March 8, 2011
Obama gets Carter's Disease in LibyaBy James Lewis
Some great powers talk big and act big. Some do big things quietly. But you can't talk big and do nothing and still expect to be taken seriously in a world of ruthless power players.
That's what Obama is doing in Libya today, following in the pathetic footsteps of Jimmy Carter and Lyndon B. Johnson.
Obama is a grandstanding blow-hard, and the world understands that by now. Telling Hosni Mubarak to leave the presidency of Egypt after 30 years of a very successful alliance that stabilized the Middle East was unnecessary, dangerous, and humiliating to a man who deserved better from the United States. But Obama did more. He has just rationalized and excused the very likely event of a radical Islamist takeover of Egypt. He thereby added foolhardiness to his usual empty boasting. That makes his ego tripping dangerous.
This is the same Obama who accepted Mubarak's invitation two years ago to deliver his we-love-Muslims speech from Cairo's Al Azhar University. He first made nice with Mubarak, and then stabbed him in the back, while puffing up his Zeppelin-size ego.
How long does it take for the Ahmadinejads of this world to take the measure of this man? About 15 seconds. All the power mongers now understand that America under Obama is a paper tiger. Under Bush we were feared, while European socialists loathed the United States. But Khadafi gave up his nuclear weapons program right after Bush invaded Iraq. That was not happenstance. Khadafi feared Bush, just as he feared Ronald Reagan. Today, no enemy has given up anything since Obama took his Nobel Prize for Hollow Rhetoric.
Today Obama is dithering about a possible no-fly zone over Libya, and Bill Daley, his chief of staff, is telling military experts outside the administration that they don't know what they are talking about. A no-fly zone is an aerial blockade, one that would make it hard or impossible for Khadafi to use his planes and helicopters to bomb and strafe Libyan rebels. If it is effective it could knock Khadafi out of power, which is what Obama is demanding. (Whether he should be demanding it is another thing entirely, of course.) But once the President of the United States stakes his credibility on a imperialistic demand for some crummy Generalissimo to resign, he has to put up or shut up. Obama is doing neither.
Now Obama's chief of staff is telling the world that a no-fly zone can't be done. It's too hard or dangerous for the United States military to do. It's too provocative. It could go wrong.
Well, yes. That's why the voters usual elect adults to the presidency. This is the point where the kids are told to leave the room. LBJ would never let the military do their jobs in Vietnam, and as a result Ho Chi Minh killed hundreds of thousands of South Vietnamese who staked their lives on American promises. Jimmy Carter couldn't stop micromanaging the rescue effort for American diplomats in Tehran. Carter was defeated by the voters after a year of dithering.
But Obama is the ditheriest of them all. He has absolutely no experience making difficult decisions. He is the "vote present" guy who talks big and does nothing. The media elected him, as Joe Biden put it, because he was a "clean, articulate black guy." Now Uncle Sam is wearing the diapers.
When Khomeini killed his opposition in Tehran with Carter's tacit consent, Jimmy did nothing. Khomeini was a murderous power player. Like his disciple Ahmadinejad, the first thing he did was to test Carter's will. Finding no resistance, Khomeini pushed America and the West to the max, until Ronald Reagan got elected, when Khomeini instant released the American hostages. The Left has been evading that plain and obvious lesson now for thirty years.
When Mike Wallace interviewed Ahmadinejad for CBS two years ago, and began to raise just one tough question, A'jad immediately challenged him: Do you want this interview or not? Wallace instantly bowed down to the dictator and switched to softballs.
That's how thugs operate, and Obama does the same thing when he feels confident. That's how he dealt with Congressional Republicans when he had a majority in both Houses. Obama never argued on the merits. His answer to Republican proposals was just: "I won." It is an Ahmadinejad answer.
In foreign policy Obama has no confidence because he has no competence. He also doesn't let the adults in the military do the job that he cannot do. So he is instantly and correctly seen as helpless. A'jad has had Obama's number for the last few years. That number is zero.
Welcome to America as paper tiger. We produce no oil, but we make really slick excuses.
After Gulf War I the United States imposed a no-fly zone over Saddam's Iraq. Today we have two decades of more advanced aerospace technology, including anti-missile defenses to extend over Khadafi's capital of Tripoli. Aegis cruisers can be sent to any ocean in the world to knock down enemy planes and missiles within hundreds of miles. Military planning is immensely complex, of course, and outsiders should not guess about the specifics. The Pentagon runs vast computer models and real-life exercises for that. But the idea that the US cannot stop the pathetic Libyan air force is beneath contempt. We can do it. Even Europe can do it, using our anti-missile technology. If necessary we could pay the Russians to do it for us (sine they now have a naval base in Syria).
Mubarak must be wondering today why he just didn't give Obama the fickle finger of fate six weeks ago when O ordered him to leave. All the Muslim regimes that were running scared a week ago are now realizing that Obama will do exactly nothing if they kill a lot of rebels. Most important of all, the madcap regime of Tehran, the biggest threat in the Middle East, has nothing but justified contempt for this president. A'jad sends his Basiji thugs to drive SUV's into civilian demonstrations in the streets of Tehran, and Obama never told him to resign. If you and I can see that, so can Putin and Hu, the newest Kim and every other dictator in the world.
Today it's lethal to be an American ally in a dangerous neighborhood. We've even outsourced the Pirates of Penzance in their little boats off Somalia. We don't even defend freedom of navigation any more. But being our deadly enemy is easy and rewarding. The Iranians are spreading an empire for the first time in a thousand years.
Somebody bring back the adults, quick.
Is Rummy doing anything important right now?