Some commentators love the Libya war; others hate it. But most agree that it’s profoundly unnatural that we were pushed into it by… France. Welcome to the post-American world. In the age we’re entering, most of the time, the choice will no longer be between humanitarian interventions controlled by the United States and humanitarian interventions where other nations take the lead. The choice will be between humanitarian interventions where other nations take the lead and no humanitarian interventions at all. – Peter Beinert
Pres. Obama is walking away from what Pres. Bill Clinton believed about the U.S. in foreign affairs. That we are the indispensable nation. In the year of the Arab Spring, that’s simply so ’90s.
This is what’s causing Republican heads to explode, with GOP presidential wannabes seeing this as their opening.
Rarely agreeing with Mr. Beinert, what he writes about today is the most important aspect of what’s going on over Libya, as Arab uprisings continue to spread and unwind.
He also has the most classic analysis of Gates since he uttered his own “on the fly” description of Obama’s war of choice in Libya.
I don’t know what it took to convince an obviously reluctant Robert Gates to permit American involvement in the Libyan no-fly zone, but it’s a reasonable bet that had Barack Obama not been able to promise that it would be a mostly European affair, Gates would now be a military analyst on Fox News. It’s not the 1990s anymore. The American public’s appetite for humanitarian war has always been meager. And now the American government’s capacity for waging it is meager, too.
Old school Republicans like Haley Barbour, Mitt Romney and to a lesser degree Newt Gingrich, as well as Sarah Palin, who simply doesn’t have the depth of foreign policy knowledge or study to do anything but parrot neoconservative ideology, are all caterwauling about Pres. Obama’s alleged lack of leadership. The problem with Newt’s fumbling analysis is that it reveals he’s absolutely paralyzed with fear at being humiliated in his quest for the Republican nomination, which seems baked into the plot. With Romney willing to say whatever it takes to nab the nomination this time around. The others simply refuse Obama’s premise.
Obama’s incoherence on Libya, especially Pres. Obama’s arrogant slight of Congress, is unquestionable. Sending Sec. Clinton out to do his job hardly puts to rest the argument that the women guided him into Libya, in fact it reinforces it. No doubt he’ll be center stage whenever this ill fated foreign policy misadventure concludes, taking credit, of course.
But Pres. Obama is attempting to transition the United States into a more humble foreign policy based on practicalities, not the least of which is our terrifying fiscal insolvency, even if Obama’s own mathematical solutions are as bad as Republican.
As impossibly scatterbrained as the Obama administration’s foreign policy is, looking at Republicans and their regurgitation of 20th century national security talking points that long outlived reality, is enough to scare anyone to death. Not only are they clueless about the emerging Arab world, but these fiscal numbskulls can’t even swallow that our means of making war can’t ever be again to deploy tens of thousands of troops. Modern warfare nimbleness hasn’t cracked their thick skulls yet.
But then Pres. Obama’s own stubbornness on Afghanistan is just as bad.
Beinert’s analysis of Europe is also noteworthy, as it’s the bookend change to what’s exploding in Arab nations. Part of it is due to Europe’s own experiences of war on their own soil, something America hasn’t faced. We still see bombs as flowers to people in countries we are invading to “save” for freedom, while European nations focus on the human carnage war making manifests.
Jeffersonianism has landed in Washington, which is why Obama’s taking such a hit politically.
Which leads us back to Beinert: Jeffersonians, to borrow Walter Russell Mead’s phrase, believe that preserving America’s economic and political solvency requires reining in American empire.
Ah, but countries have egos. The Republicans want to continue feeding ours, while Pres. Obama is trying to starve it.
If Pres. Obama wasn’t delivering confusion and chaos through his clumsy transition to America sharing the world’s stage with France and the rest of Europe, instead of making the case directly, which is a good one, the American people just might buy it.