EJ Dionne, Jr. had an op-ed in the Washington Post entitled “Obama can’t win for winning,” in which he discusses Obama’s opponents’ refusal to admit that perhaps this method of “leading from behind” was a winning solution in Libya.
Dionne, who is also a professor at Georgetown, states, “Let it be said upfront that the rout of Col. Gadhafi was engineered not by foreign powers but by a brave rebellion organized inside Libya by its own people.” He continues with, “United States has no troops in Libya, which means our men and women in uniform do not find themselves at the center of— or responsible for— what will inevitably be a messy and possibly dangerous aftermath. Our forces did not suffer a single casualty. The military action by the West that was crucial to the rebels was a genuine coalition effort led by Britain and France. This was not a made-by-America revolution, and both we and the Middle East are better for that.”
Dionne’s point is that no matter what President Obama does, his opponents will not let him claim a victory, nor will they acknowledge that perhaps his “middle-ground” policies are a good strategy. Actually, some critics from both parties claimed that President Obama was in violation of the War Powers Act. A bipartisan group in Congress even went so far as to file a lawsuit over the military action. Although President Obama continually stated that our actions were not an act of war, as there were no military personnel on the ground, the total cost of the intervention is estimated at “$896 million through July 31,” according to ABC News. With daily airstrikes, and even more aggressive strikes over the last few weeks, these presidential denials seem somewhat disingenuous.
Obama tried to frame this intervention as a humanitarian effort. He had allies in Congress, such as U. S. Rep. Nancy Pelosi, D-Calif., who backed this military mission. His opponents criticized him, understandably, when they compared his position on military engagement now, to his position when he was a senator. Senator Obama adamantly opposed engagement in Iraq and Afghanistan.
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