Libya,  Obama

Obama’s Libya policy, um, worked

Although I’m sure some people will manage to do so, I find it hard to disagree with what E.J. Dionne wrote in The Washington Post:

It’s remarkable how reluctant Obama’s opponents are to acknowledge that despite all the predictions that his policy of limited engagement could never work, it actually did.

Let it be said upfront that the rout of Gaddafi was engineered not by foreign powers but by a brave rebellion organized in Libya by its people.

But that is the point. The United States has no troops in Libya, which means our men and women in uniform do not find themselves at the center of — or responsible for — what will inevitably be a messy and possibly dangerous aftermath. Our forces did not suffer a single casualty. The military action by the West that was crucial to the rebels was a genuine coalition effort led by Britain and France. This was not a made-by-America revolution, and both we and the Middle East are better for that.

What NATO and its allies did do, as Karen DeYoung and Greg Miller reported in The Post, was to help the rebels “mount an aggressive ‘pincer’ strategy in recent weeks, providing intelligence, advice and stepped-up airstrikes that helped push Moammar Gaddafi’s forces toward collapse in Tripoli.”

Sounds like a successful policy to me.

Yet no good Obama deed goes unpunished. In the midst of the bracing news, Sens. John McCain and Lindsey Graham issued a statement saying, well, too bad that Obama got it wrong.

After heralding the rebels’ achievements, they could not resist adding this: “Americans can be proud of the role our country has played in helping to defeat Gaddafi, but we regret that this success was so long in coming due to the failure of the United States to employ the full weight of our airpower.”

Would heavier bombardment, or greater US involvement, really have moved things any faster? Was six months simply too long for some people in an era of expecting instant results?

Best of all, by playing a strictly supporting role in a popular rebellion, the US won genuine good will among Libyans. Contrast that with one result of Hugo Chavez’s staunch support for his friend and comrade Gaddafi.

Chavez told reporters Wednesday that his country’s embassy in Libya’s capital was “attacked and plundered.”

Chavez demanded respect and protection for his country’s ambassador and embassy staff, and condemned the “imperial insanity” that he said was behind the “destruction” of the North African nation, Venezuela’s state-run VTV reported.
On Tuesday he said Venezuela would recognize only a Libyan government led by Gadhafi.