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Obama’s War for Oil?

Log Cabin Executive Director R. Clarke Cooper is not the only one contending that our normally loquacious “Commander-in-Chief owes an explanation to the American people” for the Libya operation.  In her column on Friday, Peggy Noonan noted the same thing:

I cannot for the life of me see how an American president can launch a serious military action without a full and formal national address in which he explains to the American people why he is doing what he is doing, why it is right, and why it is very much in the national interest. He referred to his aims in parts of speeches and appearances when he was in South America, but now he’s home. More is needed, more is warranted, and more is deserved. He has to sit at that big desk and explain his thinking, put forward the facts as he sees them, and try to garner public support. He has to make a case for his own actions. It’s what presidents do!

Read the whole thing.  The Athena of punditry is back on her game.  Her words must have resonated with the administration; not too long after they appeared on the Wall Street Journal’s web-page, the White House announced that the president would be delivering a speech today on the Libya operation.

Noting the “firestorm of criticism about President Obama’s failure to lead on Libya and his refusal to articulate his goal(s) for the war,” Jennifer Rubin found it odd when the administration made the announcement in a “late afternoon ‘news dump’”, trying “to slip his about-face by the media before the weekend”.   Normally, presidents, she remarked, can’t wait to get their message across.

Maybe the reason this president is speaking out only reluctantly on Libya is that he really doesn’t have a message.  He chose to act, not out of principle, but out of fear, fear that Gadhafi’s survival would mean continued tension in Libya, with ever higher oil prices.  And he knows that if gas remains at or near $4 a gallon, his reelection prospects would look particularly bleak.  In short, this is all about keeping oil prices down.  (It’s too bad it’s too beholden to the environmental lobby, thus unable to adopt a coherent energy policy, allowing us to tap more of our own resources.)

Just a thought.  Maybe his words tonight will help us see that he understands the national security benefits of taking on Muammar Gadhafi.

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20 Comments

  1. I’m ambivalent about the Libya operation. Qaddafi is bad and I support our troops. But, it bears repeating that Saddam:

    - really did have ongoing and significant ties to terrorists
    - really did have WMD research / production capability that he wasn’t supposed to have (even if he didn’t have stockpiles)
    - really did threaten/attack at least four of his neighbors over a period of years
    - really was under a cease-fire which he violated i.e. an effective suspension of sovereignty
    - really did attack U.S. planes which were enforcing U.N. mandates on him
    - really did commit genocide on his own people
    - really was doing an end-run on all that by bribing U.N. officials and doing secret deals with Russians, Germans and others
    - and really did face a coalition of over 40 countries who removed him.

    So it was easy to support Saddam being removed. It was legal, it was multilateral, it was right, it concerned U.S. security interests both indirectly (i.e. allies) and directly. Whereas Qaddafi:

    - really did give up his WMD/nuclear programs entirely, in 2003 (after, and directly because, the U.S.-led Coalition had kicked ass on Saddam)
    - also really did give up his terrorist activities / ties to terrorism
    - really hasn’t attacked his neighbors, or the U.S. (lately – in the last decade or two)
    - really is just an oil supplier to France and a few other European nations, who now are worried about him
    - really is a tyrant, but, still not quite the genocide-on-your-own-people type of maniac that Saddam was.

    So… Why are we there?

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 1:27 pm - March 28, 2011

  2. Hi Dan and ILC,
    Let us grant everything you both say; can we not also say, that if Libya is also about oil, our invasion of Iraq too, was and is, also about oil?

    Comment by Cas — March 28, 2011 @ 1:33 pm - March 28, 2011

  3. No, Cas. I mean, at least not without your being more specific. For starters, I (for one) have not said that Libya is “about oil”.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 1:36 pm - March 28, 2011

  4. (continued) I have no idea what Libya is “about”. That is my point.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 1:46 pm - March 28, 2011

  5. (continued) As for Dan, I don’t know his exact thinking, but I notice at least that he posed “Obama’s War for Oil?” as a question, not an assertion.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 1:50 pm - March 28, 2011

  6. Bush was off into nation building in Iraq. I never liked that. But, if Iraq were to tend toward representative democracy (which it has so far) then it would have been an example to Egypt, Syria, Libya, Morocco, et. al.

