Tonight, just ahead of prime-time so as to not affect the schedules of “Dancing with the Stars” and a repeat of “House,” President Barack Obama gave a widely-televised address to make the case for his newest military campaign — this time in Libya. Members of the Project 21 black leadership network hit the keyboard rather than their remotes to give their thoughts.
Speaking from the National Defense University in Washington, Obama began in a bad position due to the poor salesmanship of Defense Secretary Robert Gates on Sunday’s “This Week” program. Gates told ABC correspondent Jake Tapper that Libya — before the first ordinance was launched against it — was not a really threat to the United States and that “[i]t was not a vital national interest to the United States.”
Obama countered tonight that the United States did have a “responsibility to act” when our national interest is (and apparently it actually now is) at risk, and that this Gaddafi conundrum presents a “problem worth solving.” Forming a coalition of the willing among the international community to take decisive, albeit late, action “in this particular country… at this particular moment” is just and the United States has pretty much already “done what we said we would do” (one could tell this was the big line because he prefaced it with “let me be clear”). Let the transition to the B Team begin.
Coby Dillard, a member of the Project 21 and Navy veteran who served in the Middle East and at Guantanamo Bay and now lives in the Hampton Roads area of Virginia, has this to say about the President’s remarks on Libya:
While the President’s actions are in keeping with his authority as commander-in-chief, it is right to question why we are involved in another country’s civil war.
Current events in Libya pose no threat to our nation or our strategic interests abroad — a fact already stated by Secretary of Defense Robert Gates.
It is also right to question how our military mission will affect the President’s stated policy of removing Gaddafi from power in Libya and how long we are committed to achieving that goal — questions that, even now, remains unanswered.
Additionally, the President’s attempt to paint the mission in Libya as an opposite of our mission in Iraq is nothing more than the words of a politician who chose not to support our servicemembers during Operation Iraqi Freedom while pandering to his antiwar base. That our intelligence that led us into war there was wrong is not a dispute. However, we entered Iraq with clear and definable goals that were met.
The hope of “making a difference” in Libya now is neither a goal or strategy that merits the employment of American military force.
Lisa Fritsch, another member of Project 21 who is a freelance writer and frequent guest talk show host in Austin, Texas, said this about the Obama address:
The best part of Obama’s speech was that we plan to use Gaddafi’s pirate booty to rebuild Libya: “We will safeguard the more than $33 billion that was frozen from the Gaddafi regime so that it is available to rebuild Libya.” The worst part is that he failed to answer how much we are on the hook for and how much we can expect from all these allies who have “joined” us in this mission.
Given what he said, I would also like to know how this is not a “dumb war” as our actions in Iraq during the Bush Administration are described. The darts all line up: evil dictator, check; humanitarian attacks, check; terrorist ties, check; rich in oil, check; possible security threat to America, check.
Suddenly, Obama has a lot more experience in judging the prerequisites of war. Or, are we really in for another one of these so-called dumb wars?
The bottom line is that President Obama spent 30 minutes putting flourish on what we already knew without ever enlightening us to the what, why, how much and expectations of what he did.