The Corner

When You Set Out to Take Vienna, Take Vienna!

When the mission in Libya and its methods are not clearly stated and the leadership role of the U.S. is not defined, then the ambiguities and paradoxes simply mount. The president’s statements and press conferences are only making things more oblique. Are we (and our European allies) or are we not targeting Qaddafi? Should he go, as the president once demanded, or not? Why are we so eager to claim a U.N. sanction to American action when we have not introduced the matter to the U.S. Congress for approval? At least we can say of our Congress that its members were all elected, which we cannot say of many in the General Assembly and some in the Security Council. I’ll pass on the Arab League, but the president for some reason in his statements thinks it is more important to justify American military force through a vote of approval from non-democratic states than his own country’s legislature. If we “tone back,” as the president promises, does he really think others will “tone up”? And given that our present toned-up role has not resulted in the departure of Qaddafi, what will the toned-down version do?

Instead, we ignore congressional approval, broadcast to our enemies all sorts of self-imposed limitations on our use of force, have not defined the mission as the removal of Qaddafi, on day three are promising less rather than more military force, have no clue what is to replace him, and seem uncomfortable with a leadership role that would define victory and take the necessary measures to achieve it.

Under those conditions, I am afraid this president has no business putting U.S. forces in harm’s way when he not only has not answered these questions, but apparently has never considered them.

Victor Davis Hanson — NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Second World Wars: How the First Global Conflict Was Fought and Won.

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