So President Barack Obama, after a jaunt through South America and a week avoiding Congress, finally spoke to the nation on Monday night about why we’re in Libya. Did he give ample justification for U.S. involvement? Or did he set the table with enough rhetorical booby traps and trap doors to make assailing his position almost impossible from the opposition? Watch President Obama’s Libya speech and judge for yourself.
Since he’s been elected, the press has scrambled to get a handle on the “Obama Doctrine.” While it’s difficult to extrapolate a doctrine from this uncharacteristically short speech, maybe we learned a few things about where he’s headed.
When He Said “Yes WE Can,” He Meant It
President Obama is dead set against any military actions that don’t involve a coalition. Maybe this is why he didn’t go to Congress – because he knew hardheaded House Republicans wouldn’t approve it unless we took the lead. Instead, he constantly spun the value of having other nations involved in air attacks and the protection of refugees.
This is both strategic and downright practical.
The United States cannot afford any more adventures outside of our borders unless someone else is willing to split the check (his mention of the $30 billion we snatched from Muammar Gadaffi’s grotesquely massive bank account makes us wonder about reimbursements). And the coalition is there to accomplish one goal and one goal: stopping the slaughter of civilians. Anything beyond that and we split.
Obama Has Big Plans for the Middle East
Think about it: despite how it looks, this President finds the greatest of political gifts in the present Middle Eastern turmoil – and he’s making the most of it.
Since the 1970s, every President since Nixon has struggled to shape a coherent Middle East policy to no avail. We tried overthrowing “bad guys” and ended up with Iran. We then teamed up with the bad guys – and we got Egypt. And we’ve continued overlooking (even rationalizing) Israel’s human rights violations and simply gained more enemies in the process.
Yet, this revolution was the internal coffee pot that had been brewing for decades. The natives got restless (plus hungry and unemployed), said enough was enough and made their lifetime leaders bounce.
President Obama is perfectly happy assisting revolutions that are already in the making. To him, that’s a coalition. He won’t start none, but he’ll definitely be there to help finish it – and he’ll make sure it swings in our favor.
He is Running for President in Every Single Speech … From Now On
This wasn’t the typical solemn sit down at the Oval Office desk with flags and First Family photos posing in the background. This was at the National Defense University, standing up and before an audience of military brass.
Obama consistently dropped top themes for 2012, setting the agenda in a way that made it harder for the GOP to attack him. How many times in recent memory has a president mentioned the ‘taxpayer’ in a foreign policy speech? And he took bold, gangsta swipes at both Clinton and Bush, reminding us that a Bosnia coalition took a year, Iraq took five years, but Libya was done in 31 days.
And, oh yeah, did you catch the way he compared the size of Benghazi, Libya to Charlotte, North Carolina? Connecting foreign policy to the homeland was pure Jedi mind trick campaign jujitsu.
The Obama Doctrine Is Contradictory
President Obama claims he doesn’t want regime change – but, seriously: how realistic is that? Gaddafi will do whatever it takes to keep himself in power. Rest assured he will hunt down every rebel and their families once NATO stops bombing, executing everyone that stands in his way. Basically, Obama has committed the United States to regime change in Libya even if he won’t admit it. The only difference is that we won’t be the only ones dropping bombs over the next six months.
We Are All Safe … For Now
Whether it’s budgetary realities or philosophical conviction Barack Obama is not in the business of committing U.S. troops to any major military interventions. While he’s had no problem deepening the war in Afghanistan, he avoids low hanging fruit in Iran and Pakistan. He got involved in Libya only because it was a slam dunk case of everyone in the region looking for an excuse to take Gadaffi out.
Now comes the hard part. How will he take on the real responsibility of supporting regimes that come to power after these initial revolutions? That will be the rest test of the Obama Doctrine. But, can he stay in the fight long after the missiles, poll numbers and headlines have faded?
This article originally appeared in TheLoop21.com under the headline “Five Things We Learned About the Obama Doctrine Last Night.“