Not surprisingly, the New York Times lead editorial today praised President Obama’s speech Monday night on Libya. The editorial claimed he made a “strong case” for America’s military intervention.
For the reasons I describe in more detail in my Front Page article today, Obama’s speech did little to dispel the fog surrounding his objectives and endgame. But I want to focus here on two themes the Times emphasized in its laudatory review of Obama’s speech.
First, the Times bought Obama’s argument that if we had not intervened in Libya other dictators would conclude that
violence is the best strategy to cling to power
Iran has long since reached that conclusion, bolstered by the Obama administration’s passivity while dissenters were being killed or beaten in the streets of Tehran and other cities. Syria’s dictator Bashar Assad, whom the Obama administration has tried to court as a potential ‘reformer,’ has drawn the same lesson from Obama’s passivity in the face of the Syrian regime’s slaughter of its own people.
Some dictators have also concluded from Qaddafi’s experience, in giving up his nuclear weapons program and finding himself under attack by the West, that they need nuclear weapons to deter such an attack against their own regimes. Perhaps the Times‘ editors should have more carefully considered this report about North Korea’s reaction to the Libyan intervention appearing in the Times on March 24th:
A North Korean statement that Libya’s dismantling of its nuclear weapons program had made it vulnerable to military intervention by the West is being seen by analysts as an ominous reinforcement of the North’s refusal to end its own nuclear program.
Second, the Times bought Obama’s argument that, while handing over command responsibility to NATO and allowing the war to be “run internationally,” the United States must continue to remain involved in the fight against Qaddafi.
The Times editors, like Obama himself last night, say that the looming humanitarian catastrophe in Benghazi we went into Libya to prevent has been successfully averted:
Mr. Obama could report encouraging early progress on the military and diplomatic fronts. Washington and its allies have crippled or destroyed Colonel Qaddafi’s anti-aircraft defenses, peeled his troops back from the city of Benghazi — saving potentially thousands of lives — and allowed rebel forces to retake the offensive.
Why, then, can’t we simply declare victory and withdraw?
The Times‘ answer:
To hold their ground and protect endangered civilians, let alone advance, the rebels will likely need air support for quite some time. Mr. Obama was right not to promise a swift end to the air campaign.
In other words, the New York Times accepts the unstated premise of the ‘Obama War’ – that the rebels’ fight against Qaddafi is our fight. Without actually coming out and saying so, the Obama administration is choosing sides in a civil war, which may go on for some time without toppling Qaddafi. Moreover, we are helping an opposition reportedly made up of troops who had fought against our own soldiers in Iraq and are aligned with al Qaeda.
When Barack Obama won the presidential election, the Times editors crowed that Obama’s victory represented
a national catharsis — a repudiation of a historically unpopular Republican president and his economic and foreign policies
Now the Times defends Obama’s war of choice in Libya, which has a shifting mission, no clear endgame and puts us into bed with an opposition that had send its forces to kill American soldiers not too long ago. The Times will do virtually anything to prop up their deliverer.
Joseph Klein is the author of a recent book entitled Lethal Engagement: Barack Hussein Obama, the United Nations and Radical Islam