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Saturday, March 19, 2011

WaPo falsely accuses Dubya of "disdain," then proceeds to belittle our allies itself

Today's Washington Post contains a news story (i.e., not an op-ed) headlined "U.S. actions may speak louder than words," but as I write this, the same story is linked from the WaPo's home page under the headline "U.S. plays down its role in assault." In it, WaPo correspondents Mary Beth Sheridan and Scott Wilson solemnly assert:

As much as Obama has sought to strengthen the international organizations that the previous administration disdained, the United States remains essential to the operation in Libya, despite the president’s and [SecState Hilary] Clinton’s efforts to play down the American role.

The prefatory portion at the beginning of that sentence is an outrageous lie. George W. Bush can be fairly accused of a few things, but he never showed anything remotely approaching "disdain" for "international organizations."

In the rest of this piece, however, Sheridan and Wilson proceed to express a whole lot of what may politely be called skepticism, but far more accurately might be called "disdain," for the idea that America's NATO allies France and Britain are remotely capable of going it alone: "U.S. warships fired more than 110 Tomahawk missiles into Libyan territory to disable air-defense systems," we're told. "And the French and British warplanes that began to enforce the emerging no-fly zone operate under U.S. command." The whole point of the article is to argue that whatever the Obama Administration or our allies would like to pretend to the contrary, nothing meaningful can be done without the U.S. to enable it. The article ends with:

Beyond public opinion, the Pentagon is also wary about the resources that a prolonged military operation in Libya will require and whether its current goal of protecting civilians will expand to include Gaddafi’s removal. Obama has said the Libyan leader “must leave.”

But for now, the U.S. military is in charge of the intervention in Libya.

International military forces are operating under the command of Gen. Carter F. Ham, head of the U.S. African Command. The Pentagon says command will be turned over to the coalition in coming days, although which country will lead it remains unclear.

Disdainful? Or just dismissive and patronizing? I'm having trouble figuring out this "smart diplomacy." And is this just the WaPo being overly blunt, or are they actually mirroring sentiments from their pals in the Obama Administration?

That the Post's conclusion is probably right, and that the Obama Administration isn't fooling anyone, is a different issue. I personally think that by being coy, Obama is putting British and French warriors' lives, and certainly the lives of hundreds of thousands of Libyans, unnecessarily at risk. Which are Kadafi's officers likely to hold out longer against: The British and French acting with only uncertain and indirect American support, or an overtly American-led coalition that also includes the British and French as well?

If this is to be done, then 'twould be well that it be done swiftly and unsubtly. But that would require an American president who believes in American exceptionalism and who is capable of actually leading. And that, alas, we no longer have.

Posted by Beldar at 10:14 PM in Current Affairs, Global War on Terror, Obama, Politics (2011) | Permalink


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(1) Gregory Koster made the following comment | Mar 20, 2011 2:05:48 AM | Permalink

Dera Mr. Dyer: Nope, the POST is justified in its own myopic vision. In its eyes, Geo. W. was not just disdainful, but contemptuous of international organizations, i.e. the UN. Proof? He nominated that cowboy John Bolton as UN Ambassador, didn't he? That cowboy couldn't even get confirmed (because the Democratic minority wouldn't allow his name to come up to a vote, and the GOP majority was too dam comfortable to mount an LBJ-style assault on a filibuster), which is ipso facto proof of Geo. W's contempt. The rest of us see Bolton's appointment as one of Geo.W's better appointments, along with Alito and Roberts. It's just that sort of liberal bigotry from the press that keeps liberal pols in office, but weak. They believe the press's bunk. At that, this particular bit of bunk has a point: do you think that if the US went home, the Brits and Frenchies could do the job? I have considerable doubts. The Brits of course want Khadafy dead, if for no other reason than to keep the story about the story of the Lockerbie bomber's release quiet. But do they have the military sinews necessary? I doubt it. Nor do I see the French, with their sordid memories of Algeria, being wild to send boots.

The One does believe in American Exceptionalism: America is exceptionally bad. It doesn't even appreciate him enough to give him decent poll ratings. All racism, of course.

The One has sailed by his "midterm examinations" with the expected disastrous results. He has learned nothing. All the tuition we are paying to try to educate this ninny is down the drain, with trillions more in the whirlpool. Thank God Harvard didn't teach him what number comes after "trillion."

Sincerely yours,
Gregory Koster

(2) Beldar made the following comment | Mar 20, 2011 2:28:35 AM | Permalink

Bolton was such a breath of fresh air. Still is, I guess.

(3) James Joyner made the following comment | Mar 20, 2011 5:35:21 AM | Permalink

I'm pro-NATO by inclination and occupation but think the Post right here. The Brits and French have superb militaries in terms of professionalism and competency but they've allowed them to atrophy to the point where they can't project power. They have between them but a single aircraft carrier (France's but they're sharing). They would have a very difficult time doing this without American C4ISR.

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