Free Markets, Free People

The leaderless presidency

Anne-Marie Slaughter has a piece entitled “Fiddling While Libya Burns” in the NYT.  She opens with this:

PRESIDENT Obama says the noose is tightening around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In fact, it is tightening around the Libyan rebels, as Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns. The United States and Europe are temporizing on a no-flight zone while the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council and now the Arab League have all called on the United Nations Security Council to authorize one. Opponents of a no-flight zone have put forth five main arguments, none of which, on close examination, hold up.

The Libyan rebels aren’t particularly happy with the rest of the world at all.  As Gadhafi’s forces close in on Benghazi, the rebel commander has said the world has failed them.

Speaking of the world:

Foreign Ministers from the Group of Eight nations failed to agree yesterday on imposing a no-fly zone. In Paris, Foreign Minister Alain Juppe of France, which along with the U.K. has pressed for aggressive action against Qaddafi, said he couldn’t persuade Russia to agree to a no-fly zone as other allies, including Germany, raised objections to military intervention.

So since Russia can’t be persuaded and Germany raised objections, no go on the NFZ.  Notice who is not at all mentioned in that paragraph.  Oh, too busy filling out the NCAA brackets?  Got it.

"President Obama opened up with a plea for bracket participants to keep the people of Japan front of mind, saying, ‘One thing I wanted to make sure that viewers who are filling out their brackets — this is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it — but while you’re doing it, if you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.’

There that’s covered – anyone for golf?

Oh wait, Lybia Libya.  Morning Defense (from POLITICO) says:

Here’s your readout from Tuesday evening: "At today’s meeting, the President and his national security team reviewed the situation in Libya and options to increase pressure on Qadhafi. In particular, the conversation focused on efforts at the United Nations and potential UN Security Council actions, as well as ongoing consultations with Arab and European partners. The President instructed his team to continue to fully engage in the discussions at the United Nations, NATO and with partners and organizations in the region."

Well the great gab fest is underway, or at least planned to be under way.  Oh, what was it President Obama said on March 3rd?

With respect to our willingness to engage militarily, … I’ve instructed the Department of Defense … to examine a full range of options. I don’t want us hamstrung. … Going forward, we will continue to send a clear message: The violence must stop. Muammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.”

Uh huh.  So there is a reason for the rebels in Libya to at least feel a little let down, isn’t there.  There’s a reason they’re saying things like:

“These politicians are liars. They just talk and talk, but they do nothing.”

Yes sir, now there’s a group that obviously thinks much more highly of America since Obama took office.  Or:

Iman Bugaighis, a professor who has become a spokeswoman for the rebels, lost her composure as she spoke about the recent death of a friend’s son, who died in battle last week. Her friend’s other son, a doctor, was still missing. Western nations, she said, had “lost any credibility.”

“I am not crying out of weakness,” she said. “I’ll stay here until the end. Libyans are brave. We will stand for what we believe in. But we will never forget the people who stood with us and the people who betrayed us.”

Fear not Ms. Bugaighis, the UN is on the job:

The United Nations Security Council was discussing a resolution that would authorize a no-flight zone to protect civilians, but its prospects were uncertain at best, diplomats said.

I think an episode that best typifies what is going on in the Obama administration (and is being mirrored around the world) is to be found in the British comedy “Yes, Prime Minister”.  If this isn’t what we’re seeing, I don’t know what typifies it better (via Da Tech Guy).  Pay particular attention (around the 8 minute mark) to the “4 stage strategy”.  It is what is happening in spades:

 

 

In case you missed it, weren’t able to view the vid for whatever reason or just need a recap, here’s the 4 Stage Strategy:

Dick: “In stage 1 we say ‘Nothing is going to Happen’”

Sir Humphrey: “In stage 2 we say ‘Something may be going to happen but we should do nothing about it’”

Dick: “In stage 3 we say “maybe we should do something about it but there’s nothing we can do.’”

Sir Humphrey: “In stage 4 we say ‘Maybe there was something we could have done, but it’s too late now’”

Folks, there it is in a nutshell.  The Obama variation, aka the “Obama Doctrine” as outlined by Conn Carroll is this:

It assumes that big problems can be solved with big words while the messy details take care of themselves. It places far too much confidence in international entities, disregards for the importance of American independence, and fails to emphasize American exceptionalism.

And gets absolutely nothing accomplished.

Oh, about that golf game …

[ASIDE] This is not a plea for a No Fly Zone in Libya. It is an assessment of the way this administration has approached almost every crisis it has been faced with. Back to my point about this president trying to defer everything that requires any sort of difficult decision to others. This is just another in a long line of examples of that and his refusal to anything more than talk and give the impression of relevant action without any really being done.