    But Obama has permitted/pushed Mubarak to be overthrown with only the mob, the military and the Muslim Brotherhood to sort out the next chapter.

    There is no “plan” for Libya. Obama and the “allies” he sprinted to catch up with are in process of letting out more snakes than they can kill. Only an “interim” government (think Bosnia) by the “allies” will keep the Muslim Brotherhood from taking over.

    The old Arab maxim is that if you kick the king you have to kill the king. Fine. But in a festering Muslim world waiting for the 12th Imam, does anyone really think that the Obama orator can soothe the savage beast that has the strong smell of power vacuum in its nostrils?

    This Obama doctrine of picking his nose while fundamental Islam erupts is pitifully plain. He is voting “present” and will undoubtedly blame Bush.

    Comment by Heliotrope — March 28, 2011 @ 2:32 pm - March 28, 2011

  7. I am still trying to figure out what I think of this Libyan adventure. I like the idea of bombing despots in general. Hell, I think we should bomb Mugabe, Chavez, and Castro while we’re at it. We’d be doing the world a favor. I don’t think the Obama Regime has thought this through, though.

    This is kind of interesting: A map of European oil interests in Libya. You don’t really think the French wanted to intervene for humanitarian reasons, did you?

    Comment by V the K — March 28, 2011 @ 2:38 pm - March 28, 2011

  8. Hi Cas! Wouldn’t you say that getting on with oil production in the US would have been preferable to any “war for oil” and why do liberals hate oil production by the US so much?

    Wouldn’t you say that driving oil rigs out of the Gulf, financing Brazil to try a far riskier type of drilling, shutting down ANWAR and ignoring tar sands and natural gas finds is just a bit lemming like?

    Wouldn’t you say that Chavez, Q’daffy, Imadinnerjacket and rest of the Looney Tunes Brigade have zero control over our own resources?

    Comment by Heliotrope — March 28, 2011 @ 2:39 pm - March 28, 2011

  9. Less Peggy Noonan, more the Congress rejected Obama’s letter on Libya; therefore, after Obama said no television address, he changed his dithering mind as ditherers do.

    I still think Obama is too late; he’s behind the curve. An address now is like talking about the elephant stampede after the fact. He remains a fool bathed in his own narcissism & arrogance.

    He will say NOTHING in as many words as possible.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 28, 2011 @ 3:32 pm - March 28, 2011

  10. What is the United States mission statement for Libya? Obama must answer this question credibly with NO teleprompters. Stopping genocide is not the answer. Having France, NATO, & the United Nations lead is not the answer. I think Obama will get himself stuck in the mire with his speech as the lapdog MSM try their best to make Obama look credible as his credibility crumbles.

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 28, 2011 @ 3:49 pm - March 28, 2011

  11. Hi Heliotrope!
    “Wouldn’t you say that getting on with oil production in the US would have been preferable to any “war for oil” and why do liberals hate oil production by the US so much?”

    Change of topic, cool. Depends, I guess.

    As to why “liberals” “hate” oil production per se, … Why not “environmentalists”? Or do “liberals” = “environmentalists” here?

    Worries on how many environmental disasters it would cause, whether it helps cause man-made climate change, whether curtailing demand is a better policy, whether …

    I am not sure, Heliotrope. As for me, I like being warm in the winter, I like driving to, eating food, wearing polyester blended clothing, … so there you go :)

    Comment by Cas — March 28, 2011 @ 4:25 pm - March 28, 2011

  12. Hi ILC,
    OK. Thanks for your clarification.

    Comment by Cas — March 28, 2011 @ 4:26 pm - March 28, 2011

  13. I just re-read this of Dan’s:

    He chose to act, not out of principle, but out of fear, fear that Gadhafi’s survival would mean continued tension in Libya, with ever higher oil prices. And he knows that if gas remains at or near $4 a gallon, his reelection prospects would look particularly bleak.

