Project 21 New Visions

Libya: The Beginning of Obama's Quagmire?


by Roscoe V. Brown, Jr.

 

America's involvement in Libya is not the fault of America's military leaders. Put the blame at the feet of President Barack Obama and his advisors.

Blame the White House for the bad planning, the last-minute decision to get in the game, bypassing Congress for approval to intervene and for embroiling our nation in Libya's civil war.

With his actions, Obama has pleased no one — especially his traditional base of support.

There's much discord within the liberal rank-and-file over what Obama is doing in Libya. Representative Dennis Kucinich (D-OH) has even gone so far as to say that Obama's Libyan actions, without congressional authority, "appear on its face to be an impeachable offense."

So much for loyalty and solidarity on the left!

Since March 19, 2011, NATO took over Libyan military operations, with American forces playing a supporting role. But when have our armed forces ever taken a backseat in any military operation anywhere? It seems that Obama — the supposed leader of the free world — demurred from the president's traditional role of quarterback to instead just be a cheerleader on the sidelines.

Over time, there will likely be increasing pressure for the U.S. to become more involved in the Libyan quagmire. Making this possibility more likely is that the British and French already have military "advisors" in Libya. Is this a precursor to American advisors? Is it a slippery slope to the eventual introduction of "boots on the ground" combat troops from the United States and other NATO allies?

During the Civil War, Union General William Tecumseh Sherman famously said "War is Hell." With that in mind, President Obama and his advisors should have first formulated a brilliant strategy for what to do in Libya before they ordered our forces in along with planning a great exit strategy.

This should have been a no-brainer, since it is something Obama and his ilk repeatedly castigated his predecessor for with regard to Iraq.

No such luck. Instead, it would appear that Obama threw something together to appease European allies and the hectoring media that can be called "shooting from the hip." It seems he sought a way that might be easy and safe, but — if he's not very careful — Obama could lead our forces into a train wreck.

Furthermore, Libya is a commitment our nation can hardly afford in both dollars and the safety of our forces when one factors in our current commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan.

There there's a legal angle to consider. Our Libyan actions have passed the 60-day deadline of the War Powers Act. Whether one agrees with the Act or not, Obama is now violating it by passing the deadline without obtaining congressional approval.

What a difference from the time when Obama said a president "does not have power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize a military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation." Then again, he wasn't the president at that time.

It appears clear that President Obama had no intention of getting involved in Libya in the first place. When the Libyan rebels were on the brink of being destroyed by Muammar Gaddafi's loyalist forces, however, he likely felt pressured and responded half-heartedly. But it's not a video game. Lives are at risk.

Our nation's honor, pride and reputation are on the line whenever our military is deployed.

Obama has once again shown his weakness when it comes to foreign policy, and the result is a quagmire in the making.

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Roscoe V. Brown, Jr. is a member of the national advisory council of the Project 21 black leadership network. Comments may be sent to [email protected].

Published by the National Center for Public Policy Research. Reprints permitted provided source is credited. New Visions Commentaries reflect the views of their author, and not necessarily those of Project 21, other Project 21 members, or the National Center for Public Policy Research, its board or staff.


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