Tuesday, March 29, 2011
At one point in the above interview, Secretaries Gates and Clinton describe how unprecedented the situation in the Mideast and Northern Africa is: in the space of a couple of months, revolutionary activity is taking place in several countries, each with unique and challenging political ties and complications. Navigating such tumult is something no administration has ever had to do (my words, not theirs). Whether one thinks they've done it well or not, I'd say the uniqueness of the demand is undeniable.
For that reason, I'm backtracking some on my recent post about Libya. I'm still uneasy, but whereas it's too soon to know how it'll work out, it's clear there was much thought put into it. Serious questions remain: cost, goals, outcome; but RWS™ claims of dithering aside -- not to mention their switching positions as soon as Obama took one -- the fact that a coalition and consensus were formed and that the burden of enforcement is not entirely upon the US (anathema to the likes of Bill Kristol) indicates significant and powerful -- and impressive -- diplomacy. If it's true that a no-fly zone in Libya raises the question of why not in Bahrain and elsewhere, it's also true that it's impossible to enunciate a perfect policy with guaranteed outcome for any country at this point, and that the administration is picking its way through minefields with every move. That so far there's no obvious blowback suggests they're doing as well as anyone possibly could. And, dare I say it, a hell of a lot better than a hothead like McPOW and his cartoonish VP would have. Not only that, in contrast to my expressed fears, it might even be successful.
Having collected the code for the above video from a right-wing site self-described as "dedicated to hoping Obama fails," and looking at some of the titles there, I'm sure there'll be no convincing the RWS™. But whatever the outcome, I'm persuaded they're giving the region the sort of deep and layered consideration that we'd all hope for (except, y'know, the Foxobeckified teabaggers...); so far, I'm impressed with the jobs being done by Gates and Clinton, and grateful that we elected a president smart enough to have appointed them.
P.S: I wrote the above before Obama's speech last night. There was nothing unexpected in it, and I doubt it was convincing to doubters or satisfactory to those expecting a clear explication. I'd call it a fair summary of what's been done, if not necessarily a complete enumeration of all the reasons behind it. But maybe it was. Who knows? I did feel a certain discordance when he said that America doesn't stand by when people are slaughtered. We most certainly have. Maybe it would have felt different had he said it won't happen when new instances arise during his presidency. Or something.
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