How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP
National Security Council Senior Director Samantha Power led the drafting of PSD-10, the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities. (Getty Images)
August 29th, 2011
04:00 AM ET

How Gadhafi's fall vindicated Obama and RtoP

Editor's Note: Stewart Patrick is a Senior Fellow and the Director of the Program on International Institutions and Global Governance at the Council on Foreign Relations. He is the author of Weak Links: Fragile States, Global Threats, and International Security.

By Stewart Patrick, Foreign Affairs

The fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama. By setting overall strategy while allowing others to shoulder the burden of implementing it, the Obama administration achieved its short-term objective of stopping Gadhafi's atrocities and its long-term one of removing him from power. This was all done at a modest financial cost, with no U.S. troops on the ground, and zero U.S. casualties. Meanwhile, as the first unambiguous military enforcement of the Responsibility to Protect norm, Gadhafi's utter defeat seemingly put new wind in the sails of humanitarian intervention.

One must be careful, however, not to overdraw lessons from the Libyan experience. It was a unique case and is unlikely to be repeated.

For one, Libya had Gadhafi, a villain straight from central casting, who had managed to alienate nearly all UN member states, including his erstwhile Arab and African allies.

The timing was also perfect. As the UN, NATO, and United States debated intervention, leaders in the Middle East were still reeling from the Arab Spring. Acutely aware of the vulnerability of their own regimes, the members of the Arab League, Organization of the Islamic Conference, and Gulf Cooperation Council all endorsed the UN's declaration of a no-fly zone over Libya, including the use of "all necessary means" to prevent mass atrocities.

In addition, China and Russia, the two permanent members of the Security Council (UNSC) most averse to authorizing military intervention under Chapter VII of the UN Charter, had no special relationship with, or interests in, Libya. So, they had no reason to veto a collective action. Moreover, Libya is a small country, with a population of only 6.4 million, which is concentrated along a fairly narrow strip of land by the Mediterranean. Thus, the logistics of military intervention promised to be less daunting there than it would have in Sudan, for example, which is fifty percent larger, almost seven times as populous, and has hundreds of thousands soldiers under arms. And since Libya is situated on Europe's doorstep, NATO and the EU were more motivated to provide aerial power and political support for the mission, since regional instability and a wave of refugees would effect them. The country also possessed a credible, fairly cohesive, and increasingly capable opposition movement, which provided the ground force that casualty-averse Western governments would not. These rebels ultimately proved able to defeat Gadhafi's military machine.

Finally, Libya was an unambiguous case for applying the RtoP doctrine. To be sure, the atrocities Gadhafi orchestrated in Libya prior to the intervention pale in comparison to those committed during the course of other recent violent conflicts. In Sri Lanka, for example, the government killed thousands of civilians while finishing off the rebel Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam in 2009. And forces in the Democratic Republic of the Congo have raped tens - or perhaps hundreds - of thousands of women over the past decade to sow terror. Gadhafi's violent crackdown on this spring's protests and his explicit promise to "have no mercy and pity" on residents of Benghazi, the opposition stronghold, also left little ambiguity. As Secretary of State Hillary Clinton noted in March, "left unchecked, Gadhafi will commit unspeakable atrocities."

Read: Obama's Options in Damascus

Gadhafi's ouster may vindicate the RtoP idea, but the application of the norm will inevitably remain selective and highly contingent on the political context. The humanitarian imperative is a strong and growing global impulse, but statecraft is still subject to constraints of geopolitics, resources and political will.

What has been most striking in the Libyan case is the Obama administration's vocal leadership in seeking to consolidate RtoP as a vital global norm - a stark contrast to the lukewarm attitude of the Bush administration. Washington's embrace of RtoP is critical, because the United States is the only country with the power and the credibility to actually enforce it.

Lest one imagine that the Libyan case is a one-off, on August 4 the Obama administration released the Presidential Study Directive on Mass Atrocities (PSD-10). The directive defines the prevention of mass atrocities as both "a core national security interest and a core moral responsibility of the United States." PSD-10 is a groundbreaking document and represents a huge victory for National Security Council Senior Director Samantha Power, a leading administration hawk on Libya.

