Is Obama an assassin or a foreign policy visionary?
The predominant, although not unanimous, sentiment amongst the Left's opinion leaders is that the Libyan dictator Muammar Qaddafi's grisly demise represents a complete vindication of President Obama's multilateralist foreign policy.
For example, left-wing New York Times columnist Nicholas Kristof tweeted soon after the news of Qaddafi's death broke, "If Qaddafi is dead, this is (tentative) vindication of a brave Obama decision to back rebels trying to overthrow him."
How ironic it is that, back in 2003, Kristof warned "we have been midwives to growing Islamic fundamentalism in Iraq. Women did relatively well under Saddam Hussein... Iraq won't follow the theocratic model of Iran, but it could end up as Iran Lite: an Islamic state, but ruled by politicians rather than ayatollahs."
What does Kristof think today about the Obama-backed Libyan Transitional National Council's plans to institute Sharia as the governing law in Libya and to begin by removing the Qaddafi-era ban on polygyny?
The George Soros-funded Center for American Progress issued a statement on the day that Qaddafi's death was announced declaring that "Moammar Qaddafi's demise today represents a measure of justice for the countless individuals he and his regime terrorized in Libya and around the world during his 40-year rule."
Ben Armbruster, national security editor for the center's ThinkProgress blog, praised "NATO’s successes in Libya and validation of the president’s policy."
"The United States spent just over $1 billion on the war in Libya and not one American life was lost," Armbruster wrote. "Now, Qaddafi is dead and the National Transitional Council is positioning the country toward a democracy."
In an exchange between the two left-wing commentators Bill Press and Keith Olbermann on the latter's Countdown TV show, Press said:
[L]ook at Libya, right? Where we went in the beginning, but we were in cooperation with our allies, it was under the U.N. flag, NATO operations — countries — joined us in paying for it. Not one boot on the ground, not one life lost, and it’s over in seven months.
The leftist comedic commentators Jon Stewart and Bill Maher also got into the act in support of Obama.
"Is there no Republican that can be gracious and statesmanlike in this situation?" the Daily Show host Jon Stewart asked. "We removed a dictator in six months, losing no American soldiers, spending like a billion dollars instead of a trillion dollars."
Bill Maher on his HBO program said, "If you just presented the Republicans with Obama's resume and didn't say who it was, they would erect statues to this guy."
At least Jon Stewart can at times be funny. Maher is just plain mean-spirited, as he showed in following up with this ugly sexist remark: "Just the killing alone, Michelle Malkin would name her vibrator 'Obama.'”
Note that none of these Obama left-wing boosters have questioned the circumstances of Qaddafi's summary execution without trial, NATO's bombing of a children's hospital, a market, and private residences that killed or wounded innocent civilians, or the gross human rights violations that the U.S.-backed Libyan rebels were openly committing during the war and its wind down.
The Left's Obama cheerleaders also conveniently forget that Qaddafi would have posed a far graver danger to his own people and to American security interests had he not been forced to abandon his pursuit of weapons of mass destruction, including his nuclear arms program. Qaddafi did so directly as a result of President George W. Bush's successful military intervention in Iraq that brought down Saddam Hussein.
Although Obama did not seek congressional approval for American military intervention in Libya - which President George W. Bush did obtain prior to initiating military action in Afghanistan and Iraq - the Left's congressional "anti-war" Bush critics heaped praise on Obama. For example, Senate Foreign Relations Committee Chairman John Kerry (D-MA), who famously was for the Iraq war before he was against it, gushed about the Obama administration's "clear-eyed leadership, patience, and foresight by pushing the international community into action after Qaddafi promised a massacre.” Once again, Kerry seems to have gotten things backwards. It was the Arab League, United Kingdom's Prime Minister David Cameron and France's Nicolas Sarkozy who pushed hard for military intervention and led the effort to obtain the UN Security Council's blessing under the pretext of protecting Libyan civilians. Obama reluctantly joined the bandwagon already in motion, "leading from behind," as one of his senior advisors put it.
