Criticism of the U.S. role in some quarters is based on the illusion that overt U.S. threats, followed by military might on air, sea and land always work. Critics would even mock the notion that President Obama is able to think on his own, and act with care. For them, military intervention is such a given, such a standby in the American bag of tricks that anything else seems weak.
They fail to explain to us how calling Gaddafi a maniac and launching quick military action would save lives.
President Obama thankfully has held counsel, measured his response and kept the powder dry. Examine the reality:
The Obama administration has focused, as it must, on the safety of Americans in Libya. Moments after several hundred Americans – including diplomats from the U.S. embassy – left Tripoli by ferry and by airplane, the United States was freezing Libyan assets. Immediately, the administration started “ratcheting up” the pressure on Gaddafi, the Washington Post reported.
That sounds like a reasonable move, contrary to an editorial in the same newspaper, which complained about presidential inaction. The editorial page was rooting for immediate U.S. military action, the same editorial page that still fawns over the faulty, fraud-based Bush invasion of Iraq.
The U.S. image in the Middle East and elsewhere is improved somewhat; however, trust in America collapsed worldwide after the Bush administration set the precedent of preemptive war and lied about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq.
Unilateral U.S. action in Libya would be akin to what happens to local police when they respond to domestic disputes—both sides turn on the would-be peacemakers.
Neoconservatives venerate the mystical, vapid, Reaganesque Marlboro man image of American power. In 2011, concerted United Nations or regional action would be the preferred way to go in Libya, if it comes to that. President Obama, thankfully, doesn’t shoot from the hip.