President Obama’s remarks on Libya mystified the world.
But I think I have found the key to understanding them: the president doesn’t believe in the exercise of American power. President Obama can swing gallantly into action when there is a natural disaster-Haiti-that requires humanitarian aid. But a mad dog dictator from another culture is another matter. He can’t quite take a stand against Gaddafi (the president was somewhat less reluctant to stand against Hosni Mubarak, but then Mubarak was an American ally).
Rich Richman seems to be going for a similar conclusion on the Commentary blog:
We have since learned a lot about Obama’s oratory, and its relation to reality. He was able to call forth visions of the seas receding; he caused people to faint during campaign appearances; he provided the lyric for a video in which Hollywood stars endlessly repeated a single sentence; he caused a columnist to rank one of the speeches on where it stood in Obama’s lifetime oeuvre. We learned that the key point was always the let-me-be-clear moment – and sure enough, there was one in the Libya statement.
The statement consisted of 14 paragraphs that mixed strong adjectives with weak verbs. The only action items were to ask his administration to prepare options; to send an undersecretary of state to talk to other nations; and to send his secretary of state to a meeting of the Human Rights Council next week. The let-me-be-clear moment came in the 13th paragraph:
So let me be clear. The change that is taking place across the region is being driven by the people of the region. This change doesn’t represent the work of the United States or any foreign power. It represents the aspiration of people who are seeking a better life.
The one thing he wanted to make clear was that we had nothing to do with the “change” – perhaps afraid the unnamed Libyan dictator might blame him for it. In the final paragraph, Obama conveyed a commitment to “continue to stand up for freedom, stand up for justice, and stand up for the dignity of all people.” You have to admit, he has a gift.
The U.K. Telegraph had a story with the headline indicating that Prime Minister David Cameron and President Obama were coordinating efforts to depose Gaddafi. I’ll believe it when I see it, I thought. Sure enough, I read the piece. See if you don’t agree with me that Mr. Cameron is the only of the two leaders willing to speak out against a monster.
The left has always distrusted American power and influence. That is why the president has apologized so frequently for past uses of American power. But now we are seeing what the world looks like when a president doesn’t believe in the use of American influence at a time when it could really make a difference.