Obama and the Libya decision
Barack Obama finally has a war he can believe in. The intervention in Libya promises to conform just about perfectly to the president's world view. He hastened to declare in his Friday afternoon statement what it would not entail-- no US troops on the ground, and somebody else will lead it.
Now at first glance it might appear he is merely being cautious - limiting our exposure to minimize any unfortunate foreign or domestic fallout should the television images get unpleasant, but one cannot help but suspect that the motive is less to minimize the US role than it is to exalt that of the UN and other supra-national organizations, such as the Arab League, and all of the NGO camp followers that normally feed off such international coalitions.
Additionally, this action promises finally to use American military power in the kind of international relief and social service agency capacity Obama's internationalist foreign policy team would like it to be, its mission unsullied by grubby considerations of national interest. One observer has already compared it to the international intervention in Kosovo, intervention that delivered the Kosovars into the hands of UN and EU caretakers, despite their declaration of independence.
If this speculation is correct, why the long wait before instituting it? There were two good reasons for the delay. First, it obviously had to be international.Libya's friends in the world were likely to block an international effort if it looked like it was going to actually topple Gadhafi right away, but, they would be willing to go along once conditions in Libya promised a murkier outcome. and opportunities to profit and connive to diminish the US even further.
Even more significantly Obama's world view requires victims to be serviced, and not winners to be supported. As long as the Libyan rebels had a chance to prevail, they were of little value to a messianic narcissist bent on removing the "Incomplete" from his Nobel Peace Prize citation. Pitiful, battered, pleading Libyans huddled around Benghazi are the prerequisite for making this this intervention work politically. In just the same way Obama and Pelosi needed the image of sick, desperate, hard up Americans to make the case for ObamaCare, the Stimuli, and financial services "reform."
Of course the stylish left will love this intervention. From the Beatles and Bangladesh to the current Hollywood A List and Darfur, these kind of embattled enclaves are good for big money, both for the new client state and the President. If the Libyans can produce a telegenic "leader" with a good face, the sky is the limit.
War without victory, intervention that produces dependency, Americans shouldering the burdens but obscured in a fog of UN acronyms, a maze of rules of engagement and process that squeezes every last bit of spirit and motivation out of warriors, it may not be a strategy, but it sure as hell explains the motivation.