British PM backs off of 'no fly zone' idea when Obama votes 'present'

Rick Moran
British Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion that the western powers establish a no-fly zone over Libya and arm the rebels have been rejected by President Obama. Thus, the absolute minimum response to the slaughter that might have been initiated by the west, was torpedoed by a president who prefers that the UN take the lead in dealing with the humanitarian disaster underway in Libya.

The Guardian:

Britain has backtracked from its belligerent military stance over Libya after the Obama administration publicly distanced itself from David Cameron's suggestion that Nato should establish a no-fly zone over the country and that rebel forces should be armed.As senior British military sources expressed concern that Downing Street appeared to be overlooking the dangers of being sucked into a long and potentially dangerous operation, the prime minister said Britain would go no further than contacting the rebel forces at this stage.

[...]

The change in rhetoric from Britain came as the US made clear it would adopt a more cautious approach and European diplomats expressed surprise at Cameron's rhetoric. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, giving evidence to the House foreign affairs committee , suggested military intervention by the US and other countries might be counter-productive.
She said the administration was aware that the Libyan opposition was anxious to be seen "as doing this by themselves on behalf of the Libyan people - that there not be outside intervention by any external force. We respect that."

General James Mattis, the commander of US Central Command, told a Senate hearing: "It would be a military operation. It wouldn't be just telling people not to fly airplanes."

One should not dismiss the risks of such actions - and others that are being bandied about - but the question isn't so much how much exposure western militaries would have if they intervened on the margins, but rather how many lives would it save? The rebels appear to be arming themselves from captured stocks in cities where anti-Gaddafi forces are in control. But they lack armor and most importantly, air cover. Denying the skies to Gaddafi's air force might be a difference maker down the road. Whether NATO has the gumption to enforce such a measure is up in the air at this point.

The noticeable lack of leadership by the president is obvious to all. Even WaPo's Ruth Marcus, a staunch liberal columnist, asks "Where's Waldo?" about the Obama White House. The American presidency has been allowed to drift into the background on both domestic and foreign policy matters, as decisive leadership in crisis after crisis fails to materialize.

Is this what a post-American world looks like? Let me outa here.


British Prime Minister David Cameron's suggestion that the western powers establish a no-fly zone over Libya and arm the rebels have been rejected by President Obama. Thus, the absolute minimum response to the slaughter that might have been initiated by the west, was torpedoed by a president who prefers that the UN take the lead in dealing with the humanitarian disaster underway in Libya.

The Guardian:

Britain has backtracked from its belligerent military stance over Libya after the Obama administration publicly distanced itself from David Cameron's suggestion that Nato should establish a no-fly zone over the country and that rebel forces should be armed.

As senior British military sources expressed concern that Downing Street appeared to be overlooking the dangers of being sucked into a long and potentially dangerous operation, the prime minister said Britain would go no further than contacting the rebel forces at this stage.

[...]

The change in rhetoric from Britain came as the US made clear it would adopt a more cautious approach and European diplomats expressed surprise at Cameron's rhetoric. Hillary Clinton, the US secretary of state, giving evidence to the House foreign affairs committee , suggested military intervention by the US and other countries might be counter-productive.

She said the administration was aware that the Libyan opposition was anxious to be seen "as doing this by themselves on behalf of the Libyan people - that there not be outside intervention by any external force. We respect that."

General James Mattis, the commander of US Central Command, told a Senate hearing: "It would be a military operation. It wouldn't be just telling people not to fly airplanes."

One should not dismiss the risks of such actions - and others that are being bandied about - but the question isn't so much how much exposure western militaries would have if they intervened on the margins, but rather how many lives would it save? The rebels appear to be arming themselves from captured stocks in cities where anti-Gaddafi forces are in control. But they lack armor and most importantly, air cover. Denying the skies to Gaddafi's air force might be a difference maker down the road. Whether NATO has the gumption to enforce such a measure is up in the air at this point.

The noticeable lack of leadership by the president is obvious to all. Even WaPo's Ruth Marcus, a staunch liberal columnist, asks "Where's Waldo?" about the Obama White House. The American presidency has been allowed to drift into the background on both domestic and foreign policy matters, as decisive leadership in crisis after crisis fails to materialize.

Is this what a post-American world looks like? Let me outa here.