I just listened to Obama’s statement on Libya, and while he didn’t spike the football, he’s pretty proud of himself.
And, if as it now appears Qaddafi is gone, and if what replaces him is not even worse, then Obama should be proud of himself. But being right doesn’t make one’s policy decisions right; the wrong decisions can be right in hindsight, like the proverbial broken clock.
Obama’ Libya policy was broken in numerous respects.
Militarily, the effort was weak which allowed Qaddafi to survive for several months, with only recent gains pushing the rebels forward; but for the determination of Nicholas Sarkozy, Qaddafi would be a survivor. Diplomatically, Obama obtained U.N. approval for a very limited operation in Libya, then proceeded to disregard those limitations for regime change which hurt our diplomatic efforts against Syria by alienating China and Russia after they acquiesced in the limited Libya resolution. Politically, Obama played word games to disregard the need to obtain congressional approval for an extended war effort, something about which his liberal base has been almost apoplectic.
Yet at this moment, the broken Libya policy appears to have worked.
Similarly, the decision to land commandos to kill Osama bin Laden rather than bomb his compound was extremely risky. We came very close to having our special forces stranded and captured, as one of the two helicopters crashed. The decision not to bomb the compound came very close to a disaster, but it worked. So Obama’s broken decision making appears to have been right.
On what are the two achievements internationally by Obama, Libya and killing bin Laden, the decision-making was broken but worked. Like the broken clock, Obama was right twice, but for the wrong reasons.
Elsewhere in the world, we are in retreat, our influence is waning, the “Arab Spring” is turning ugly in Egypt, Afghanistan is heading in the wrong direction, and Iranian influence is on the rise.
The problem with Obama’s broken clock foreign policy is that it may be right twice a day, but it is wrong most of the time.