo. (2) It means putting Gaddafi's planes & tanks out of commission--if a "no-fly" zone is too burdensome, use specialized munitions to crater the runways (cruise missiles, surface-to-air missiles), grounding Gaddafi's planes. (3) Take out his air defenses, then send in tank-killer air-strikes. (4) Use the porous border with Egypt to send in arms. (5) Establish a safe zone encompassing Libya's eastern oil-fields (most of Libya's oil), plus key ports (Tobruk, Benghazi) depriving Gaddafi of essential revenues.

But that would reflect a president confident in American power and fully aware that when America shrinks from its role as leader of the West, the world becomes bloodier and more dangerous, while the world's despots become bolder and more repressive.

By Jennifer Rubin  | March 7, 2011; 10:04 AM ET
Categories:  Friday question  | Tags:  Jennifer Rubin  
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Comments


Down Memory Lane Part One:

"Headline I Never Thought I'd Write: Bush Calls Gaddafi to Express Gratitude
November 17, 2008 3:27 PM"
President George W. Bush today made the first known phone call between a sitting American President and Libyan leader Muammar al-Gaddafi, "a man responsible for hundreds of American deaths and who President Reagan once reviled as 'this Mad Dog of the Middle East.'"
The purpose was to thank Gaddafi for following through with the $1.5 billion settlement deal for the 1980s-era victims of Libyan terror acts.
"The President called Libyan leader Colonel Qadhafi to express his satisfaction that the claims settlement agreement was fully implemented on October 31. The two leaders discussed that this agreement should help to bring a painful chapter in the history between our two countries closer to closure," NSC spox Gordon Johndroe said in a paper statement. "While we will always mourn the loss of life as a result of past terrorist activities, the settlement agreement is an important step in repairing the relationship between Libya and the United States. Libya has taken important steps on the road to normalizing its relations with the international community, beginning with its renunciation in 2003 of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction. The United States will continue to work on the bilateral relationship with Libya, with the aim of establishing a dialogue that encompasses all subjects, including human rights, reform, and the fight against terrorism."
And believe it or not, Seif al-Islam Gaddafi -- Muammar's son -- will meet with Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice at the State Department tomorrow, to deepen the ties between the United States and Libya.
http://blogs.abcnews.com/politicalpunch/2008/11/a-headline-i-ne.html

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 10:39 AM | Report abuse


Memory Lane/Part Two:
"The Bush Administration has been quick to stress Libya's comeback as a model that Iran and North Korea should now follow. But it may have been Gaddafi's rogue pursuit of nuclear weapons, more than anything else, that made Rice's announcement Monday possible. As Gaddafi sees it, Libya's nuke program gave him some much-needed leverage in his dealings with Washington. The bargain gave each what they needed: Gaddafi is a pariah no more, and the Bush administration has a success story in the Middle East.
It's not necessarily the complete success Bush may have had in mind. In citing Gaddafi as a model, Rice has signaled the Administration's priority for security over the cause of freedom that both Gaddafi and Bush love to talk about. Even though Gaddafi has done little to loosen his dictatorship, British Prime Minister Tony Blair and French President Jacques Chirac, among other statesmen, have already visited Libya to signal the West's pleasure. President Bush, or his successor, could be next to visit the leader in his tent.
Gaddafi was right, it turns out, when he concluded our last interview in wonderment. "The world," he said, "is changing so dramatically."
http://www.time.com/time/world/article/0,8599,1194766,00.html#ixzz1FveqrLGN

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 10:44 AM | Report abuse

Todays friend is tomorrow's mortal enemy,from the Trotskyite handbook for political tactics. The hypocrisy of JR and her Ilk is so huge that it is almost admirable.

"On Oct. 31, Libya paid $1.5 billion into a fund that will pay claims for the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing over Lockerbie, Scotland, and the 1986 bombing of a German disco. Another $300 million will go to Libyan victims of U.S. airstrikes ordered in retaliation for the disco bombings. The payment cleared the last hurdle in restoration of full normalization of diplomatic relations between the United States and Libya.
Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice plans to meet Tuesday with Gaddafi's son Saif al-Islam Gaddafi, who will be in Washington on a private visit, officials said. In early September, after the settlement deal, Rice became the most senior U.S. official to visit Libya in more than a half century.
See, the proper way to become "not a terrorist" after being the commander of an attack that killed 270 innocent people is to have an oil rich country and send a billion and a half dollars of the money you're going to get selling it to the families of your victims, so as to replace them. The media will let you and the Bush Administration off, in such a case. Hell, they'll hardly even talk about it."
http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2008/11/17/AR2008111702975.html
"While we will always mourn the loss of life as a result of past terrorist activities, the settlement agreement is an important step in repairing the relationship between Libya and the United States," Johndroe's statement read.
"Libya has taken important steps on the road to normalizing its relations with the international community, beginning with its renunciation in 2003 of terrorism and weapons of mass destruction," the statement said. "The United States will continue to work on the bilateral relationship with Libya, with the aim of establishing a dialogue that encompasses all subjects, including human rights reform and the fight against terrorism."