The PSD-10 recognizes a simple truth: The United States will inevitably confront atrocities that cannot be ignored. The directive expands the menu of policy options available in such cases, which should range from complete inaction to sending in the marines. This escalatory ladder is meant to encompass preventive diplomacy, economic and financial sanctions, arms embargoes, and ultimately coercive action.

Realist critics have bemoaned it as a blueprint for interventionism run amok, anticipating meddling in foreign conflicts on a grand Wilsonian scale. But an honest evaluation of the directive should be informed by the United States' previous experience with RtoP; given the country's sorry record in actually confronting mass atrocities - in the killing fields of Cambodia and the bloody hills of Rwanda, to name just two - the realist critique seems off base. Indeed, the far greater risk is that the directive will gather dust on a shelf, while the United States and the international community ignore the victims of atrocities.

Read: Libyan Nation Building After Gadhafi.

Ultimately, the fate of the PSD-10, and perhaps of the RtoP norm itself, will depend on the attitudes of future U.S. presidents and the American people. Will they be willing to devote resources, and potentially lives, to address the suffering of strangers? The question is, in part, a moral one: What obligations does the United States have to those living beyond its borders? It is also a strategic one: How does a policymaker weigh the potential benefits of an intervention (in terms of lives saved) against the costs to the United States (including in the lives of its own soldiers).

There is no easy answer to this question. In the late nineteenth century, Bismarck famously remarked that the entirety of the Balkans was not worth the bones of a single "Pomeranian grenadier." A century later, NATO dithered before summoning the will to intervene in Bosnia and Kosovo, and the United States pulled out of Somalia after the deaths of eighteen U.S. Army Rangers.

Now, two decades later, no senior official in the Obama administration nor member of Congress has issued a call for intervention in Somalia to assist the delivery of emergency food aid, as that country faces its worst famine in decades. Al Shabaab, a U.S. designated terrorist organization, controls the vast majority of drought-affected areas and is obstructing the delivery of foreign aid. Without assistance, 3.2 million Somalis will likely die. The United States' silence on Somalia contrasts starkly with its policy on Libya.

The United States will remain selective about humanitarian intervention, because it must balance the goal of preventing suffering with other interests and commitments, and because some conflicts, such as anarchic Somalia, are dauntingly complex and would impose unacceptable burdens on well-meaning intervenors.

As Obama has noted, however, that is no excuse for inaction everywhere. Although rigid criteria for involvement are unrealistic, the U.S policy on armed humanitarian intervention should be guided by several principles, which I first outlined in 2004 when I was on the State Department policy planning staff.

First, the United States should set the bar for intervention high. It should be limited to stopping or preventing egregious atrocities –situations in which governments or insurgents are targeting large numbers of civilians with genocide, systematic rape, mass murder, expulsion or other crimes against humanity. There are prudent reasons for this limitation. Sovereignty remains the stabilizing force of the world order - a barrier to global anarchy. In addition, U.S. capacities are finite. Without discipline, its resources could be quickly exhausted.

Second, armed intervention should be an option of last resort. Given the costs, risks, and the unpredictable consequences, it should be employed only when other measures fail or when the speed and scale of atrocities outpaces slower instruments. And then, the mission should be undertaken using means proportional to the conflict, and should be coupled with a realistic long-term political strategy to address the violence's root cause.

Third, multilateral interventions are vastly preferable to unilateral ones. They offer both increased legitimacy and the promise that others will share the load.

Finally, the United States should undertake armed humanitarian intervention only if its leaders are committed to marshaling and sustaining the domestic support required to stay the course even if the going gets rough. Absent enthusiastic public or congressional sentiment in favor of intervention, the president must be ready to lead on his own.

Read: How Iran Keeps Assad in Power in Syria.

When it came to authorizing and conducting the Libya intervention, the Obama administration checked all these boxes. It set the bar high; moved to military force after other expedients had failed; designed a military strategy with good prospects of success, using proportional means; and it forged a broad coalition, legitimated by the UN Security Council. Finally, Obama displayed the political courage to do what was right, sticking with the campaign even as U.S. public support flagged from lukewarm 43 percent in late March to a dangerously low 24 percent by July.

