Obama and Libya: Not Another Cowboy?
Monday, March 21, 2011 - 12:20 PM
Whenever I bring up to his fans that Barack Obama once said that he would end the Iraq war the day he took office, "Not in six months or in one year, but now", they chalk it up to campaign promises that all politicians make. I don't, I see it as naivete.
The Barack Obama of 2007, when he made that pledge, either didn't grasp the larger consequences of pulling out of Iraq, something civilians like myself understand wouldn't be a one-day event or he knew that the war had become unpopular and he could tap into that opposition by making far-flung promises. Reality just didn't matter to him. He could say anything and people would cheer at the sound of his voice.
The most worrisome thing about watching Obama get elected, in a time of financial and world conflict, was that he seemingly stood for nothing and people just projected their beliefs unto him. People were tired of Bush and Obama had the word "change" right there in his slogan. The fact that Republicans picked the worst presidential candidate of all time, well, that's a post for another day.
One thing we supposedly knew, though, was that Barack Obama wasn't going to be a cowboy president. He was measured, intelligent and peaceful. He would never get us mired in a war.
Yet here we are, at the start of a third war. That the language is different means nothing. It's not weapons of mass destruction, it's not Al Qaeda training camps, it's a tyrant putting down his freedom-seeking people. That Saddam did the same thing in the most brutal fashion, with people-shredders and children's prisons, seems entirely lost on Barack Obama. In his mind all that matters is that the U.S is supposedly not "leading" this war a claim the Joint Chiefs of Staff has already contradicted because, hello, we're still America) and that we are part of a coalition. But who cares? Either we never get involved in internal conflicts, such as Libya, such as Iraq and such as so much of the Arab world, or sometimes we do. Barack Obama the candidate had no such nuance.
"The best way to protect our security and to pressure Iraq's leaders to resolve their civil war is to immediately begin to remove our combat troops," he said in that same 2007 speech where our troops would magically depart Iraq at a moment's notice. Somehow the best way to resolve Libya's civil war is to immediately send in troops.
The Iraq war, he once told us, was a "war of choice." As an American I would love for my president to inform me how he makes that war choice, how he made this particular choice. I have no idea why we're bombing Libya, and unlike my friends on the left I'm trying not to jump to the same conclusions they did about our last president regarding our intentions toward their oil.
That we know zero about our purpose in Libya, the president's rationale toward this war, what we may consider a win, all of it actually fits in with that empty suit who campaigned to be our president and who, in a time of confusion we actually chose. Are we removing Gadhafi? And replacing him with who, exactly? Will we build up the areas we bomb afterward? Is a Libyan democracy the end-goal? Do we have goals? Why is our president still in Brazil when we're at war?
All good questions Obama will answer with a "let me be clear" followed by no clarity at all.
Born in the Soviet Union and raised in Brooklyn, Karol Markowicz is a public relations consultant in NYC and a veteran of Republican campaigns in four states. She blogs about politics at Alarming News and about life in the city with her husband and baby at 212 Baby. She can be followed on Twitter.