Not everyone on the Left is singing Obama's praises or is thrilled about the way Qaddafi met his end, however. The United Nations, Human Rights Watch and Amnesty International, for example, have called for investigations into Qaddafi's death.
Not surprisingly, Venezuelan President Hugo Chavez was furious over the death of Muammar Qaddafi. “They assassinated him. It is another outrage,” the Venezuelan dictator said. “We shall remember Qaddafi our whole lives as a great fighter, a revolutionary and a martyr.”
The Stop The War Coalition posted this sharply critical reaction to Obama's claim of victory in Libya:
Obama increased fighting in Afghanistan along with troops. Libya is the Nobel Peace Prize winner's second major descent into violence, this time through the NATO proxy... Obama pairs lifting the "dark shadow of tyranny" with the death of Gaddafi and then lectures the Libyan people about inclusivity and tolerance. What an odd world view this is. Libyan cities are in ruin, thousands are dead, many more injured, and the city where the dark shadow was lifted is devastated... This is not about who Gaddafi is. It's about who we are and how our good name is hijacked by leaders who order violence without any restraint.
“I think it's a great tragedy for the people of Libya,” said Brian Becker of Answer Coalition, which organized anti-NATO rallies across the country condemning the incursion into Libya. “They've taken out the leader and replaced him with a new government, which will be basically a NATO client regime.”
Qaddafi's death is "no vindication of U.S. policy," wrote Matthew Rothschild, the editor of Progressive, which describes itself as one of the leading voices for peace and social justice in this country.
When Obama committed the American military to intervene in Libya last March, Nation of Islam leader Louis Farrakhan turned on Obama, whom he had supported in the 2008 presidential election. Farrakhan branded Obama as an “assassin.” Commenting on Qaddafi's death, Farrakhan said "my brother was assassinated." He compared Qaddafi's death to the crucifixion of Jesus Christ and warned the West: "He will whoop you, living or dead."
Some of Obama's past supporters on the Left have been relatively silent on the latest developments in Libya. For example, the unrepentant terrorist Bill Ayers, an Obama supporter who broke with the president over his decision to send 30,000 more combat troops to Afghanistan in 2010, has not commented publicly on the latest developments in Obama's handling of the Libyan war.
Code Pink's co-founder Medea Benjamin had sharply criticized Obama's decision to intervene militarily in Libya in March, 2011. However, while just recently she wrote skeptically about Obama's motives and sincerity in deciding to withdraw all U.S. troops from Iraq by the end of the year, Benjamin has gone radio silent regarding Qaddafi's death.
Nevertheless, many in the lame-stream media and other leftist circles are exulting in Qaddafi's death as proof of the success of Obama's foreign policy. Yet they have no idea, nor seem to care, what comes next in Libya.
An estimated 20,000 portable, heat-seeking missiles that had been stockpiled in Libya are now missing. Many of them may well be in the hands of terrorists, who can use them to shoot down civilian aircraft.
Fundamentalist Islamic law may squelch any semblance of true pluralistic democracy and produce the kind of Islamic state ruled by politicians rather than ayatollahs that Nicholas Kristof was so afraid would sprout up in Iraq.
Libya is divided by regional and tribal factions without any nationally unifying force other than their opposition to the now deceased Qaddafi. They will have to build political and civil institutions virtually from scratch. Since Obama has committed to help the Libyan people in this regard, will the U.S. be signing up for yet another expensive nation-building exercise?
Finally, Libya is just a sideshow. As former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said, the United States has no vital interest at stake in Libya. Qaddafi posed no present danger to this country. However, Iran does pose a critical threat. With his failed policy of engagement, Obama has allowed the Iranian threat to escalate to an alarming degree.
Many of Obama's supporters on the Left may savor Obama's "victory" in Libya, but it is a minor league win at best.
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