Around one hundred Libyans in front of the White House celebrating Libyan rebels surging into the heart of Tripoli. They sang: ‘USA, USA, Kadhafi has gone today’ ‘Kadhafi left Tripoli’, ‘Libya is free’, and ‘Merci Sarkozy, Merci Sarkozy, thank you Obama, thank you Obama’.
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Steve Kornaci (Salon): …if this is, in fact, it for the Libyan strongman, it should do damage to a particularly obnoxious anti-Obama talking point from hawks on the right – the idea that he’s excessively deferential, naïve and just plain weak on the world stage and that his foreign policy can only lead to failure and humiliation.
The Libyan mission was supposed to be proof of this. “Leading from behind” is actually a phrase that an Obama advisor used in a New Yorker piece this spring to describe the administration’s approach to toppling Gadhafi. The idea was that the president was seeking a sensible balance by trying to boost the rebel cause while minimizing the U.S. footprint, but the right giddily trumpeted the phrase as proof that Obama was only too willing to let America get bullied around….
…. That it (the end of Gadhafi) is now on the brink of being achieved five months after the implementation of the no fly zone would seem to suggest that, just maybe, there was actually some wisdom to “leading from behind.” At the very least, it exposes the attacks of Krauthammer, Romney and others for what they were: overheated efforts to reinforce the Obama-as-Carter caricature they’ve been pushing since the start of his presidency. Nor is it the first time Obama has defied this caricature: Remember when our “weak” and “naïve” president announced that Osama bin Laden – the man who had eluded George W. Bush for nearly eight years – had been killed?
It’s worth repeating that Gadhafi’s fall hardly would hardly guarantee that history will smile on Obama’s handling of Libya. What would come next for the country is an open question, and the possibility that the void created by Gadhafi’s departure will be filled by violence and chaos is all too real. There are plenty of people on both the right and the left who have insisted all along the U.S. had no business intervening, and the latest developments do not necessarily prove them wrong.
But they seem to be a blow to the right-wing hawks who still dominate the GOP’s foreign policy discourse. Not for the first time, they’ve spent months the past few months crowing that Obama was too incompetent to achieve a goal that he and they shared. But suddenly that goal is on the verge of being realized.