Libya has demonstrated the viability of a well-implemented RtoP intervention. Yet just because the doctrine has survived a significant test, one should not assume that the United States and its allies will apply it universally. As atrocities emerge in other contexts, the international community will need to cultivate and weigh other policy options against armed intervention, so it is not faced with stark choice of military action or inaction. The Obama administration's PSD-10 is a step in that direction.

The views expressed in this article are solely those of Stewart Patrick.

soundoff (417 Responses)
  1. Dead Man Blogging

    Come back in 5 or 10 years and show me what Libya has become. No rose-colored glasses, please. At this point, there is no precedent in the Arab world for a government overthrow, whether from inside or out, that results in a true democracy. Instead, we see the anarcy of Afghanistan, the puppet regime of Iraq, or the Islamic "Republic" of Iran. The Western world may say it's rid the world of a dictator, but the daily lives of the citizens of these countries are no better, and in some cases, they're worse. Instead of stable, relatively-contained dictatorships, we now have the possibility of Islamic troublemaker states like Iran, or breeding grounds for terrorists.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:45 pm | Reply
  2. MattQu

    This is the exact kind of article I've been looking for about Libya. It did a wonderful job of explaining some of the complexities when describing which country to help over another and breaking down foreign aid policies. Very well done.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:46 pm | Reply
  3. Jim S

    And noe we have spent another billion that we had to borrow from the far!

    August 29, 2011 at 12:47 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      I take it you wish this would have rather taken 10 years, and cost 1.5 trillion dollars and 5,000 American lives.

      Oh, that's right. So far.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:36 pm | Reply
  4. Steve

    It's about high time that CNN reflect on President Obamas successes. This mission is one of many that the media all but seems to haveover looked, and unfortunantly the President isn't one that toots his own horn. Let's see more of the same, as the right and the teatards are hammering him continuously and are seemingly clueless as to the good this man has done.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:49 pm | Reply
    • Tim in Kansas

      He has no successes to go on.

      Everyone else just looks at his failure since there is nothing else to gauge him on, sad thing is his little lemming followers are just as clueless. It's the worthless leading the extremely stupid and gullible right now.

      He spends a lot of time tooting his horn with his "I won" crap which just shows what a complete waste he truly is. he didn't win he was elected granted he had to lie a lot and pull some shennanigans to get there but that is how he always got elected. His first election came way of getting everyone else thrown off the ballot.

      August 29, 2011 at 12:56 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "teatards are hammering him continuously and are seemingly clueless" See Tim below . . .

      August 29, 2011 at 1:22 pm | Reply
      • Tim in Kansas

        It's pretty sae when someone(you) tried to insult the intelligence of another(me) and end up showing how smart you really aren't by making such a simple minded mistake. Go back to trying to hammer round pegs into square holes because this was a complete fail on your part.

        August 29, 2011 at 1:48 pm |
      • skarphace

        That was funny. You said 'see Tim below' and then he responded. Priceless.

        August 29, 2011 at 9:39 pm |
  5. Marlboro Man

    Obama's true believers are no different than any other blind zealots. Irrelevant, though – Black Jesus is finished next year.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:50 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Gee, I thought the Marlboro Man died of cancer long ago? All the crazies are out today. Nobody except conservatives thinks Obama is Jesus. He's a black lawyer from Chicago that we all voted in to get rid of Cheney and Bush. Did you sleep through the election? He's done a good job and will be easily re-elected.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:25 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      Once again, the only people I have ever seen refer to Obama as 'the Messiah' or 'Jesus' or 'our Savior' have been those from the far-right. I thought you guys didn't like him?

      August 29, 2011 at 9:42 pm | Reply
  6. HP777

    I'm sorry but how does all this reduce the debt problem we have?

    August 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      When you grow up, you will see how some days are spent doing one thing, and some spent on doing another. Grownups have many problems to concern us, and national security is not the same as debt. Go take your nap now.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:31 pm | Reply
      • Tim in Kansas

        Someday when you grow up you will learn it's often better to clean up your own backyard instead of just playing in someone elses. That person had a good point you just lack the ability to comprehend we had no business in Libya and it was basically nothing more than a wag the dog scenario which blew up in his face in the first place. Supposed to last a month. hahahahahahahaha Keep on riding obama **** it's good for laughs. When you grow up maybe someone will explain to you why it's bad to spend a billion dollars bombing some other country when the retarded leader hasn't been able to handle his business in this country.

