President Obama gave his “mission accomplished” speech last night. From his point of view, the mission is accomplished: he got all the right pieces of paper from the “international community.”

But the Obama Doctrine that emerged last night is different from previous U.S. foreign policy and has a high degree of incoherence: the U.S. military will intervene for purely humanitarian reasons, to stave off Bad Things on foreign soil. But we won’t do this everywhere. For example, if a foreign “leader” has been wise enough to retain his nuclear weapons he will be safer from our humanitarian intervention.  Colonel Gaddafi must rue the day he foolishly surrendered his nukes.

The speech set terrible precedents, according to presidential historian and former spokesman for the 9-11 Commission  Alvin S. Felzenberg on The Corner:

Obama set three bad precedents tonight. First, he has all but told Iran that he will take no action to prevent it from becoming a nuclear power, unless it takes to abusing its own people, and that the U.S. will not act unilaterally against the regime in Tehran. Second, he has for the first time in American history suggested that American troops will be put under a foreign command. (Given that all prior NATO military actions were led by an American command, he can, of course follow in this tradition. If he does, however, what will have been the point of tasking this mission off to NATO?) Third, Obama substituted the hope of “multinationalism” for the reality of the constitutional requirement that Congress lend its approval in some way to this military engagement on behalf of the people in whose name they serve. The “briefing” his administration gave Congress was anything but true “consultation.” Moreover, Obama gave other nations a greater say over where U.S. forces are engaged than he gave Congress.

Speaking as one who wanted a no-fly zone early and regards ridding the world of a madman who sponsors terror in the U.S.’s interest, I hate to say it, but I believe pure human vanity played a role in Obama’s belated intervention. Stanley Kurtz makes this point today in National Review:

As his speech tonight confirms, President Obama intervened in Libya to prevent a massacre in Benghazi. That is the long and short of it. Yes, he also hoped that his action would blunt Qaddafi’s counter-revolutionary stroke, thereby putting us “on the right side” of the emerging revolt in the Middle East (Hillary’s chief concern). Yet that was a secondary motive. Fundamentally, Obama was unwilling to go down in history as the man who allowed a massacre in Benghazi. He also wanted to set a precedent for future multilateral humanitarian interventions under United Nations auspices. Everything else follows from this core motive, which is represented within his administration by Samantha Power and Susan Rice, above all.

Indeed, Obama, the I President, said:

And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

So you see, he is better than all those other presidents, including Bill Clinton, target last night of an Obama jab regarding the timing of U.S. intervention in Kosovo. Love to have seen the secretary of state’s face at this moment!  He made a more blunt attack on U.S. policy in Iraq, conceding that, though we are “hopeful” about Iraq’s future, the cost was too high.

President Obama also said this:

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and values are.

This is the kind of moral imperialism the right is often accused of, isn’t it? The president also said that we are supporting the “aspirations” of the Libyan people. But we don’t yet know what, other than the worthy goal of toppling a tyrant, those aspirations might be. Several administration officials have said over the last few days that, while our vital interests aren’t involved in Libya, vital interests of our allies are. Translation: It’s okay to go to war over oil, as long as the United States isn’t using the oil. But, hey, if Europe wants the oil…  

There was another very telling moment at the end of the president’s speech. He described an American airman who was shot down and parachuted to the ground in Libya: “In a country whose leader has so often demonized the United States – in a region that has such a difficult history with our country – this American did not find enemies. Instead, he was met by people who embraced him. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies.”

 I had a horrible feeling that Obama thinks that this friendly reception for a U.S. airman was because of Obama. Last night was vanity on parade.