~McQ

[ad] Empty ad slot (#1)!

44 Responses to The leaderless presidency

  • Well, having opened the can of worms – let me pick a choice one….
     
    “Muammar Gaddafi Barack Obama has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.”
     
    Oh, wait he IS leaving, he’s off to Rio!  Pah-tay, Pah-tay, Pah-tay, Pah-tay.

    • Fed up with a president “who can’t make his mind up” as Libyan rebels are on the brink of defeat, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton is looking to the exits.

      At the tail end of her mission to bolster the Libyan opposition, which has suffered days of losses to Col. Moammar Gadhafi’s forces, Clinton announced that she’s done with Obama after 2012 — even if he wins again.

      “Obviously, she’s not happy with dealing with a president who can’t decide if today is Tuesday or Wednesday, who can’t make his mind up,” a Clinton insider told The Daily. “She’s exhausted, tired.”

      I said a long time ago that I bet she wishes she had stayed in the Senate

  • We’ve already dismissed the notion of the “Peter Principle” because that would require that Obama was competent at some point.  So I guess we are left with the “pay grade” argument.  Since there is no further position for Obama to take his non-leadership, it’s pretty hard to say there is a higher pay grade out there.

    Barack Obama has lost legitimacy to lead

    This has the same problem as the “Peter Principle” .. at least with the “Birthers.”

  • The Dear Golfer - [I]f you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.’

    So… helping the Japanese ranks right up there with filling in NCAA brackets.  Nice.  Wonder how the Japanese feel about that?  “The American president asked his people to help us… in between betting on on college basketball games.”

    Smart diplomacy, indeed.

    The Dear GolferMuammar Gaddafi has lost legitimacy to lead, and he must leave.

    First of all, when did he ever have “legitimacy”?  Second, why did he lose it?  Was there some sort of election or court decision?  Third (and once again), I thought that The Annointed One (as he was then known) promised that he wasn’t going to meddle in the affairs of other countries like the eeeeevil Bush because that was just American arrogance and it made people everywhere hate us.  Finally, why didn’t Ahmahdinnahjacket lose HIS legitimacy a year or so ago?  What’s the difference?

    Iman Bugaighis, a professor who has become a spokeswoman for the rebels, lost her composure as she spoke about the recent death of a friend’s son, who died in battle last week. Her friend’s other son, a doctor, was still missing. Western nations, she said, had “lost any credibility.”

    Look I want Ghaddaffi gone as much as the next guy (boy, did we MISS an opportunity back in ’86), but with all due respect and condolences to Bugaighis, when did it become our responsibility to fight their revolution for them?  I guess she confused the idiot natterings of our media with our actual national policy (to the extent that we have one), or possibly thought that a demand from The Dear Golfer that Ghadaffi must go meant that The Dear Golfer was prepared to (shall we say?) help him find the door.

    • It’s not necessarily our responsibility – however when a US president says the things he said on the 3rd, he certainly implies “help is on the way”. It is that which is being denounced.

  • How sad is it that I keep thinking this clown might, you know, make some kind of decision, take some kind of action, look remotely Presidential.
     
    NCAA picks and a trip to Rio.
     
    He takes every opportunity that arises to double down on demonstrating lousy leadership.
     

    • Even the L A Times noticed …

      Taken individually — like Mrs. Obama notoriously wearing $600 tennis shoes to a food bank event — these acts can seem minor gaffes. Everyone expects a president to relax or exercise or stage elegant parties. But in the broader context of events nowadays such a blatant pattern of persistent insensitivity comes across as, at best, just plain stupid, or possibly brazenly indifferent. We’re here and you’re not.
      Not the best theme heading into a reelection season.
      With the impending nuclear meltdown, two wars and everything else going on, however, you’ll be relieved to know that President Obama did complete his NCAA basketball brackets on time. And he made tonight’s Democratic party fundraiser too.
      Obama thinks Kansas will win the championship.

  • “that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people”

    “POTENTIALLY”?
    In His Majesty’s universe you don’t even have to actually DO anything. Just thinking about it is enough.
    More of His Majesty’s legendary eloquence. 

    “These politicians are liars. They just talk and talk, but they do nothing.”

    Welcome to the real world, folks. I know it comes as a shock to these folks since they have no experience with anything but tyrants but yes, politicians are liars. This is what you have to look forward to if you can actually create a democracy. The good news is that you can say so openly.