        August 29, 2011 at 2:06 pm |
  7. bailoutsos

    "This was all done at a modest financial cost" --- Modest cost? So, if it is not costly, he// America needs to overthrow more. Maybe we can get a volume discount?

    August 29, 2011 at 12:53 pm | Reply
  8. jona

    Yeah.. It's BARELY over.. WMDs are up for grabs. NO idea who is going to run the country. Thousands dead. Sure.. the left will praise Obama for this even though he did basically nothing and paid ZERO attention to the aftermath.

    August 29, 2011 at 12:55 pm | Reply
  9. Bob

    The president made a big deal about not being in charge and letting NATO lead. Therefore it is unfair to claim that this is an Obama policy victory as much as a NATO victory.

    But in reality, this sixth month messy effort with an unclear end in my opinion weakened NATO and the US and cost many more lives over a shorter six week affair using greater airpower and only a few thousand NATO troops. When we
    talk about no US boots on the ground we really mean who cares how many Libyan lives are lost and how much grief and destruction as long as Mr. Obama cannot be blamed for US caualties. How cynical is that?

    August 29, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      'Cynical' would be if we said, well, it's going to happen with or without us and just stayed out. The people on the ground know that we were up there stopping Gadhafi from bombing them, and they will remember, and yeah, that's kinda cynical too. I'd rather make friends than enemies for my country.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      I have to agree with Buster here. Cynical would be if we said, 'well, the US has no security interest in Libya, so they can just take care of this themselves', knowing full well that Gadhafi would have slaughtered them by the tens of thousands.

      To the other extreme, cynical would have been if we said, 'who cares what the rebels want. We are America and we can go in and remove Gadafi ourselves without their help'.

      Either way would have been a big foreign policy blunder. Obama did the right thing by finding the middle ground between these two approaches.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:55 pm | Reply
  10. davey

    Soetoero had no choice after sitting out the Iranian protests of 2009.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:01 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      Did the Iranian opposition call on the US for help? Did the AL and the GC ask the UN to issue a mandate to NATO for military intervention? Did the UN pass said resolution without a veto from Russia, Germany, or China?

      The answer to all these questions is a resounding no. Therefore, you cannot compare the two situations in any way shape or form.

      August 29, 2011 at 9:59 pm | Reply
  11. forwardbias

    Europe gets Libyan oil as a trophy. Search Eni of Italy and Libya.. We got nothing but at-least we got to pay back for EU's sacrifice to the same in Iraq.. Hopefully the next one would be ours and EU would help the same way..

    August 29, 2011 at 1:04 pm | Reply
  12. LiberalNN

    If liberals topple a Middle Eastern country it's in the name of justice. If conservatives do it it's in the name of oil and evil. What hypocrites.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:05 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      Conservatives have consistently laid the blame for anything that has gone wrong on Obama but refused to give him a shred of credit for anything that has gone right. And yet Liberals are the hypocrites?

      August 29, 2011 at 10:03 pm | Reply
  13. JohnCBarclow

    Given that Obama is responsible for the overthrow of Kadhafi, he is also responsible for the policies of the "rebels." It will be interesting to see what those policies are. Forced burqas on women, girls kicked out of schools? We shall see.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:08 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Probably, because both sides are Muslims and the rebels are calling for a return to conservative values. But all we did was join with the UN to stop Gadhafi from bombing the rebels, so we're hardly responsible for their politics.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:28 pm | Reply
  14. experiencehe

    hillarious... this will be obama's "all major operations are overwith" deal. we don't even know who is in charge or what political and or religous ideology will take hold and we're saying good job mr. president? good GOD americans are so DUMBED DOWN!!! especially the left... OBAMANOS!!!

