Obama’s Libya Decision Draws Fire From Both Sides
Ono argument you haven’t heard (so far) is that President Barack Obama made the decision to take U.S. military action against Libya for domestic political reasons. And for good reasons: the decision has raised howls from all over the political spectrum — and from the Arab League.
On the left. The Hill notes that filmmaker Michael Moore has ridiculed Obama on Twitter using some Charlie Sheen motifs:
Moore, a frequent critic of President Bush for launching the Iraq War, unleashed a string on tweets comparing the U.S. military’s mission in Libya to Iraq and Afghanistan, using a mantra coined by Charlie Sheen:
It’s only cause we’re defending the Libyan people from a tyrant! That’s why we bombed the Saudis last wk! Hahaha. Pentagon=comedy
And we always follow the French’s lead! Next thing you know, we’ll have free health care & free college! Yay war!
We’ve had a “no-fly zone” over Afghanistan for over 9 yrs. How’s that going? #WINNING !
Khadaffy must’ve planned 9/11! #excuses
Khadaffy must’ve had WMD! #excusesthatwork
Khadaffy must’ve threatened to kill somebody’s daddy! #daddywantedjeb
Moore also suggested that Obama should return the Nobel Peace Prize he won in 2009:
May I suggest a 50-mile evacuation zone around Obama’s Nobel Peace Prize? #returnspolicy
Some liberal Democrats contend question whether Obama’s action was constitutional — and Dennis Kucinich even raised the prospect of impeachment. The Politico:
A hard-core group of liberal House Democrats is questioning the constitutionality of U.S. missile strikes against Libya, with one lawmaker raising the prospect of impeachment during a Democratic Caucus conference call on Saturday.
Reps. Jerrold Nadler (N.Y.), Donna Edwards (Md.), Mike Capuano (Mass.), Dennis Kucinich (Ohio), Maxine Waters (Calif.), Rob Andrews (N.J.), Sheila Jackson Lee (Texas), Barbara Lee (Calif.) and Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton (D.C.) “all strongly raised objections to the constitutionality of the president’s actions” during that call, said two Democratic lawmakers who took part.
Kucinich, who wanted to bring impeachment articles against both former President George W. Bush and Vice President Dick Cheney over Iraq — only to be blocked by his own leadership — asked why the U.S. missile strikes aren’t impeachable offenses.
Kucinich also questioned why Democratic leaders didn’t object when President Barack Obama told them of his plan for American participation in enforcing the Libyan no-fly zone during a White House Situation Room meeting on Friday, sources told POLITICO.
And liberals fumed that Congress hadn’t been formally consulted before the attack and expressed concern that it would lead to a third U.S. war in the Muslim world.
While other Democratic lawmakers have publicly backed Obama — including House Minority Leader Nancy Pelosi (D-Calif.) and top members of the Armed Services, Foreign Affairs and Intelligence committees — the objections from a vocal group of anti-war Democrats on Capitol Hill could become a political problem for Obama, especially if “Operation Odyssey Dawn” fails to topple Libyan leader Muammar Qadhafi, leads to significant American casualties, or provokes a wider conflict in the troubled region of North Africa.
Meanwhile, Obama has started to face some criticism on the Republican right, where he’s accused of waiting to long before deciding. For instance, John McCain:
Republican Sen. John McCain of Arizona was critical of the president’s timetable for action in Libya, but said he is confident the American military will succeed.
“He (President Obama) waited too long, there is no doubt in my mind about it. But now, it is what it is,” McCain said in an interview on CNN’s “State of the Union” taped Friday. “We need now to support him and the efforts that our military are going to make. And I regret that it didn’t – we didn’t act much more quickly, and we could have.”
The ranking member of the Senate Armed Services Committee said if the United States had acted a couple weeks ago, before the United Nations issued a cease-fire, a no-fly zone “would probably have been enough” to prevent the situation in the African country from deteriorating.
href=”http://www.politico.com/blogs/politicolive/0311/Graham_Obama_treating_leadership_as_an_inconvenience.html”> political ally South Carolina Sen. Lindsey Graham echoed an emerging Republican and talk show theme: that Obama doesn’t really want to seem to lead.
Sen. Lindsey Graham (R-S.C.) says President Barack Obama should be more confident in his statements about wanting regime change in Libya.
Appearing on “Fox News Sunday,” Graham said that he’s concerned the president is acting as if “leading the free world is an inconvenience.”
“I’m very worried that we’re taking a back seat rather than a leadership role,” Graham said. “The president has caveatted this way too much. It’s almost like it’s a nuisance. This is a great opportunity to replace a tyrannical leader.
The Arab League is also upset, saying the bombings went beyond their call for a no fly zone:
“What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians.”
–AMR MOUSSA, head of the Arab League, doubling back on the group’s original support for the no-fly zone in Libya
Obama is thus caught in several delicate pincers. A tiny misstep could prove perilous and trigger consequences for him and the United States. But the administration clearly felt the consequences for not taking action would be worth more than the consideration international and domestic risks.
Likely to add fuel to the fire: Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Adm. Michael Mullen said that although the U.S. mission will be limited, there is no specific timetable — a response that is likely to increase fears that the United States may be falling into another long-term, Iraq style conflict:
On ABC’s “This Week,” host Christiane Amanpour asked Mullen whether the current situation could up in a 12-year no-fly zone with a strongman in power, similar to what happened in Iraq. “Well, again, I think circumstances drive where this will go in the future,” said Mullen. “I wouldn’t speculate in terms of length at this point in time.”
This ambiguity was underscored by former Joint Chiefs of Staff Chairman Gen. Richard Myers, a key player in the invasion of Iraq in 2003. On CNN’s “State of the Union,” he said that the administration needed to outline its long-term goals in Libya.
“My assumption would be that Admiral Mullen and the president and the secretary of state are working this issue very hard, but we haven’t heard that articulated,” he said.