The Corner

The ‘We’re Not In Charge’ Kabuki

Let me just join in on this point. It is bizarre beyond mortal ken the way Obama is trying to pretend that we are not leading this effort and that we are not responsible for how it ends. First of all, we run NATO, so handing this off to NATO is like GE handing off a project to a European subsidiary and then claiming it’s not their project. Second, even as we delegate command and control to this thing, we’re still going to be providing the bulk of the kinetic action.

Moreover, nobody is fooled by any of this. This isn’t like when Tony Soprano convinced the FBI that Junior Soprano was the capo di tutti capi of the family. Everyone understands who’s in charge. As I said on Fox this morning, I’m pretty sure that Deng Xiaopeng’s last official job was as head of the state athletic commission, but that didn’t mean he wasn’t really running things. Handing this off to NATO, which requires consensus among 28 nations, simply means our forces won’t be used as effectively and efficiently as possible. I guess you can make the case that this is worth the price if we get a big coalition in return.

But that’s only true if you don’t compromise the mission. If we’re not getting rid of Qaddafi, this is all just a soul-wearying waste.

It boils down to what you think coalitions are for. I see them as a worthwhile means to a goal, not a goal in themselves. As I’ve been saying for years, it sometimes seems that liberal foreign policy can be summed up as “it’s better to do wrong in a group than to do right alone.”

Last, what’s most infuriating is that if this ends “well” — say Qaddafi is killed by one of his own men in the next couple days or the rebels manage to assassinate him, or he flees to Venezuela, whatever — you know that Obama will take credit for leading this successful mission and he will be praised for his “leadership” by many of the same people who are now pretending they believe this fiction that NATO has taken over.

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