    August 29, 2011 at 1:15 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Aw, you and Gadhafi were buddies? All the Republicans turn out to have been closet Libya-simps all along. No wonder we couldn't defeat him ourselves.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:29 pm | Reply
  15. john

    There are Republicans who have been screaming for the President to make the first move to place US military troops in Libya. We can't afford the Defense Dept. to run up another bill worth $751,000,000.00 in penalties because they didn't return the units used to transport materials to soldiers. Yeah, $751 MILLION in fees that tax payers have to pay. The DoD says that American taxpayers have deep pockets, and it's only a billion dollars.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:21 pm | Reply
    • TWM

      Bold Lie; Repubs have not clamored for ground troops in Libya. We have no vested interest there. Obama helped hand this country over to radical muslims who will hate us more so than Ghaddfi did.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm | Reply
      • skarphace

        Wrong. McCain and other neocons were yelling quite loudly for the US to send in the military and topple Gadhafi with our own troops. Perhaps you had wool in your ears?

        August 29, 2011 at 10:06 pm |
  16. gpl2032

    The only thing the "Pretender" and chief accomplished is the introduction of extreme radical islam in Libya and Egypt..."his" victory rings hollow.....

    August 29, 2011 at 1:23 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      Oh, so now Obama will be to blame if terrorist groups take control not only of Libya but of Egypt as well? Ok, to be fair then, do you think Obama should get the credit if these two countries turn out to be stable democracies?

      Didn't think so. All the blame and none of the credit. That is the Republican mantra concerning Obama.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:09 pm | Reply
  17. d

    Barrack "Yo Mama" Obama dusts another creep...who's next?

    August 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Mitt Romney will be the next little dictator to end up lying on his back with his head ringing and a tooth gone.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:32 pm | Reply
  18. Gloria in NW

    Interesting how many people focused on the used of acronyms, grammar, etc. - anything to avoid acknowledging the content of an article giving President Obama credit for anything. And as usual the people calling him various derogatory names ("Obumble" and the like) reveal their racism. Rage all you want about the "race card." Your hate is visible for all to see.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      They're so mad they're using the n-word today. What will they do now? First Osama, now Gadhafi; they are lost without their terrorists!

      August 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • sharky

      LOL So calling names that are not even remotely racist are now racist? Good grief you people are nuts.

      So anyone that called Clinton Slick Willy, or called Bush Shrub they are racist took, going by your standards.

      August 29, 2011 at 5:31 pm | Reply
      • skarphace

        This from Matt: "Hussein Obama is just a dumb thug niiigger"

        Kind of refutes your 'not even remotely racist' claim, huh?

        Unfortunately, this is very mild compared to the racist comments you get from the Fox News blogs. I don't even go there anymore because it makes my blood pressure rise.

        August 29, 2011 at 10:14 pm |
  19. Don

    Republicans are war mongers and would rather flex our military muscle and declare war on everyone, thank goodness for this president.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:30 pm | Reply
    • Ernest

      And obama isn't doing the same?????

      August 29, 2011 at 1:37 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      Ernest, did you read the article?

      August 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
      • Ernest

        Repeating my post.... obama took this action supposedly because Ghadaffi was killing his own people... Aside from the WMD reason bush gave for invading Iraq did he not also say Hussein was killing his own people and isn't it true that Hussein was killing his own people... therefore if obama is justified in taking military action based on "he's killing his own people" wouldn't bush be justified also no matter how he got thto that point.... or if bush is wrong in going to war isn't obama also wrong...

        August 29, 2011 at 2:08 pm |
  20. Ernest

    obama took this action supposedly because Ghadaffi was killing his own people... Aside from the WMD reason bush gave for invading Iraq did he not also say Hussein was killing his own people and isn't it true that Hussein was killing his own people... therefore if obama is jsutified in taking military action based on "he's killing his own people" wouldn't bush be justified also no matter how he got thto that point.... or if bush is wrong in going to war isn't obama also wrong...

    August 29, 2011 at 1:35 pm | Reply
    • Homer

      Obama wars are ok, Bush's wars are not

      Hussein gassing the Kurds and slaughtering the southern Shiites after the Kuwait invasion is an "inconvenient truth" the Bush haters either dismiss or ignore.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:53 pm | Reply
    • skarphace

      Ok, I will rise to the bait (again - I have the day off).

      When Bush Jr. went into Iraq, the reason he gave was WMDs.

