Argument: Obama first accused of deliberating too much over Libya
- Debate: US and NATO intervention in Libya - pro argument.
Timothy Egan. "In defense of "dithering.'" The New York Times. March 24, 2011: "Obama has settled into a groove of reflective dithering before making his decisions. For the most part, it has served him well.
Think back to … oh, all of one week ago. The mercenaries of Muammar el-Qaddafi were closing in for the slaughter of people trying to take a breath of the same Arab Spring air going around Tunisia and Egypt.
Had Obama done nothing, as the Dennis Kucinich fringe Democrats and the Ron Paul isolationist Republicans would have it, the blood of many civilians would be filling the streets of Benghazi. Don’t forget: the regime had promised to chase its own citizens into closets and butcher them.
Or, had Obama put U.S. troops on the ground, as the imperious former Bush “diplomat” John Bolton insisted, a humanitarian mission would now be seen as another superpower invasion of an oil-rich Arab nation.
In his deliberative fashion, Obama ultimately saved countless lives in the short term, and will allow the rebels in Libya to own their revolution in the long term, if they can push ahead — a big if, of course. In the meantime, the economic and diplomatic noose will tighten around Qaddafi and the people he pays to kill on his behalf.
What Obama wanted to avoid, as he discussed during that same Russert interview, was the “messianic certainty” that led President George W. Bush to start a disastrous, trillion-dollar occupation of Iraq. In putting together an international coalition, backed by a United Nations resolution and the Arab League — all in record time — Obama also pulled off a nice bit of statecraft. And, had he used another day to reach out to Congress, there would be much less criticism at home.
Still, Republicans can’t cope with a president who tries to think before he leaps. Mitt Romney, who wakes most mornings in a groggy scramble to find his principles, faults Obama for the nuance of his Libya policy. How dare the president see shades of gray instead of black and white!
Newt Gingrich first criticized Obama for not imposing a no-fly zone, but now hits him for imposing a no-fly zone. You read that right. “I would not have intervened,” Gingrich said a few days ago. This followed a statement, barely two weeks ago, where he said he would intervene “this evening.” And he now calls the air strikes over Libya the worst foreign policy blunder in his lifetime.
Overstatement and misjudgment are Gingrich’s stock in trade — two reasons why he’ll never be president. He can always be counted on to fulminate on demand, with consistency the only casualty; the subject doesn’t matter."