In the Arena

The Knee Jerks…As Expected

  • Share
  • Read Later

It was inevitable, of course, that the neoconservatives egging Obama into action in Libya would start sliming him when things got…complicated (as some of us predicted they would). So here’s Pete Wehner on the current situation:

It turns out a community organizer leaves something to be desired as commander-in-chief.

Now, I’ve been opposed to the Libyan adventure–it was, and is, far more important to spend our attention and resources on Egypt–so I’m not going to defend Obama’s decision to get involved or the predictable mess that it became. But for Wehner–the GW Bush propagandist–to be criticizing a President for being unprepared for war is spectacularly hypocritical after Bush’s invasion of Iraq, which took place with zero Phase IV preparation (Phase IV=how you’re going to run the place after Baghdad has been taken). And it also fails to take into account Obama’s decisive actions as Commander in Chief in Afghanistan and along the Af/Pak border and in numerous covert actions (including the Iranian nuclear sabotage–a joint US/Israeli project). In other words, it’s just another of the endless examples of Pete slinging propaganda –especially Sarah Palin’s “community organizer” talking point–and pretending it’s commentary.

All of us get things wrong–journalists, politicians, generals–especially when it comes to intricacies of warfare. That’s why it’s best to think not just twice, but five times, before committing troops or even resources to battle.  Those like Wehner, who indiscriminately plump for every new crusade (and I use that word advisedly), really should be more careful when it comes to slinging imprecations when their bloody projects go wrong.

And furthermore: I realize that I neglected the aspect of Wehner’s post that really is the most offensive:

If the United States had acted quickly and forcefully in the early days of the uprising, it’s quite likely that Qaddafi could have been removed from power, which would have been a good thing. But President Obama delayed, sent conflicting signals and then decided to intervene only at the 11th hour.

How on earth does he know? Or, for that matter, how does retired General Doug Barno? The more I watch these wars, the less confident I am that I can make such broad, sweeping statements–even when I’ve been in theater (which, so far as I know, neither Wehner nor Barno have been). We are dealing with exponential levels of complexity, with tribal and confessional rivalries. It seems to me that if we’ve learned anything this past decade, it’s that a major dose of humility is in order. We have lost, and caused the needless loss, of too many lives; we have spent trillions pursuing a mirage. That these blood-hawks are so all-fired certain about what will happen and what would have happened if we’d done things differently is just too obscene for words at this point.