      When Obama went into Libya, the reason he gave was RtoP (Responsibility to Protect).

      If Bush had used the RtoP as a reason to intervene in Iraq at a time when Saddam was killing his own civilians (the Kurd thing was not during the Iraq War), then he would have been more justified. However, this is clearly not the case.

      Therefore, your effort to link the two situations is preposterous.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:22 pm | Reply
  21. marcia

    Nothing can vidicate Obama's appalling "leadership"! He came from nowhere and hopefully will return to nowhere

    August 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
  22. marcamp

    HOW could this be viewed as a victory for the President...we sent money to a foreign country, as well as manpower and equipment, to assist in the overthrow of a foreign government, to rebels that weren't even identified...this is not a victory..this is lunacy...while Libya was not always in our corner, they were not the largest threat to this country...we need the resources for our own people and our own economy...this was a war where congress was not even consulted...we may now have a government that is worst than what we overthrew...hello????? how about taking care of one's own first...

    August 29, 2011 at 1:38 pm | Reply
    • RU 4Real?

      "Libya was not always in our corner" They wanted us dead and were a haven for terrorists. They were one of our biggest enemies. Another Libya-lover.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:58 pm | Reply
  23. more obama lies

    so is obama going to take credit for this too and blame the economy on Irene, probably, because all obama knows how to do is be like the normal trash and cannot accept responsibility for anything, down with obama, make him fall and fail like the rest.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:39 pm | Reply
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      "down with obama, make him fall and fail like the rest." Gee, what a loyal American YOU are. Get out of my country.

      August 29, 2011 at 1:40 pm | Reply
      • Tim in Kansas

        They sound more loyal to this country than you do. Why don't you Get Out.

        August 29, 2011 at 1:45 pm |
    • Buster Bloodvessel

      I love my country, even when a clown like Dubya is propped up on Washington's chair. You, on the other hand, are willing to sell us out because your candidate didn't win and you don't like the man our country selected.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
      • Tim in Kansas

        Our country selected the worst choice. The one good thing is now Carter isn't the worst President because OhDummy beat him hands down.

        Go back to your own country, we have enough losers here with this retard in the whitehouse and his idiots following him.

        August 29, 2011 at 2:27 pm |
      • John

        Saying we have a President that is spending out of control, is telling the truth and loving your country. To pretend everything is find is not. Even the Russian papers are complaining about Michelle Obama's 10 million spending on vacations.

        August 29, 2011 at 2:58 pm |
    • skarphace

      I really can't imagine why you Tea Party folk are called traitors by the rest of the country. I guess you consider it patriotic to hope that our President fails. Pathetic.

      August 29, 2011 at 10:28 pm | Reply
  24. Henry Miller

    Obama had close to nothing to do with taking Gadhafi down. It was a NATO operation with the US standing around at the rear handing out ammo when NATO ran out (something that makes NATO look kinda paper-tigerish, by the way.)

    In this, as in the death of bin Laden, Obama's spin-meisters and sycophants are doing all the glory-grabbing than can when the fact of the matter is that, in both cases, the inspiration and planning was done by others while Obama stood there mumbling, "Yeah, I guess..." when asked about the plans. For anyone to claim that "The fall of Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi is a significant foreign policy triumph for U.S. President Barack Obama" is a lot like claiming US victory in WWII was a triumph for Harry Truman.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:42 pm | Reply
    • sharky

      It is kind making me wonder if what is being circulated about the whole OBL take down is true. What is being circulated is that Petreus made the call about OBL not Obama. Obama was hesitant, and Petreus said let's do it.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:11 pm | Reply
  25. Janice

    Things have not been turning out as the repubs and tea party hoped for. First in Egypt, no hostage crisis, and no bloody quagmire where U.S. troops were being killed. Now Libya, where the president's "lead from behind" strategy worked, no hostages, no troops killed. So what's the TP to do? Oh yeah manufacture something to bash Pres Obama on in this Arab Spring.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:46 pm | Reply
    • Homer

      So what do we have now, Janice?

      Egypt is anything but free, being run by the same military junta as before, performing virginity tests on female dissidents and generally suppressing opposition. The only real difference is Obama either gave or forgave them over 2 billion of our dollars.

