One of a Number of Countries

On last Sunday’s episode of This Week, ABC’s Jake Tapper grilled Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Defense Secretary Robert Gates about the Obama Administration’s reasons for going to war in Libya, and how this operation could be acceptable for a Democrat Party that spent years howling about George Bush’s actions in Iraq. 

Tapper asked why the Administration didn’t seek authorization from Congress, in accordance with the War Powers Act.  The short answer is, “because this Congress would ask even tougher questions than Jake Tapper.”

Hillary Clinton gave the long answer: “I don’t think that this kind of internationally authorized intervention, where we are one of a number of countries participating to enforce a humanitarian mission is the kind of unilateral action that either I or President Obama was speaking of several years ago.”

Everything wrongheaded, arrogant, and dangerous about Obama foreign policy is contained in that response.  The United Nations does not get to override laws duly enacted by our Congress, such as the War Powers Act.  Our laws also do not evaporate in the face of “humanitarian” concerns… and, if they did, the sadistic evil of Saddam Hussein would have neutralized them as completely as Moammar Qaddafi’s bloody crimes against his people. 

The Libyan coalition is far smaller than the “multilateral” force George Bush put together for Iraq, or any other international coalition assembled by the United States in decades.  There is no imaginable “authorization” here that did not also exist for Iraq.

Worst of all is that ugly phrase rusting away in the center of Mrs. Clinton’s response: we are one of a number of countries.

No, we’re not, and we deserve better than “leaders” who think we are.

No other country can match America’s ability to project power.  We spend over forty percent of the world’s total military budget, arming the most skilled and dedicated military the world has ever seen with the most advanced weapons ever created.  Obama is a weak and disconnected President, pulled into the Libyan operation by the French and British, but no one should labor under the delusion that America is just “one of a number of countries participating.”  We are indispensable.  The others couldn’t get it done without us.  If the United States suddenly withdrew from Operation Odyssey Dawn, it would be over.

America has always had adversaries with formidable military power, but none of them would even consider using it for a humanitarian intervention.  China wouldn’t.  Neither would the Soviet Union in its heyday.  We had to plead, and sometimes bribe, our “coalition partners” into joining us on previous interventions against tyranny.  It is a sad truth that we can’t intervene to prevent every atrocity.  No one has fought and died to prevent more atrocities than Americans.

No other nation speaks the language of liberty with the grace and passion of the United States.  The voices of others are most welcome when they join us, but when we don’t speak with strength and clarity, there is a great hollow silence that even the most spirited efforts of our allies cannot quite fill.  It was strange to watch British Prime Minister David Cameron become the Leader of the Free World, and he seemed aware that it was an uncomfortable development. 

The united resolve of Margaret Thatcher and Ronald Reagan shattered a global empire, without launching many “kinetic military actions.”  Now we have a president who began his term by telling the world how much he agreed with all its criticisms of his own country.  A delighted international Left tossed him a Nobel Peace Prize for his efforts.  The eagle’s chair at the high table of the brave has been vacant, and silent, ever since.  No wonder the world only pays attention to us when we’re being kinetic.

Whether the moment has come to lead America into war, or to explain why we will not intervene in an international crisis, leadership requires conviction.  An American president should be inspired by the astounding history of this country, along with the courage, compassion, and ability of the great people who chose him as their chief executive.  Such a President would not view his country as one of many, reluctantly clocking in and joining the small throng of nations ready to execute the will of a far more wise and benevolent global order.