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TIME: Libya Intervention a Watershed for Obama's Foreign Policy

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dennis4868 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-21-11 06:04 PM
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TIME: Libya Intervention a Watershed for Obama's Foreign Policy
Does Barack Obama know what he's doing?

The question isn't purely rhetorical because Obama's response to the cascade of global crises over the past several weeks has often seemed mystifying. He supported pro-democracy forces in Egypt and nudged out a regime the U.S. had backed for decades, but has been unwilling to do the same in Bahrain or Yemen. In Libya, his Administration was against armed intervention to stop Muammar Gaddafi before Obama was for it. American warplanes carried out the initial wave of strikes on Tripoli, but Obama's aides insist that Washington is merely following the Europeans' lead. U.S. officials were reticent for days as the nuclear crisis in Japan worsened, then declared the situation to be even direr than the Japanese government had let on.

As the crises accumulate, Obama has remained the picture of detached serenity, which only agitates his critics more. Kori Schake, a centrist former Bush Administration official, charges that Obama "just isn't willing to bear much freight for other peoples' freedom." The Economist's Lexington column asks, "Has he, at any point in his presidency so far, demonstrated real political courage?" and is unable to find an example. David J. Rothkopf, a national-security expert who worked in the Clinton Administration, says Obama's leadership style resembles nothing so much as "the planet's master of ceremonies - nudging, exhorting and charming, but less comfortable flexing U.S. muscles than many of his predecessors." (See the coalition troops' battle in Libya.) And yet Obama himself probably wouldn't disagree with such a caricature. The President is congenitally allergic to the bellicose language Presidents typically employ to summon the dogs of war. In announcing the start of Operation Odyssey Dawn, Obama stressed that the coalition's goal isn't to remove Gaddafi; military force would not be used beyond "a well-defined goal - specifically the protection of civilians in Libya." And he took pains to give multilateral cover to American action. "American leadership is essential," he said, "but that does not mean acting alone - it means shaping the conditions for the international community to act together."

Those words go to the heart of what Obama hopes to accomplish as Commander in Chief. In his two years in office, Obama's approach to foreign policy has emphasized the limits of American power more than its reach. He has wound down the American engagement in Iraq and stated a desire, if not a concrete plan, to withdraw substantial numbers of U.S. troops from Afghanistan. His Administration has tried to soothe relations with potential rivals like China and Russia rather than confront them. It has resisted calls for military action against Iran. As a candidate in 2008, Obama talked of the need for aggressive international efforts to alleviate suffering in other countries caused by "poverty, genocide and disease." Since then, political strife and armed conflict have caused untold miseries in places such as Sudan, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe and Ivory Coast - and yet the U.S. has stayed out of all of them. (See exclusive photos of Libya's rebels.) Such restraint reflects the President's personality. "He is by nature a prudent, cautious, measured person," says David M. Kennedy, a Pulitzer Prizewinning historian who has met with Obama. "He's not an enthusiast. He wants to be deliberate and careful, and the way in which he looks at the world reflects that."

The rest fo the article is here....
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vaberella Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Mon Mar-21-11 06:16 PM
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1. Excellently written article. Obama is a mystery to all PUNDITS and BLOGGERS.
I think that's the sum of it. They don't get how he thinks and why he makes the decisions he makes and always looking almost unfazed by the state of affairs around him. The right and the left have knee-jerk reactions and both always come off on the wrong end of the stick with Obama jerking the string on that stick which is attached to his shoe as he walks down the road. The man does things the right way and sets up the right tone. Sadly, what I've noticed it works better with the international community who generally like him. Versus the domestically---since both groups generally dislike him.
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