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12:00AM

Esquire's Politics Blog: Obama's Libya Speech, Decoded

Okay, we're familiar with the Obama drill on Libya to date: 1) Write political checks with your mouth that you have no intention of cashing with your military. 2) Keep acting like it's no big thing to your presidency, because you're a busy leader, and let the French take this bit in their mouth for once. 3) When all the ducks (UN, NATO, Arab League) are lined up, commit only the minimum of cutting-edge military assets to make this work, emphasizing no boots on the ground and absolutely no sense of responsibility for the aftermath — besides the usual superpower tithing. So yeah, a responsibility to protect, just no responsibility to pay the Bush-Cheney standard of 90-percent of blood and treasure.

Now for the official sales pitch to the American people, line-by-line:

I want to begin by paying tribute to our men and women in uniform...

Translation: Although every president starts out every war address like this, I'm a Democrat, and so I especially need to do this.

Read the entire 3,500 word post at Esquire's The Politics Blog.


Reader Comments (9)

Good review. Yes, it droned after a point. Credit where do - its working out at this point. Could be me, but I swear I heard the low target comment; "We are not the world's policemen". Don’t think I heard the "War is bad" one though. So tired of being treated like an ignorant peasant by either party.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterRob Johnson

And the Carter Doctrine comes in near the end, "The United States will not be able to dictate the pace and scope of this change. Only the people of the region can do that." An indication of Obama's future activity, or rather inactivity.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterSteve Shuba

This speech was hopelessly cliche ridden, vacuous and vapid. I also am shocked that he delivered the speech in what appeared to be a lecture hall, standing behind a lectern. He should have been in the Oval Office or in front of Congress giving a proper Presidential address. This was Obama's chance to explain to the American people why we are spending blood and treasure against Libya and not elsewhere (Bahrain? Syria?) and why he avoided Congressional approval for the attack. He has done neither.

And now that this war has gone from a simple no-fly zone to full ground support of the rebels (why else do we need A-10s and AC-130s?), Obama has MUCH more explaining to do.

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Tabar

2 more things:
1: If Obama uses the phrases "some say/there are those who say" or "let me be clear" in one more speech, I am going to ram my head through my TV. These are rhetorical tricks that give him an opportunity to set up straw-men so he can knock them down (among other things). Using phrases like this indicate the weakness in his speech and the ideas behind it.
2: With the deployment of 2200 marines to the Libyan coast, how can we believe Obama when he says this is not going to have boots on the ground anymore? http://abclocal.go.com/wtvd/story?section=news/local&id=8039326

March 29, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterAndrew Tabar

Andrew, if you expected him to say "here's why we aren't bombing Bahrain and Syria" you were in for disappointment. His reasons are pretty clear from the speech: the relative scale of the expected killing, the clear national interest in maintaining the regime in Bahrain, and the broad coalition, including Arab countries, that supported action in Libya but would not do so in Syria or Bahrain.

As for not doing it in the oval office, I think one has to blame that on Bush 43. After the Iraq war, the image of a president justifying military action from the oval office is so tainted that I don't think it is going to be the automatic backdrop for a while.

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterTerence Smith

My thought/concern:

What does the President, the United States, NATO, the international community do -- in Libya and elsewhere -- if the opposition prevails and then begins to do attrocities/mass killings, etc., themselves, in the long and nasty civil wars/long periods of instability that may follow?

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill Cherry

In such circumstances as I describe above (due to our assistance, opposition prevails, leading to very nasty and protracted civil wars, etc.), is the United States et al. not now obligated to intervene to an even greater degree (formal occupation/ boots on the ground required) -- to deal with the chaos, instability and potentially even more-grave and more-catastrophic complications that we, in assisting the opposition, have created and, therefore, are responsibile for?

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterBill Cherry

Bill,
No, the Arab league should contribute nearly all the 160,500 troops (based on 6.5 million population) between 5-7 years during the reconstruction, or some combination of China/India/Russia/Turkey contributing. Typically, the US should contribute 10% like the Balkans in the '90s although in this case, I don't think that is necessary given all the US effort in the region. Search the a-z ruleset in the glossary. The trick is will they do it? Personally, I'd leave the consequence at the feet of other nations if the troops aren't provided.
Thanks.
Derek Bergquist

March 30, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterDerek Bergquist

Some trite observations...

No good deed goes unpunished.
and
The law of unintended consequences.

The good deed of taking down a bad actor, in this case Col. Momar, will lead to a different dynamic in the region. Yes it restates the obvious. The question is who gets left in charge and what are they going to do?

I do wish our presidents would just be straight forward in explaining this stuff. "He (insert name of tyrant, despot or whack job) was a bad guy (list reasons) so we took care of business."
Most folks would understand that as they are not stupid.

April 1, 2011 | Unregistered CommenterMark Fragale

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