     “the people who betrayed us”

    That’s right, lady, it’s our function in life to look after you. More third world whining and scapegoating. Suddenly we are not Zionist-loving imperialists who exploit lesser countries and canot be counted on for help of any kind. To misquote Churchill, “The Arab is always either at your throat or at your feet.”
    I’ll bet she is a UMF graduate.

    • “Potentially” is one of his sound educated throw away words.  For example, the other day the earthquake/tsunami in Japan was ‘potentially’ catastrophic.
       
      Ill wager he has other words he uses the same way, but I can’t stand to listen to him speak long enough to identify them.

  • All we really had to do was use our drones, as in Afghanistan, to pop Khaddafi’s jets, then harrass any heavy armor he was using,  The value of that would be far more than military, as it would show that we would not tolerate the regime in the future.  As well,it would require the rebels to fight their own war, we would put at risk no American lives, and we would exert leadership to our apparently helpless allies.  As it is now, no one is impressed by our lack of action, and as in Somalia during the Clinton administration, this fecklessness emboldens other tyrants to action we won’t like. 
    What a farce Obama is.

    • I see two things wrong with your proposal: 1.  As far as I know drones currently do not have air-to-air combat capability and would make easy pickings for the Libyan air force; and 2. Engaging ground targets (i.e. armor) is overt war, something neither the President nor the American people want right now.  Sorry, I just don’t think what you propose has any chance of happening.

  • From Politico …

    President Obama’s only event at the White House that isn’t closed to the press on Wednesday is a ceremony in which he’ll accept an award for being open to the press.

    All of the other 4 events on the schedule should probably be closed, but is his staff this “tone deaf” ?

  • One of the few things I remember from philosophy class was something about existentialism; not deciding is a decision. So maybe we have our first existentialist President.
    I don’t want to start an argument, but if it were my decision, I would have taken action employing US forces to attack Qadaffi’s air bases and interdict his sea lanes. You could call it a modern version of gun boat diplomacy without landing the Marines. We owe Qadaffi a score of swift kicks in the genitals for the Pan Am bombing and numerous other acts of international terror.
    That being said, the current problem with organizing some form of international support is the same problem that dates all the way back to 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria. Every time some bad actor acts up, there is a tendency to abjure the cudgel when that it what is called for. You can not have an international organization devoted to maintaining the peace unless it’s willing to take the sword out of the scabbard every once in a while. Failing support, it’s up to the leading nations of the world to do something. The point I’d like to highlight is that our reluctance to do something has no relation to how things did or will turn out in Iraq or Afghanistan. It’s an age old problem. No nation is willing to take on the responsibility when it’s not their ox getting gored.
    Regardless, I think one thing this does is highlight the fundamental weakness of Libya’s neighbors. Maybe they are so used to America being the cop on the beat that they’ve lost the will to look to their own interests. Think about this, both Egypt and Saudi Arabia have the largest, most modern air forces in the region. Excluding Israel of course. Egypt is right next door to Libya. Really, what would it take for Egypt and Saudi Arabia to act? And they both have 40 years of issues with Libya, so it’s not like they have no reason to take Qadaffi out.
    So here’s where I come down. If I were the President I would have sent Gates et al to the Middle East with a message to the Saudi’s and the Egyptians. “What help do you need to get the job done?”
     

    • There always is the possibility that this is the best Obama can do.
      Those of us, who tried to look under the hood of this man in 2008, know that this lack of decisions was part of his modus operandi in the Illinois legislature.  He voted “present” nearly 130 times as a state senator.

    • Steve C. – [T]he current problem with organizing some form of international support is the same problem that dates all the way back to 1931 when Japan invaded Manchuria. Every time some bad actor acts up, there is a tendency to abjure the cudgel when that it what is called for. You can not have an international organization devoted to maintaining the peace unless it’s willing to take the sword out of the scabbard every once in a while.

      In this case, add the question of “who, exactly, are we supporting and is it possible that they will be even worse than what we already have if they win” and you’ve got quite a recipe for paralysis.

      The left groused about “forcing democracy” on Iraq.  The alternatives are (A) overthrow the dictator and hope his replacements are better or (B) let the dictator slaughter people at will while we stand back and do nothing.

      We’ve tried (A) in Egypt and (B) is Libya.  Let’s see how they ultimately work out.  I’m guessing that “forcing democracy on people” will look like the smartest alternative by the time the dust settles in both places.

  • I don’t understand what you dense righties are complaining about. A wave of new thinking is sweeping the stagnant societies in the Middle East. Oh, wait, Libya is in Africa, isn’t it. I mean Africa. Wave of new thinking. Yeah.

