Explaining his justification for sending U.S. forces to attack Libya, Obama told reporters in a press conference in El Salvador on March 22 that:
Now, with respect to our national interests, the American people and the United States have an interest, first of all, in making sure that where a brutal dictator is threatening his people and saying he will show no mercy and go door-to-door hunting people down, and we have the capacity under international sanction to do something about that, I think it’s in America’s international -- in America’s national interest to do something about it.In a further refinement, Obama offered the following statement in Saturday's Weekly Radio Address:
That doesn’t mean that we can solve every problem in the world. It does mean that when you have not only the United Nations but also the Arab League and also other countries in the Gulf who are saying, we need to intercede to make sure that a disaster doesn’t happen on our watch as has happened in the past when the international community stood idly by.
I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility.Some are referring to the above statements as the Obama Doctrine of limited intervention but only with broad international support. But like nearly every other aspect of Obama's foreign and national security policy there are many confused and contradictory elements.
Sec. Gates: No U.S. 'Vital National Interest' in Libya
Obama's statement that intervention in Libya "is in America’s national interest," was contradicted by Bill Gates, the Secretary of Defense in an interview on the This Week Sunday program. Along with the useful hedging and butt covering came the following: "“It [Libya] was not -- it was not a vital national interest to the United States."
Intervention in Syria?
Amnesty International reports that the death toll in Syrian protests is rising daily. President Bashar Assad, an ally of Iran, ordered his military to take brutal action in suppressing protests. The number of dead is still smaller, compared to Libya, but may soon catch up with those in Egypt where the Obama Administration played a front and center, if confused, role in unseating President Mubarak.
Asked about an intervention in Syria, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said that such intervention was "not going to happen," due in part to lack of any international consensus. Yet, here is a case where there is a direct U.S. national interest in unseating the dictator Assad.
Together with Iran Syria has been a prime benefactor of the radical Islamic terrorist group Hezbollah, which has established bases in Lebanon. Hezbollah has killed at least 289 Americans, including 241 Marines who died in the Beirut barracks bombing in 1983. Hezbollah is the key agent in destabilizing Lebanon and attacking Israel. There are reports that Hezbollah agents are actively working in Syria to quell protests against the regime. And by "quell" I mean kill. Unseating Syrian dictator Assad might be the best way to unravel the Iran/Syrian/Hezbollah terrorist nexus. If that's not in the U.S. national interest I don't know what is.
Like Iran, Syria has been a key transit point for Al Queda and other agents entering Iraq to attack and kill U.S. forces.
Yet we have the Obama Administration issuing hands off policies regarding Syria as well as Iran. Funds for democracy activists were cut by Obama in Iran just as he did in Egypt.
No one is suggesting that we propose a no fly zone over Syria, but at the very least we should offer assistance, short of military help, to the protesters. Obama, who couldn't shut up when it came to criticizing Mubarak or Khaddafi's treatment of protesters hasn't spoken one word in support of the protesters in Syria. This is the same silent treatment he followed for at least a week while Iranian government agents were shooting protesters in the streets.
Where is the American drive in the United Nation's to condemn Syria? Not a word from the U.S. Mission to the United Nations. No U.S. call for Arab League or other international support to end the violence in Syria.
Obama Policy: Incoherent, Incompetent, Confused and Contradictory!
Obama seems bent on continuing a policy that weakens U.S. leadership and confounds and confuses our allies. Niall Ferguson, a professor of history at Harvard, recently said : "A succession of speeches saying, in essence, "I am not George W. Bush" is no substitute for a strategy."
Thus far, Obama's alternative to Bush policies has been more damaging to U.S. national interests and critical allied relationships than the worst imagined by Bush's critics during the years of his presidency. The consequences of Obama's weak leadership and confused and contradictory policy actually make the indecision and waffling of the Carter years look competent by comparison.
A while back I assumed that the consequences of Obama's lack of foreign policy experience would take years to be made evident. That assessment was wrong. It's obvious now that Obama neither understands complex international problems nor has the inclination to effectively represent U.S. national interests and lead world opinion. The emptiness of his empty suit is now apparent for all to see!