Ian Swanson (The Hill): Obama stands tall after the demise of Libyan strongman Gadhafi
The death of Moammar Gadhafi represents another major foreign policy victory for President Obama, who backed a months-long air campaign in Libya while facing criticism from the left and the right.
Obama stared down congressional skeptics across the political spectrum … Through it all, Obama kept his resolve.
…. On Thursday he basked in the second greatest foreign policy triumph of his administration, after the successful operation this spring that killed Osama bin Laden. Gadhafi’s death comes less than a month after the U.S. drone strike killed al-Qaeda leader Anwar al-Awlaki in Yemen.
…. For the unwavering Obama, Thursday came the big payoff as Gadhafi’s hopes for returning to power ended in a field outside his hometown of Sirte.
…. Obama entered the Oval Office as a novice on the international stage, criticized for a naïve outlook on the world.
…. three years into his term, both the bin Laden and Libya events suggest Obama can be steely in making decisions about U.S. force, and in sticking with them.
Full article here
David Ignatius (Washington Post): …. Obama saw that a no-fly zone wouldn’t be enough and lobbied for tougher U.N. language authorizing “all necessary measures” to protect the Libyan people. But he opted for limited U.S. involvement, front-loaded in the first week, and under the protective cover of NATO and the Arab League.
Obama deliberately kept the U.S. in the background even when critics began howling for a show of American “leadership.” And most important, he was patient through last summer, rejecting the counsel of those who argued that he must escalate U.S. military intervention to break the stalemate or, alternatively, bail out.
…. Obama took a lot of shots along the way to Thursday’s symbolic end of the Libya campaign. But it seems fair to say that his vision of opposing Gaddafi through a broad, international coalition – in which other nations share the burden, for a change – worked out pretty well.
Full article here
Steve Benen: President Obama took an enormous risk by agreeing to intervene militarily in Libya. Military resources were stretched in Afghanistan and Iraq; U.S. military commanders were deeply skeptical; Pentagon chief Robert Gates urged the president not to act in Libya; and there was no great appetite among Americans for a third conflict in the Middle East. What’s more, there were all kinds of credible questions about whether this mission had a meaningful chance of success.
But it did succeed and the gamble paid off. Gadhafi and his regime are no more. There’s ample room for a fair debate about whether the mission was wise, but predictions of failure proved to be incorrect.
When it comes to American politics, the next question is what in the world Republicans are going to say about it … ABC’s report identified five different positions Romney has taken on the U.S. million in Libya this year, and as my friend Elon Green notes today, there’s actually a sixth: in his book, Romney accused Obama of appeasing Gadhafi. I’d imagine Romney would drop this attack now, but I suppose one never knows with that guy.
….As for “leading from behind,” it’s looking pretty good right about now.
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FT: The demise of Muammer Gaddafi will bolster Barack Obama’s reputation as a strong commander-in-chief, credentials that will make it difficult for Republican rivals to attack his national security credentials as the 2012 election campaign begins.
… Mitt Romney and Rick Perry, two of the leading candidates for the Republican presidential nomination, have largely avoided talking about national security because it is an issue where they can score few points against Mr Obama.
They cannot even use the unpopular wars in Iraq and Afghanistan as lightning rods, as the president is making good on his pledge to withdraw American troops from the former and wind down the latter.
Mark Landler (!) and David Leonhardt (New York Times): The final end to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s rule is the latest victory for a new American approach to war: few if any troops on the ground, the heavy use of air power, including drones, and, at least in the case of Libya, a reliance on allies.
Only a few months ago, the approach had few fans: not the hawks in Congress who called for boots on the ground, not the doves who demanded a pullout and not the many experts who warned of a quagmire. Most pointedly, critics mocked President Obama for “leading from behind”….
But the last six months have brought a string of successes. In May, American commandos killed Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. In August, Tripoli fell, and Colonel Qaddafi fled. In September, an American drone strike killed Anwar al-Awlaki, a top Qaeda operative and propagandist, in Yemen. And on Thursday, people were digesting images of the bloodied body of Colonel Qaddafi….
Full article here
Steve Benen: Sen. Marco Rubio appeared on Fox News this morning …. His first instinct wasn’t to thank American troops, but rather, to thank French troops.
…. In the mind of this rising Republican star, the American military that helped drive Gadhafi’s regime from power deserves no credit at all. Marco Rubio is comfortable crediting the French, but not American men and women in uniform.
Remember hearing about the “blame America first” crowd? Well, say hello to the “thank America last” crowd.
…. Republicans hate the president so much, they just can’t bring themselves to credit him for the success of the mission, or even thank American servicemen and women for their service in completing the mission.
….. When the fear of Obama getting some credit for success is stronger than the satisfaction that comes with Gadhafi’s demise, there’s a problem.
…. Update: McCain appeared on CNN this morning and said, “I think the [Obama] administration deserves credit, but I especially appreciate the leadership of the British and French in this in carrying out this success.” Shameless.
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