    Anyway, what should Obama do? Their young people will sign up on Twitter, and create the anti tea party, and it’s all good. Anything Obama did that involved actual use of military force would be imperialistic, and the result would be the biggest foreign policy disaster in American history. Violence never settles anything. I decree it.

    Besides, Obama has perfectly creased pants. Plus a world-class temperament and intellect. Multiple New York Times writers have said so, and everyone here in the faculty lounge agrees.

    He leads by his mere presence. His christlike visage inspires us. His gentle, uplifted chin elevates us to new heights of admiration and confidence in ourselves. He potentially helps us to potentially become the greatest society potentially in American history. Potentially.

    He’s almost guaranteed to be re-elected. I’d put down a bet on that, if my ridiculously low salary as a professor at a public moose cow college allowed me to. And don’t you dare start up about how a narcissist capable, brilliant fellow like me with a very important advanced degree at an institute for honest-to-goodness advanced studies plus a book that is certainly not from a vanity press and sold about three dozen copies somehow can’t make any decent amount of money. Just don’t start. It’s simply an indication of how there’s no social justice in our society, and how terrible it is to have such a gap between rich and poor people.

  • The more I think about it, the more I like it.
    “Strong leadership” from a President has at least even odds of being a negative, that I can recall, historically.
    I want government to do less. Far less.
    Thus, why would I be upset about a President who isn’t “leading”?
    (The only negative, indeed, is in foreign policy – and when this particular President actually does things, they’re mostly negative there. So, again, inaction is preferable.)

  • And the end-game is pretty clear because…
    1. GaDaffy has a LOT of money to buy mercs
    2. Africa is full of mercs
    3. GaDaffy is ruthless
    4. The Russians will obstruct anything the West might try to do
    Sigivald, the problem is that power will flow into a vacuum.  Obama’s dithering HAS created several.
    “Soft power” is as effective as a flaccid erection.

    I think Hilary has had all she wants, based on what came out today.

  • ….options to increase pressure on Qadhafi”.
     
    I would suggest that the type of pressure that would be deserving of his attention would be delivered by a Hellfire missile. Surely we can spare an UAV for that purpose.
     
    BHO’s fecklessness is on display, and looking to the UN and NATO is equally disastrous for the Qadhafi’s oppostion (who are soon to be dead, thanks to the US’s ‘help is on the way’.

    • Yeppers.  That was my suggestion a few weeks ago.  But does anybody listen….NOOOOOoooooooooooo.
      It wasn’t like we didn’t know where he was.  Just follow the funny clothes…

  • Joe Biden told the story of how he said to Bush, “Mr. President, there’s nobody following!”

    I guess he can now say, “Mr. President, there’s nobody leading!”

  • Have you noticed that the talk from the White House on both the rebellions and the pirates sounds like something from Temporary Acting Deputy Undersecretary Crodfoller in a Retief novel?

    • Yes and no.  I’d expect more of 271d (“Expressions of grave concern with a hint that stronger action is being seriously considered”) from Crodfoller.  All I’m seeing from The Dear Golfer and his minions is a very strong 14a (“Transparent pretensions of engagement to mask utter incompetence”).

      ;-)

      I love those stories!

    • yes it does.  There is a totally retarded lefty who posts oft times here using the name Retief.  I swear he must be doing it “ironically”.

  • The part of this that burns my butt is that the rest of the World will hold this against the US but still love Obama as much if not more than ever.

  • President Obama opened up with a plea for bracket participants to keep the people of Japan front of mind, saying, ‘One thing I wanted to make sure that viewers who are filling out their brackets — this is a great tradition, we have fun every year doing it — but while you’re doing it, if you’re on your laptop, et cetera, go to usaid.gov and that’s going to list a whole range of charities where you can potentially contribute to help the people who have been devastated in Japan. I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.’

    >>>>  Oh, that Onion is hilarious……excuse me, what’s that you say?

    OH.

    Good lord. 

    Good.

    Lord.

    Imagine if Bush had said that?

    I’m trying to imagine who’s more pathetic:

    - The sorry excuse for a leader (and a man) who actually said that;
    - The cadre of sycophants who still line up to defend this guy at all costs;
    - Or ESPN, who actually still thinks that anyone gives a sh*t about this guy’s NCAA picks.

    • “I think that would be a great gesture as you’re filling out your brackets.’”

      Now that you mention it, I have a gesture for His Majesty that might be considered lese majeste.

  • I’m still waiting for someone to suggest what should be done.

    • vote him and his ilk out in 2012.

    • Uh, I’m gonna go with the AGW crowd on this and use their solution to AGW  – DO…….SOMETHING!
       
