Five days ago, as the Libyan massacre began in earnest I asked "where is Obama," and "How is it that he can freely toss a U.S. ally like Egypt under the bus and yet has NO interest in changing regimes of U.S. enemies?"
At the time, I pointed out how Obama had made only one official statement on Libya compared to the pages of official statements on Egypt as he actively sought to remove Hosni Mubarak from office.
Well, Obama addressed the issue of Libya for only the second time on Wednesday and unlike his sometimes contradictory but often emphatic statements on Egypt, the tone of his statements on the situation in Libya were underwhelming to the point of irrelevancy. It's as if Obama were just voting "present" as he did so often in the Illinois state senate.
Nile Gardiner, writing for the U.K.'s Daily Telegraph sees Obama's weak response as "confused" and another "deer in the headlights" moment:
This is an historic moment. One of the most brutal, evil and anti-American tyrants of our time is facing a massive popular revolt that is threatening to finally remove him from power after more than four decades as absolute ruler of his country. It is not a time for fence-sitting or navel-gazing from the world’s only superpower. President Obama should be openly calling for Muammar Gaddafi to step aside immediately, and if he doesn’t, face complete international isolation – including comprehensive sanctions, travel bans, the freezing of bank accounts, and a halt to Western investment and trade.And if you think the Daily Telegraph doesn't carry much weight, here's the Thursday editorial in the Washington Post:
The Libyan people don’t need lofty neutrality from Washington. They do however need the president of the most powerful nation on earth to actively back their aspirations for freedom and democracy. And they certainly aren’t waiting for toothless statements from a divided UN Security Council or a morally bankrupt Human Rights Council.
President Obama is already being outflanked by Nicolas Sarkozy, who has taken a far tougher line on Libya than his US counterpart. It is hugely embarrassing when even the French are doing more to confront a murderous dictator than the traditional leader of the free world. Frankly, President Obama makes Jimmy Carter look like General MacArthur by comparison. The US administration needs to wake up from its slumber and start showing some real leadership on the world stage in place of its existing milquetoast foreign policy.
Why was President Obama last to speak up on Libya?It's pretty bad when the Washington Post and the FRENCH show more backbone than Obama. And this isn't the first time. Once again, Obama is on the WRONG SIDE of history. So much for his Nobel Peace Prize. What a disgrace!
Washington Post Editorial
ONCE AGAIN, an Arab dictator is employing criminal violence in a desperate effort to remain in power - and once again, the Obama administration has been slow to find its voice. This time, the tyrant is one of the Middle East's most evil men - Moammar Gaddafi, whose regime has staged spectacular terrorist attacks against Americans in addition to brutalizing its own people. Having apparently lost control of most of the country, Mr. Gaddafi has unleashed an orgy of bloodshed in the capital, Tripoli, using foreign mercenaries and aircraft to attack his own people.
Governments around the world have been condemning this appalling stance and the terrible slaughter it has caused. The European Union has agreed in principle to impose sanctions, and the Arab League has said Libya will be excluded from its meetings. British Prime Minister David Cameron, German Chancellor Angela Merkel and Italian Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi all condemned the regime's violence. Said French President Nicolas Sarkozy: "The continuing brutal and bloody crackdown against the Libyan civilian population is revolting. The international community cannot remain a spectator to these massive violations of human rights."
By late Wednesday only one major Western leader had failed to speak up on Libya: Barack Obama. Before then, the president's only comment during five days of mounting atrocities was a statement issued in his name by his press secretary late last Friday, which deplored violence that day in three countries: Yemen, Libya and Bahrain.
Mr. Obama appeared eager to make the point that the United States was not taking the lead in opposing Mr. Gaddafi's crimes. "It is imperative that the nations and the peoples of the world speak with one voice," he said. "That has been our focus." Shouldn't the president of the United States be first to oppose the depravities of a tyrant such as Mr. Gaddafi? Apparently this one doesn't think so.