Obama Wussed Out
Mark Halperin is wrong. He's not a "dick." He's a wuss, and the story of how he just wussed out has not really been told. In a series of articles and posts here beginning back on March 8, I've followed the reported movements of the U.S. Navy's carrier strike groups around the world, arguing that they offer the best clue to President Barack Obama's strategic thinking on America's proper role in the world.
Mark Halperin is wrong. He's not a "dick." He's a wuss, and the story of how he just wussed out has not really been told.
In a series of articles and posts here beginning back on March 8, I've followed the reported movements of the U.S. Navy's carrier strike groups around the world, arguing that they offer the best clue to President Barack Obama's strategic thinking on America's proper role in the world.
This was undertaken as a thought experiment.
At the time, the Arab Spring had broken across the Middle East. Libya, it seemed to me, presented a fair test of Mr. Obama's intentions -- announced in his 2009 Cairo speech -- as to whether he wished to be perceived (and to act) as the Leader of the Free World. An important article on this topic by a disillusioned Yale professor appears this week in the New York Review of Books.
On March 8, as NATO began its UN-authorized humanitarian intervention in Libya, I highlighted the fact that (a) the United States had no capital ships (supercarriers or helicopter carriers) in the Mediterranean and (b) that, with the only carriers then at sea being deployed in the North Arabian Sea, the U.S. Navy was not -- contrary to doctrine -- forward-deployed. On May 4, after the U.S.'s successful targeted assassination of Osama bin Laden (which made use of the essential presence offshore of the USS Carl Vinson Carrier Strike Group, I congratulated Mr. Obama. Over the next two months, via public information I tracked the movement of America's newest supercarrier, the USS George H.W. Bush, and her CSG as they made their way from Norfolk into the Central Med.
At the same time, on May 31, I noted the slow assembly there of a NATO flotilla consisting of three European helicopter carriers and the French nuclear supercarrier Charles de Gaulle. By the time the Bush CSG arrived off Libya, they had been joined by the USS Bataan Amphibious Ready Group. That comprised three amphibious ships of various capabilities, helicopters, hovercraft, landing craft, and 2,000 Marines.
Suddenly, all the military preconditions set back in March by outgoing U.S. Secretary of Defense Robert Gates for decisive action in Libya had been fulfilled. On the morning of June 15, AT's headline read: "Good morning, Muammar!"
"Game on" seemed a real possibility. On June 21, I noted that President Obama, in responding to Congress' demand under the War Powers Resolution, had carefully left himself free to exercise a military option in Libya without seeking prior authorization from Capitol Hill.
This past week, the last legal requirement for action under the UN's new international norms of R2P fell into place. The International Criminal Courts issued international arrest warrants for Gaddafi and his two sons. With a UN Security Council resolution already in hand authorizing "all necessary means," the stage was now set for a Libyan replay of George H.W. Bush's invasion of Panama to arrest General Noriega on an American indictment.
On Thursday, however, word got out: President Obama has just voted "present."
The George H.W. Bush CSG is now in the North Arabian Sea. The Enterprise and her CSG have gone ashore to spawn in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. She's heading home. On the Enterprise's Facebook page, there's a picture of the two supercarriers passing each other in the Strait of Babel Mendev.
At the same time, the President announced that, rejecting the advice of all his generals, he'd ordered an accelerated pull-out from Afghanistan. Meanwhile, the U.S. just sustained its deadliest month in Iraq since 2008. With Mr. Obama at record lows in the poll numbers, the Fourth of July weekend loomed.
Well, the thought experiment is over. We have our answer.
Stay the course in the War with Jihad?
Leader of the Free World?
No wonder Muammar Gaddafi was out threatening Europe on Friday. The President of the United States just walked away from the best opportunity for taking him out. At the moment, Brother Leader is seeing off the greatest concentration of naval and military force in the Central Med since World War II.
Sic transit gloria americae. At least until January, 2013.
Goodnight, Mr. President. You flunked our little test.
And thanks to all the interested AT readers who -- sometimes incredulously -- shared this journey with me. You educated me with your comments. I look forward to continuing to walk this road with you.