27 February 2011

Hitchens damns Obama's impotence

Writing in Slate, Christopher Hitchens shares my disappointment at Obama's complete failure to show any kind of leadership on Libya.

He writes:

it became the turn of Muammar Qaddafi—an all-round stinking nuisance and moreover a long-term enemy—and the dithering began all over again. Until Wednesday Feb. 23, when the president made a few anodyne remarks that condemned "violence" in general but failed to cite Qaddafi in particular—every important statesman and stateswoman in the world had been heard from, with the exception of Obama. And his silence was hardly worth breaking.

Meanwhile as I have already said, Hugo Chavez and Fidel Castro have placed themselves with Gaddafi.  China and Russia's authoritarian leaders have naturally sat on the fence, hoping their own people don't get any bright ideas or that anyone looks in their own blood splattered back yards.  Obama acts similarly.

It is an outrageous withdrawal from world affairs, one that would put no pressure at all on Russia or China to relent on a resolution at the UN Security Council.  Yes, in Egypt it was difficult for the US to be at the forefront in a revolution that deposed an erstwhile ally, when it both feared the instability but welcomed the call for freedom and democracy. Yet, with Libya it should have been different.

Hitchens continues pointing out the bravery of those without the world's most potent military on their side.

By the time of Obama's empty speech, even the notoriously lenient Arab League had suspended Libya's participation, and several of Qaddafi's senior diplomatic envoys had bravely defected. One of them, based in New York, had warned of the use of warplanes against civilians and called for a "no-fly zone." Others have pointed out the planes that are bringing fresh mercenaries to Qaddafi's side. In the Mediterranean, the United States maintains its Sixth Fleet, which could ground Qaddafi's air force without breaking a sweat. But wait! We have not yet heard from the Swiss admiralty, without whose input it would surely be imprudent to proceed.

Quite, it is so feeble as to be embarrassing.  Americans should be embarrassed and mortified at how far their country has fallen in international affairs.   It could take relatively painless steps and gain enormous goodwill and support in the region, and do more to generate friendship and pro-Western feeling than anything else could.   Though this is the same President cutting broadcasts by the Voice of America to China.

It is rather straightforward Mr President:

- Libya has long had a history of being an arch-enemy of the US and your allies;
- Gaddafi's history has been one of unashamedly shedding blood of innocents and supporting those who do so;
- The USA is, despite your inept efforts, still by far the world's largest economy and military superpower.

I even think Hillary Clinton would do more.

Dubya certainly would have.

1 comment:

Jeremy Harris said...

Gaddafi has been shelling civilians with artillery, so...

I've been asking people for a week why;

- the US embassy hasn't been evacuated, and while this was happening
- two carrier groups being marshalled, supported by UK, Canadian (and later Aus and NZ) destroyers and frigates - not to invade but turn the Navy, Air Force and Army of Libya into Swiss cheese using off shore shelling, cruise missles and 160 F-18s...

It doesn't make sense not to - you don't have to set a single marine or digger's foot on African soil...