      ANYTHING FOR CHRISSAKES.
      Pretending, as he does,  that ‘doing nothing’ is actually doing something is crap.

  • So where has the recent modest growth in the economy come from? It is primarily due to massive amounts of federal government stimulus and a huge inventory swing, both of which will peter out this year. Only the wealthiest 10% of the population, whose stock portfolios have come roaring back, are doing well, but their spending is not enough to spur the economy or create much additional hiring.

    … after the last couple of days, even the rich are beginning to wonder if their portfolios aren’t headed for the cellar.

  • Its like a natural experiment designed to answer the question “What would the world be like without America?”
    Also, one of the good excuses for not helping the rebels was we did not know much about them. I bet we do now, or should know now. That excuse doesn’t fly anymore.

  • Saw this comment on theHIll.  Too good to not be true

    “You people are being unfair! It’s too early to judge the President’s core competence. The tournament has barely begun! At least wait until the Final Four.”

  • The UN will respond to Qaddaffi. T hey will pass a VERY STRONGLY WORDED RESOLUTION condeming his actions and will threaten him with an even stronger worded resolution if he continues to kill people.

  • Obama inherited the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan and he’s followed a relatively aggressive course there. But I’m convinced it’s only because Dems are terrified of being portrayed as the stereotypical Liberal wimps; Obama is doing it for domestic political purposes. Aside from that, I’m convinced there’s ZERO possibility that Obama will use military force….or will even take the international lead on coordinating military responses. Obama’s sole focus is on domestic policy; the expansion of government and creation of more entitlement programs. All Obama wants out of foreign policy is peace and quiet so he can focus on the creation of socialism in the US.

    • All Obama wants out of foreign policy is peace and quiet so he can focus on the creation of socialism in the US.

      That may indeed be what he wants. What he gets is a different story.

      There is a never ending supply of thuggish megalomaniacs who will rush into a power vacuum.

      Some of them will never be satisfied with running a town, a region, or even a country. Over time, if they see no coherent resistance to their thuggishness, they’ll convince themselves that they’re the next Saladin, Napolean, or Alexander. They’ll keep pushing (violently if necessary) until they encounter resistance sufficient to stop them.  

      The American left, including Obama, does not comprehend this. They literally don’t understand the open-ended nature of politically motivated violence. If they did, they wouldn’t be straining the fabric of society with their thuggish union supporters. 

      Peace and quiet is the historical exception. I’m afraid we’re about to be slapped in the face with that fact in the next few years.

  • France and the Arab League, a noted friend of the United States, want military actions taken. Great, let’s help them out. Let’s provide air support for a landing by a division of the French military and at least one regiment from each member of the Arab League. Once they have established a beach head, we’ll create air superiority for them to march to Tripoly.
    Otherwise, this all sounds to me like a case of let the US do a job no one else wants.
    Col. Q will be happy to sell petroleum after the fighting settles down.

    • This. I doubt you would need even one division to stop Qaddafi from advancing. I would also bet my bottom dollar Egypt has an airbase near the Libyan border that could at least cover Benghazi. Not to mention Benghazi itself.
      If you look at the map, there’s exactly one major highway along the coast. Block that and you could give the rebels a lot of breathing space. Technically, you try to land at some empty spot, and then you wouldn’t be the first to use weapons. UN could declare a “demilitarized zone” and the Arab/Frog troops would just be enforcing that.
      Nothing will happen of course. The UN’s big ideas have to have US to implement. France just lost some face if you ask me…they can’t even unilaterally project forced in the Med? Or maybe they think they can talk tough but get a free pass when its not allowed to do anything by the UN or NATO. But what is France’s plan when Qadaffi wins and they need the oil?

      • Also, its possible that France’s reaction was more for domestic politics. Many of their Arab origin citizens are outraged at Qadafi, so its a cheap way to buy some political support.

  • Obama’s campaign slogan was mesmerisingly simple and brimming with self-belief: “Yes we can.” His presidency, however, is turning out to be more about “no we won’t.” Even more worryingly, it seems to be very much about: “Maybe we can… do what, exactly?“ The world feels like a dangerous place when leaders are seen to lack certitude but the only thing President Obama seems decisive about is his indecision.

    • Yeah, the same author who implies that the Republican controlled House has stopped him from saving the world since he became President.
       
      I’m surprised some of these people can remember what day it is, they’re so fond of adjusting history.

  • What I am concerned about is the post-war development in Libya. I think the country will regard the US and other Western countries as guarantors of freedom and above all economic prosperity but if this prosperity is not achieved the Libyan people will find a perfect reason to accuse the Western world of promising something which is in fact impossible to obtain.