The Pentagon says 114 Tomahawk cruise missiles have been launched from U.S. and British ships in the Mediterranean, hitting more than 20 Libyan targets along the Mediterranean coastline. Navy Vice Adm. William E. Gortney, director of the Pentagon’s Joint Staff, told reporters the Tomahawk cruise missiles were fired from one British submarine and a number of American destroyers and subs. He said the success of the mission was not immediately clear, adding that additional attacks would commence later. – Qaddafi’s Air Defenses ‘Severely Disabled’ Following Military Strikes
screen capture via Huffington Post
Never having fallen for what Ann Althouse writes about today, I don’t find it remotely surprising that it’s women who guided Pres. Obama to act in Libya. Some of you might remember this column. It’s not the first time women have channeled the masculine on foreign policy, because there has yet to be a convincing competing narrative created by any woman. Is it because on war and peace gender doesn’t apply? If anything, it’s Pres. Obama who has offered the feminine side of the equation so far.
Margaret Thatcher and Golda Meir showed how it was done, with Hillary Rodham Clinton, as well as Sarah Palin, the latest to take up that charge, though Clinton actually has power, while Palin offers pontifications from abroad.
In a Paris hotel room on Monday night, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton found herself juggling the inconsistencies of American foreign policy in a turbulent Middle East. She criticized the foreign minister of the United Arab Emirates for sending troops to quash protests in Bahrain even as she pressed him to send planes to intervene in Libya.
Only the day before, Mrs. Clinton — along with her boss, President Obama — was a skeptic on whether the United States should take military action in Libya. But that night, with Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces turning back the rebellion that threatened his rule, Mrs. Clinton changed course, forming an unlikely alliance with a handful of top administration aides who had been arguing for intervention.
[...] The shift in the administration’s position — from strong words against Libya to action — was forced largely by the events beyond its control: the crumbling of the uprising raised the prospect that Colonel Qaddafi would remain in power to kill “many thousands,” as Mr. Obama said at the White House on Friday.
The change became possible, though, only after Mrs. Clinton joined Samantha Power, a senior aide at the National Security Council, and Susan Rice, Mr. Obama’s ambassador to the United Nations, who had been pressing the case for military action, according to senior administration officials speaking only on condition of anonymity. Ms. Power is a former journalist and human rights advocate; Ms. Rice was an Africa adviser to President Clinton when the United States failed to intervene to stop the Rwanda genocide, which Mr. Clinton has called his biggest regret.
Now, the three women were pushing for American intervention to stop a looming humanitarian catastrophe in Libya. [...]
This is the same type of action that helped kick Hillary Rodham Clinton off the presidential path, regardless of the reality that Sen. Barack Obama had virtually the same voting record on matters of war and peace as Sen. Clinton, minus his ducking out on a measure on Iran where he couldn’t get away with voting “present,” which has been his problem the past few weeks as well.
As much as I wanted and applaud Pres. Obama for waiting for word from the Arab League and the UNSC, both of which finally came, I am astounded at the lack of consideration on who is going to pay for the military action Clinton, Rice and Power wanted, and Obama now backs.
Let me also ask a question no one seems to be asking: Where the hell are the Saudis and the Egyptians? The Saudis have a fierce fighting force, with Obama having completed the largest sale in U.S. history to them last fall, $60 billion, and we give Egypt $1.3 billion a year. So why is the U.S. so willing to foot the bill for a military action that isn’t in America’s vital interests no matter how you look at it?
Trying to salve the wounds of past mistakes doesn’t make what’s happening in Libya “genocide.” It’s a civil war citizens of Libya are waging against their leader, which however excruciating to watch isn’t any of our business.
While we’re at it and talking about vital interests, why aren’t we getting involved in what’s happening in Bahrain where the U.S. Navy’s 5th Fleet is stationed? (Good post on why Saudi Arabia’s involved in Bahrain.) Sec. Clinton has issued a warning to Iran.
U.S. Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton warned Iran on Saturday to stop meddling in Bahrain and other Arab states in the Persian Gulf, but also called on the kingdom’s leaders not to use force against anti-government protesters.