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 10:57 AM | Report abuse

Rubin states:
"America shrinks from its role as leader of the West, the world becomes bloodier and more dangerous.."

Shrinking or protecting America? Let's see, Iraq wasn't a huge bloody civil war mess until Ms. Rubin's liberal cohorts conned us into a hopey changey invasion of Iraq.

Of course American blood doesn't matter in her "more bloodier world" equation. 4,000 REAL Americans are dead, thousands more stuck in a civil war all for a liberal socialist romp in the ME.

As you can now see, necons are linerals. After all, they supported Clinton's excellent Kosovo adventure cheered on by Rubin and her ilk. Sean Hannity at the time didn't. He knew better when it was a democratic president.

It's not America shrinking that brings more blood and violence to the world, it's liberal neocon policies. REAL conservatives such as Reagan would be aghast at what these people have done to his party. He's probably rolling in his grave over how neocons have bastardized conservative values.

Posted by: mfray | March 7, 2011 11:01 AM | Report abuse

rcaruth said:
"The hypocrisy of JR and her Ilk is so huge that it is almost admirable."
------------------------------------------
True. The neocons needed a "victory" because of how badly Iraq was going, so they paraded out the "benifits" of their unconservative romp. "Hey, you see, Gaddafi gave up his WMD." Neocons parroted this line ad nauseum.

Now Iraq is a Shia state that's buddy-buddy with Iran and Libya is a civil war mess. Thanks Jennifer/Bill/Norman/Paul/Richard/Elliot/Douglas/Clifford, may we have another?

Pretty nice to always be wrong on issues of war and still be able to get good paying gigs without having to sacrifice. But I guess the liberal media always protects their own.

Posted by: mfray | March 7, 2011 11:13 AM | Report abuse

Rubin said:
"Steveh46 didn't see anything wrong with observing a massacre from afar.."
----------------------------------------
Rubin didn't see anything wrong with observing 4,000 Americans massacred from afar...

Hypocritcal much Ms. Liberal?

Posted by: mfray | March 7, 2011 11:20 AM | Report abuse

mfray:

Rubin moved from military action on Lybia,to Discretionary Spending in record time. Can't blame her.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 11:21 AM | Report abuse

rcaruth said:
"Rubin moved from military action on Lybia,to Discretionary Spending in record time. Can't blame her."
------------------------------------------

I wonder if "neocon whiplash" is covered under her health insurance?

Posted by: mfray | March 7, 2011 11:43 AM | Report abuse

wonder if "neocon whiplash" is covered under her health insurance?
Posted by: mfray

Pre-Existing Condition.

Seriously MFRAY,I'm beginning to sweat it,we're being allowed to trash NEOJennifer,and to have a lot of fun without interruption from the NC true believers. Normally,I might think that our recent hypocrisy normalizing relations with Lybia would be a barrier to NC retaliation,but then I remember that no hypocrisy or illogicality is too great for the experienced Neocon,in fact the greater the lie,the greater their enthusiasm in articulating it. They learned their trade from the Twentieth Century Master of Dissembling.

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 11:55 AM | Report abuse

POOR IRAQ:Nobody paying attention to the most advanced Democracy in the Region.
"Abe Greenwald 03.07.2011 - 11:18 AM
The New York Times reports on very worrisome happenings in Iraq: “Two political parties that led demonstrations in Baghdad over the past two weeks said on Monday that security forces controlled by Prime Minister Nuri Kamal al-Maliki had ordered them to close their offices. The actions came amid growing concerns that Mr. Maliki, who is backed by the United States, is using force and other measures to stifle this country’s democracy.”
This would not be going on if the Obama administration had taken a minimal interest in the war that the U.S. will soon have devoted almost a decade to winning. Washington has seen Iraq through far more difficult challenges than this: heading off civil war, getting Maliki to turn his guns on Shiite militias, and handing security for cities over to Iraqis — to say nothing of pulling together an Iraqi parliamentary democracy.
We see popular convulsions across the Middle East, and without having any real handle on who or what is being represented, we pronounce them democratic. At the same time, we watch with perfect indifference AS THE ARAB WORLD"S ONE VERIFIABLE(LOL)DEMOCRATIC PROJECT COURTS POLITICAL NECROSIS*. Today’s Iraq, paid for in thousands of American lives, should continue as a regional model of democratic governance, a thriving rebuke to the dead letter that is the despotic ownership of Arab populations. But the U.S. administration looks to the only viable Arab democracy and sees nothing more than some loony New Yorker cover drawing depicting Bush-age imperialism. So Barack Obama’s “responsible” exit from Iraq continues apace."
See Contentions today/Abe Greenfield
*STILLBORN&NECROTIC

