President Obama isn’t the only historical figure to emphasize audacity, as Max Boot notes today on Commentary:
“L’audace, l’audace, toujours l’audace!” To Napoleon and other great generals the willingness to be bold and audacious was the key to victory. Barack Obama is no Napoleon. He seems to believe that timidity is the key to success-that flip-flopping and triangulating can somehow convince our enemies to make nice. He is sorely mistaken, and it is our troops in Afghanistan and their allies who will pay the price for his unwillingness to back them all the way to victory.
As I noted below, Americans are weary of the war in Afghanistan. It is tempting to want to end it now that Osama bin Laden is dead. I’m too ambivalent (and not knowledgeable enough) to comment on the Afghan war. But I can tell a leader from a guy who mainly wants to be re-elected. Also, words matter, and President Obama did not outline a coherent policy for Afghanistan last night.
More than the audacity of hope, Obama often displays the audacity of willfulness. Rather than coming across as an audacious leader, President Obama came across as timid last night and as callow and willful in his initiation of the Libyan adventure. Liberal columnist Ruth Marcus had a column yesterday on Obama’s going into Libya against the reasoning of the Justice Department’s Office of Legal Counsel. Ms. Marcus admits that, if George Bush had done anything like that, Barack Obama “would be going beserk.”
I think Obama went to non-war in Libya because the Europeans wanted him to-he doesn’t believe that the United States should act unilaterally, but when the Europeans want us to be involved in hostilities, well, he can be persuaded. It is tempting to ask Republicans to withhold funds for the Libyan adventure, a stinging rebuke to the president’s childish arrogance.
But, as the Wall Street Journal notes, that is the kind of thing Democrats would do to the GOP. The U.S. would look weak in the Arab world, and we can’t afford that-especially now that we are leaving Afghanistan without completing the mission. Yes, it’s tempting. But as Joe Lieberman and Marco Rubio, two men who do lead, make clear in today’s Wall Street Journal, it would be wrong:
If the U.S. were to withdraw from operations against the regime in Tripoli, the coalition would quickly unravel. Gadhafi would emerge triumphant, even more dangerous and determined to seek his revenge through terrorism against the countries in NATO and the Arab League that tried and failed to overthrow him. U.S. withdrawal would also mean a bloodbath inside Libya, as Gadhafi unleashes unspeakable horrors against the Libyan people who sought their freedom. And it would have ripple effects across the Middle East: Pro-democracy movements from Iran to Syria would conclude that the U.S. had abandoned them, and dictators would be emboldened.