Clinton said the United States “has an abiding commitment to Gulf security” and that “a top priority is working together with our partners on our shared concerns about Iranian behavior in the region.”
“We share the view that Iran’s activities in the Gulf, including its efforts to advance its agenda in neighboring countries, undermines peace and stability,” she told reporters after an international conference on the crisis in Libya. At that meeting, she met with numerous Arab officials who complained that Iran was fomenting unrest Bahrain and elsewhere.
Bahrain’s Sunni minority monarchy is facing growing opposition from the Shiite-majority population and has called in security forces from neighboring Sunni states such as Saudi Arabia, Qatar and the United Arab Emirates to deal with escalating protests.
[...] The Gulf force underscores the deep worries about Bahrain’s stability among the region’s Sunni kings and sheiks. They fear any stumble by Bahrain’s leaders could embolden more challenges to their own regimes and possibly open room for Shiite heavyweight Iran to make political inroads.
The U.S., which counts Bahrain as a centerpiece of its Gulf military framework, has sent top envoys to meet with the embattled monarchy and has been criticized by Shiite opposition groups for not coming to their support.
And where the hell is Congress where Libya is concerned? Did we learn nothing from preemptive war in Iraq?
Once again, this time goaded by females, Pres. Obama is unleashing the winds of war without thinking through the exercise completely, even if cautious deliberation is where he began. It does, however, give more proof that if he was in the Senate at the same time as Clinton Obama would have very likely joined the other presidential hopefuls in wanting to oust Saddam Hussein.
Obama’s declaration was stunning:
“Left untouched,” Obama said, “we have every reason to believe Gadhafi would commit atrocities against his people.” – USA Today
That’s our military foreign policy standard? Hardly, because it sure as hell didn’t apply in Darfur.
Pres. Obama, after being correct to wait, is now sounding astoundingly hypocritical.
American politicians have proven their bankruptcy once again through talking about military intervention as the U.S. economy sputters, austerity talks continue, entitlements suggested for targeting, with the U.S. military budget and our policies never being included in the reality scenarios.
You cannot talk about cutting entitlements while sanctioning military action in the Arab world and not also demand the Saudis and Egyptian government step in to use their massive military might, which we’ve made possible.
As for the women who continue to lead like men, I’ve written about it many times before, so none of this surprises me at all. Perhaps that’s why a woman has never been elected president, because no female has ever offered an alternative vision for the world and what it would mean for America in terms of war and peace.
That Pres. Obama has gone from deliberative and waiting for Arab nations and the world to join in, while not demanding more in the war of financial participation, as he also shrugs off Congress, reveals anything but “change we can believe in.”
Instead it’s here we go again.
This column has been updated, bumped.
UPDATE 3: Pres. Obama has announced no ground troops will be sent to Libya. So, time to revisit Gen. Wesley Clark’s warning this past week, “Libya isn’t worth the risk.” Clark remembers words that then Pres. Clinton said at the time, with there being a huge difference, part of which I mentioned today:
In 1999, when we launched the NATO air campaign against Serbian ethnic cleansing in Kosovo, President Bill Clinton had to state publicly that he didn’t intend to use ground troops. He did so in an effort to limit the costs of an initiative that the public and Congress did not consider to be in our nation’s vital interest. The administration and I, as the NATO commander in Europe, were in a difficult position, and Serbian dictator Slobodan Milosevic knew it. But what Milosevic didn’t understand was that once we began the strikes — with NATO troops deployed in neighboring countries and the Dayton Peace Agreement to enforce in Bosnia — NATO couldn’t afford to lose. And the United States had a vital interest in NATO’s success, even if we had a less-than-vital interest in Kosovo.
[...] It is hard to stand by as innocent people are caught up in violence, but that’s what we did when civil wars in Africa killed several million and when fighting in Darfur killed hundreds of thousands…
UPDATE 2: Wikileaks reveals Anti-American extremists likely among those we’re going to undeclared war to protect.