Posted by: rcaruth | March 7, 2011 12:14 PM | Report abuse

rcaruth -
W was just doing the carrot thing, being nice to a bad guy, and it worked just as well as his saying nice things about Pootie Poot. But one condition Gaddafi set in his 2003 negotiations with the Brits and US for the abandonment of his nuke program was the normalization of Libya’s relations with the rest of the world. What’s interesting to me is that this deal likely allowed the US and/or Israel to slow down Iran’s nuke program with the Stuxnet virus.

Libya had purchased all its nuke gear from the outlaw Pakistani A.Q. Khan network. The entire nuclear operation was moved to Oak Ridge National Laboratory (ORNL) in Tennessee in 2004.

Knoxville News Sentinel senior writer Frank Munger covers ORNL for the newspaper and was interested in the Libyan gear:
http://blogs.knoxnews.com/munger/2011/02/y-12-libya-stuxnet-and-things.html

//For a few years, the spokespeople acknowledged that the inventory of Libyan stuff remained at Y-12 "awaiting disposition" and would thereafter simply respond by saying there had been no change in the status. In more recent years, those responses turned to "no comment" or some slight variation of that.//

That all changed in August, 2010 when he was told that a fuller response would be forthcoming; got it in January or this year, “no comment.” Take a look at the link to see Munger’s conclusion: Libya’s P-1 centrifuges were used to test Stuxnet.

There’s a more comprehensive story from a different viewpoint here: http://www.ft.com/cms/s/2/7d8ce4c2-34b5-11e0-9ebc-00144feabdc0.html#axzz1FvtmBo3a

Back to your point, Bush was playing the pragmatist in a vain attempt to goad Gaddafi into reasonable behavior. It didn’t work.

Posted by: SCMike1 | March 7, 2011 12:34 PM | Report abuse

The only thing worse than war is one led by a liberal dimocrat. We should all pray that on this one, Obama dithers until the cows come home.

Posted by: flintston | March 7, 2011 1:36 PM | Report abuse

The only thing worse than war is one led by a liberal dimocrat. We should all pray that on this one, Obama dithers until the cows come home.

Posted by: flintston | March 7, 2011 1:40 PM | Report abuse

"The only thing worse than war is one led by a liberal dimocrat."

True. We had a liberal democrat/liberal neocon run Korea, Viet Nam & IraqII and each one was a complete disaster for this great country.

But I guess you have to be careful to generalize like that. After all, FDR was a hero to many neocons and he was uber-liberal.

Posted by: mfray | March 7, 2011 2:25 PM | Report abuse

I don't think many of Ms Rubin's readers are watching the news or (like her) keeping up with events and processing them logically. We are not passively observing events in Libya. We are doing what we can right now and in a manner that would seem to be reasonable considering our realistic options. We have been air lifting Egyptian workers and others from the Tunisian border since the weekend (see NBC News). We are allowing allies on the Security Council (France and UK) to draft a Resolution for a No-Fly zone. This, by the way, will go nowhere because the Russians do still have their veto and have said they will use it for that. Establishing a no-fly zone or any of the other military options proposed above are acts of war. I am not interested in unilaterally engaging in overt acts of war against another Arab regime. Particularly one that actually does have ties to Al Queda. I am not interested in losing a single NATO or American plane over this. Our direct national interests are not yet at stake here in what would become a distraction from our direct national interest in focusing our air assets on Iraq and Afganistan. I would also like to make clear that even a perfectly executed no-fly zone over Libya would not result in passivism among Gaddafi's forces on the ground. Further, Gaddafi does not have significant smart bomb resources so any air attacks he launches are disproportional and largely ineffective against a ground-based insurgency. They have not been successful so far have they? A no-fly zone might help marginally on the ground, but the risks to NATO and the U.S. would be enormous. Our options in-country are limited. Just ask the British how hard it is to actually make contact with the rebels. They found out the hard way just this weekend. Could anyone propose ideas that are not predicated on cowboy foreign policy or neocon wet dreams for a change?

Posted by: tektonic | March 7, 2011 10:21 PM | Report abuse

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