    Dan, honestly I find that a little far-fetched. Cas, I guess Dan is calling it a war for oil; I must have blanked it out the first time, since I don’t really agree. If it is a war for oil, it is Europe’s oil supply (and on their doorstep) and perhaps we should make them do all the fighting.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 5:17 pm - March 28, 2011

  14. ILC, please note how I began the concluding paragraph, indicating that this is “just a thought.” I’m not sure I’m right here, but wanted to toss the idea out for discussion.

    It’s just that, as Jennifer Rubin notes here, various administration officials have been having troubling staying “on the same page” when defending the mission in public fora, so one wonders what are the real reasons for his action.

    Comment by B. Daniel Blatt — March 28, 2011 @ 5:31 pm - March 28, 2011

  15. one wonders what are the real reasons for his action

    Agreed. If I had to guess, I would speculate that an incoherent mash of impulses (expressed through different voices / factions within the administration) just happened to “add up” to this outcome. Perhaps Hillary, with the backing of pro-European factions at State, thought it was important to maintain American leadership? Perhaps some Obama underlings went along, thinking their boss needs a tougher image? And probably some genuine ‘humanitarian’ impulses in there (in scare quotes because they are playing with the lives of U.S. service men and women).

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 6:52 pm - March 28, 2011

  16. The real reasons he got the US involved is because Obama was pressured by the United Nations & France (!); Obama follows. He has no real answer since one does not exist. There’s no spin to help Obama out of the hole he put US in in…

    Comment by Sebastian Shaw — March 28, 2011 @ 6:52 pm - March 28, 2011

  17. Question answered: Obama committed the U.S. into Libya, because Hillary Clinton found that France wanted it: http://www.slate.com/id/2289568/pagenum/all/

    [Hillary to media:] You know, we asked our allies, our NATO allies, to go into Afghanistan with us 10 years ago… The attack came on us, as we all tragically remember. They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the U.K., France, Italy, other of our NATO allies. This was in *their* vital national interest. [emphasis in the original]

    Apparently, she did not care to note the fact that our NATO allies have been shaky (not to say useless) in Afghanistan, and that France played a particularly contemptible and dark role in l’affaire Iraq.

    The Slate article continues:

    When Clinton tried her humanitarian shtick on Face the Nation, Bob Schieffer pointed out that we aren’t attacking Syria’s ruling family, which has massacred many thousands of dissidents. To this, Clinton could only answer, “Well, if there were a coalition of the international community, if there were the passage of a Security Council resolution, if there were a call by the Arab League, if there was a condemnation that was universal …”
    [...]
    When Tapper asked the same question—why we’re attacking Libya but not Syria or the Ivory Coast—Clinton argued, “There’s not an air force being used. There is not the same level of force. The situation is significantly different enough that the world has not come together.”

    So, we have the elements of the Clinton doctrine.

    1) Attacking a foreign tyrant is NOT justified when all we have on our side is morality, U.S. security interests, seventeen U.N. resolutions, a still-active state of war created by that tyrant, and the tyrantdictator deliberately playing “Do I have it? I don’t… do I?” games as regards his WMD.

    2) But, attacking a foreign tyrant IS justified when France wants it, and European opinion agrees, and the tyrant has an air force that is relatively easy for us to attack, and on top of that we have a U.N. resolution or two.

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 9:27 pm - March 28, 2011

  18. Long story short… perhaps you could call this “Obama’s War for France”.

    Maybe we still owe them, from the War of Independence!

    Comment by ILoveCapitalism — March 28, 2011 @ 9:35 pm - March 28, 2011

  19. Why not “environmentalists”? Or do “liberals” = “environmentalists” here?

    Same Communists. “Environmentalists” or “liberals” is just a red herring.

    Comment by ThatGayConservative — March 28, 2011 @ 11:47 pm - March 28, 2011

  20. If Environmentalists were really for the environment, then they’d applaud the liberation of Iraq and restoration of the mashlands there.

    That should be a sufficient answer.

    Comment by The_Livewire — March 29, 2011 @ 7:40 am - March 29, 2011

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