      The Libyan war is an oil war for the Europeans where we are supporting a long-standing anti-Gaddafi fundamentalist opposition group with strong Al Qaeda ties. The country is in chaos and you sound like GWB. "Mission Accomplished"?? Oh, Please!

      August 29, 2011 at 2:09 pm | Reply
      • sharky

        It almost sounds as if Janice is really just saying, Mubarak is gone, we gave them money that should appease all, of course the actual hard part of it all is ignored.

        I mean it is like hey Qaddafi is gone, all is right with the world, again reality is ignored.

        It seems as if reality is truly ignored.

        August 29, 2011 at 3:09 pm |
    • Dead Man Blogging

      A couple of weeks back, there were a series of incursions into Israel from Gaza, where numerous Israeli citizens were killed. These insurgents crossed through areas controlled by Egypt, which has reduced its military patrols in the area, and generally moved closer to the Hamas factions of the Palestinians in Gaza. If the fragile peace between Israel and Egypt breaks down, Obama's "victory" in the Arab Spring could prove to be even more of a disaster than Jimmy Carter's abandonment of the Shah of Iran.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:29 pm | Reply
  26. dave

    Ok, let me try to summarize for you:
    the international community (mainly the US and western Europe) normally don't do much in preventing mass atrocities committed by dictators/despots. Gadhafi was like the perfect opportunity for the west to score some PR points since Gadhafi is the loner that everyone loves to hate and it was a piece of cake to get rid of him. Just spend some money on bombs and send them back to stone age.
    I'm trying to think what message this sends to the other dictators. I guess what this means is never be a loner, band together and make friends, especially with China & Russia

    August 29, 2011 at 1:49 pm | Reply
    • theWinner

      Good point.....kind of like the guy in Venezuala is doing.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:03 pm | Reply
    • sharky

      That is actually really good comprehensive thinking.

      August 29, 2011 at 3:05 pm | Reply
  27. Tim in Kansas

    Janice, you really are trying to say that the Republicans and TeaParty wants dead troops and all that turmoil?

    I take it you either lack an education or just decided it wasn't worth retaining.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:51 pm | Reply
  28. hammeredtoe

    President OBOMA has done not one item of good while president unless you consider making a monkey fool of himself while the ignorant country he is president over makes fools of themselves! That is all the news fit to PRINT!

    August 29, 2011 at 1:54 pm | Reply
    • Billy Davis

      It really bothers you that previous President's bombed Libya and couldn't get Ghadafi to leave and further getting bin Laden. This POTUS has directed the end of 2 very menacing terrorist and the anti-American in you is really upset.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:25 pm | Reply
  29. Caro

    President Obama did not double the debt in three years. The Bush administration did not include the costs of the wars in the national debt. When Obama became President, the administration started including those costs in the national debt and naturally, the national debt increased.

    August 29, 2011 at 1:56 pm | Reply
    • John

      He doubled the deficit. Go to treasury dot gov. That is the money we are short every year. Bush 600 Billion, Obama 1.25 Trillion with 500 more billion to kick in with Obama Care. Stop being a sheep.

      August 29, 2011 at 2:55 pm | Reply
      • hammeredtoe

        look, u got pleny of black sheep in this room that keep on praising the anointed on just because he is the color sheep that they are! They are all alike! You cannot tell a black sheep to badmouth another black sheep whether he is a murderer, pimp, or wears his pantz down below his knees with his a-ss hanging out! All black sheep are SAINTS!

        August 29, 2011 at 5:09 pm |
  30. john

    let me see , a billion dollar plus price tag for vindication. And we don't have him yet. and the country will need another 40 billion to re-build. And , Islam will own that place in 2 years. And , if we turned our back there is not many lybians who wouldn't stick a knife in it. And , there will be cival war for years to come. And , now we are going to have to help Syria and that my friends is a horse of a different color. That is a multi trillion dollar , 10 to 12 year party to go to , where there will be many casualties on both sides. Iran and russia will load them up with all the weapons they need. It will be an excellent excuse to take pot shots at Isreal as well. There is no end to this

    August 29, 2011 at 2:00 pm | Reply
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