It finally came. I am talking about the war speech of the US President. The speech was much expected, before the war itself began. The much maligned George Bush, with all his success and failure, never started or went to a war, without a solemn and deep address to “My fellow Americans”. There was nothing even remotely humble from Obama, but nonetheless it was finally addressed after almost one week of the onset of “coalition” bombing of Libya.
I won’t debate on the legality of the war, (and I will call it a war and not an intervention) or the morality of it, as it is already much discussed and dissected. Instead here are few counter points to the speech.
1. But when our interests and values are at stake, we have a responsibility to act. That’s what happened in Libya over the course of these last six weeks.
No direct or indirect American interests or values are at stake in Libya. It is not a military threat, it is in no way related to any anti-American activities or even for that matter anti Western activities for quite some time now. It directly dismantled its program of WMDs, allowed UN observers, and even slowly started to reform its age old economy to market liberalism, under the next generation of leaders.
2. Last month, Gadhafi’s grip of fear appeared to give way to the promise of freedom. In cities and towns across the country, Libyans took to the streets to claim their basic human rights.
The fact that how many Libyans are fighting for this revolution is a cause yet to be determined. From initial reports, and I mean even western reports, this revolt is not a mass movement, rather a bunch of “rag-tag” rebels, including leftists, Islamists, and the eastern tribal warlords, who didn’t quite get the importance during Gaddafi’s rule.
3. Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean.
Warships were already in the Mediterranean. Rather before the intervention, when Robert Gates was asked about “no-fly zone” he curtly negated it with saying, “let’s call a spade a spade, no-fly zone starts by bombing the air defence systems. The position of USA was distinctly anti-intervention initially.
4. We knew that if we wanted — if we waited one more day, Benghazi, a city nearly the size of Charlotte, could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.
Apparently, he means Rwanda, Darfur didn’t stain the conscience of the World. Or he means Libya is more strategically important, and a direct threat to the West, when technically, Syria and Iran the same thing is happening , in Iran since 2008 fraud elections. And they are of more vital immediate danger to USA, Israel and West than Libya.
5. We struck regime forces approaching Benghazi to save that city and the people within it. We hit Gadhafi’s troops in neighboring Ajdabiya, allowing the opposition to drive them out. We hit Gadhafi’s air defenses, which paved the way for a no-fly zone. We targeted tanks and military assets that had been choking off towns and cities, and we cut off much of their source of supply. And tonight, I can report that we have stopped Gadhafi’s deadly advance.
The coalition forces bombed Tripoli, so this justification of “stopping Gaddafi’s advance” is utter prevarication. The coalition forces are not stopping Gaddafi’s forces anymore, rather they are actively helping the rebels to topple the Government. The same rebels who, according to their own admissions, have Al Qaeda fighters in their ranks. So apparently the US, UN, and EU are fighting alongside, Al Qaeda. Which is amazing.
6. In this effort, the United States has not acted alone. Instead, we have been joined by a strong and growing coalition.
If he could kindly provide the number of US forces of all capability and the number of other total forces! The first day when Bill Gortney, the army spokesperson was asked about who led the missile assault, he said he got the support of a British submarine. When pressed more he said the rest were all US. Lets face it, there is NO country in the present coalition who can actively, dominatingly assert their military presence other than the US. During the Balkan crises, also, EU wanted to do a lot of benevolent thing, but after years of bickering and infighting, it took US to bomb the Serbs .
7. NATO, has taken command of the enforcement of the arms embargo and the no-fly zone. Last night.
The USA gives command to NATO, which is led by the USA. The nominal head of operations is a 3 star Canadian general, who is in turn under US Chief of staff Africa command.
8. 40 years of tyranny has left Libya fractured and without strong civil institutions.
Libya has the highest GDP in Africa, highest distribution of wealth, highest social security, and lowest infant mortality rate. Fact. Statistics.
9. The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security.
Writ of the Security Council, rather, with 65% vote. General assembly was not consulted.
10. One young Libyan who came to his aid said, “We are your friends. We are so grateful to those men who are protecting the skies.”
The Afghan Mujahideens said that too. It is needed to distinguish who genuinely means friendship, and who comes just to take advantage. Unfortunately, the World have too many examples of historical blunders…
That’s more or less the important points. Rest all hackneyed, overused “freedom and light” statement. Only this time they look clichéd, unlike President Bush in Afghanistan, or Iraq. No statement about tentative time, no statement about number of deployment, no statement of future contingency plans nothing. No clear justification of the threat quotient either. Not a mention of Iran, Syria, and ongoing Ivory Coast, where the largest mass killing is going on now, without any media glare. None at all. Over all one of the most half hearted attempt to address hurriedly the questioning World on this hypocritical sudden bout of conscience.
Time will speak whether Obama sided with the right or wrong side of history, whether he supported genuine rebels seeking for democracy, or paved the way for the middle east to be a giant Talibanistan. But for now, he has lost both his right and credibility to criticize the Republicans for their interventionist adventurism. The questions he raised during his election campaigns will haunt him through the rest of his presidency, and probably through the rest of his life.