Posts Tagged ‘kaplan

30
Mar
11

‘shrewd and sensible’

Fadi Tarapolsi holds up a pre-Gaddafi Libyan flag while standing vigil in front of the White House, March 28

Fred Kaplan (Slate): President Barack Obama’s speech on Libya Monday night was about as shrewd and sensible as any such address could have been.

Some of his critics hoped he would outline a grand strategy on the use of force for humanitarian principles. Some demanded that he go so far as to declare what actions he would or would not take, and why, in Syria, Bahrain, and other nations … still others urged him to spell out when the air war will stop, how we’ll exit, who will help the Libyan people rebuild their country after Qaddafi goes, and what we’ll do if he doesn’t go.

These are all interesting matters, but they evade the two main questions, which Obama confronted straight on. First, under the circumstances, did the United States really have any choice but to intervene militarily? Second, for all the initial hesitations and continuing misunderstandings, would the actions urged by his critics (on the left and right) have led to better results? For that matter, have any presidents of the last couple of decades dealt with similar crises more wisely?

The answers to all those questions: no.

…….For those who accuse Obama of “dithering,” it’s worth noting, as he did Monday night, that President Bill Clinton waited a year – and stood by while a real massacre took place – before taking similar action against Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic. If Obama had waited for the citizens of Benghazi to be slaughtered by the thousands, his critics would be fuming, and rightly so.

The main reason they’re fuming now anyway seems pretty clear. As New York Times columnist Gail Collins wrote of Mitt Romney’s opinion of Libya, he “supports the current mission, except for the part where it’s run by Barack Obama.”….

Full article here

10
Mar
11

‘why obama is taking his time deciding what to do about Libya’

Fred Kaplan (Slate): Is President Obama dithering over Libya? In the past week or so, a diverse array of commentators — Republican hawks, the usual neocons, and some normally gun-shy Democrats, including Sen. John Kerry — has called on Obama to take action now. Some have charged Obama with queasiness or lack of principles for not charging the ramparts from the get-go. But one can imagine several very good reasons for the president’s … let’s call it caution.

The Joint Chiefs of Staff and Secretary of Defense Robert Gates have been outspokenly leery of military options. Some scoff at their hesitation, and it is true that, for the past 40 years, U.S. military leaders have tended, more than many of their civilian bosses, to warn of war’s risks. The thing is, they often do know what they’re talking about.

Take the most popular proposal on the table, the imposition of a no-fly zone over at least parts of Libya, to prevent Moammar Qaddafi’s pilots from bombing or strafing the rebels fighting for his overthrow. As Gates and Adm. Mike Mullen, the JCS chairman, have said, a no-fly zone is no small matter. It is, for one thing, an act of war and therefore prompts the question: Do you really want to get into this? Do you want to get into another war in another Muslim country in the Middle East?

Leon Wieseltier recently wrote in the New Republic, “I do not see a Middle East rising up in anger at the prospect of American intervention.” Oh, really. Where did we last see that degree of blitheness?

Full article here




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