President Obama’s responses to the Libyan crisis are deeply mysterious. What does he want, and how does he envisage the future of the Arab world and its relationship to the United States? The U.S., he says, “strongly supports the universal rights of the Libyan people.” But they have no rights at all, neither universal nor particular, and far from supporting the Libyan people in even their basic right to survival, Obama has apparently decided on a non-show. Then he has said he is “very concerned.” Is there any cliché more feeble in the entire political lexicon? “Very concerned” means, “I’m doing nothing, you may get on with your plans.”
Since he is limiting himself to “concern,” whatever was the purpose of saying that Moammar Qaddafi must go? Why should the brute go if all he faces is “concern”? Told to be gone but certain that Obama would do nothing to make him go, Qaddafi naturally went on the offensive. What will it do for the standing of the United States that its president has opened himself to ridicule in this way, broadcasting his impotence? And why should anyone trust the United States in the future? Facing even greater violence than the Libyans, the Green Movement in Iran can only conclude that the most to be expected from Obama is more “concern.”
In the event that Qaddafi’s forces retake Benghazi and crush the rebellion, there will be a horrific purge. Many will flee to Egypt though their reception there is most uncertain. Some will try to escape in small boats across the Mediterranean — Italy is already unable to cope with Tunisians in search of safety and a better life. Those who stay are at the mercy of the secret police, torturers, informers, and looters, all giving themselves license to do their worst. Qaddafi and his disgusting sons will have got the better of the United States while their victims will be cursing it. Can Obama really be happy to have helped bring about such an outcome? Is that to be his presidential legacy?