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Libya intervention: Praising President Obama

Obama-Libya-Intervention As Doyle McManus pointed out in his Thursday column, leading voices from both parties supported intervention in Libya -- even if now they can't agree on the details of how the mission should be carried out. (McManus offers more analysis on Friday's "Washington Week," which will be posted on PBS' website.)

Politicians and pundits, mostly from the right, are bent on criticizing President Obama for not acting quickly enough and for making the U.S. appear weak. But Timothy Eagan flipped the script in Thursday's New York Times Opinionator, offering praise to Obama for "dithering" rather than succumbing to impulsive decision-making under pressure.

In his deliberative fashion, Obama ultimately saved countless lives in the short term, and will allow the rebels in Libya to own their revolution in the long term, if they can push ahead — a big if, of course. In the meantime, the economic and diplomatic noose will tighten around [Kadafi] and the people he pays to kill on his behalf.


Still, Republicans can't cope with a president who tries to think before he leaps. Mitt Romney, who wakes most mornings in a groggy scramble to find his principles, faults Obama for the nuance of his Libya policy. How dare the president see shades of gray instead of black and white!


A poll just published by Reuters/Ipsos found 48 percent of respondents describing Obama's military leadership as "cautious and consultative." Another 36 percent chose "indecisive and dithering."

I would argue that the combined 84 percent are basically saying the same thing — that this president is anything but impulsive. And next year, with an improving economy in a world where the United States is held in much higher regard, most people will probably choose a president who takes time to get it right, rather than one who is afraid to dither for a good outcome.

In our editorial pages, the board also applauded Obama. Beyond reasoning that "the wait was worth it," it supports the decision for a multilateral intervention. From The Libya calculation:

Unlike the Iraq war, which smacked of go-it-alone cowboyism, the Libyan intervention has been for the most part a multilateralist's dream: an idealistic granola bar of an operation, carefully orchestrated to win broad support from nations around the world. Not only did President Obama seek and receive the blessing of the U.N. Security Council, the Arab League and many of America's traditional allies before signing on to the no-fly zone, he even allowed the French to lead the charge.


The truth is that modern-day war is a serious business that concerns the entire globe, and should not be undertaken lightly or entered into willfully. Americans have learned over time that they don't have a monopoly on truth, justice or good judgment. There are also practical reasons to work within an international coalition. The U.S. today is not the only great power in the world, and its resources aren't unlimited. Buy-in from other nations and international institutions such as the U.N. lends moral legitimacy to a war, spreads the cost (financial as well as human) and, as an added benefit, makes it more difficult for opponents to respond with rote anti-Americanism.


We didn't support the no-fly zone, and we have plenty of concerns about the Libyan intervention, which is far too open-ended and undefined for our taste. But if it's going to move forward, we are pleased that it is a multilateral effort. Sure, wars are more complicated when they're fought by committee. The solution, however, is not to give up on the coalitions and consensus-building that help create legitimacy, but to employ the mechanisms needed to make decisions in a timely and effective manner.


Kadafi's long reach

More bombs bursting in Libya. What for?

Obama's missed break in Libya

Libya: It's not our fight

Doyle McManus: Letting others lead in Libya

--Alexandra Le Tellier

Photo: President Obama speaks about Libya in a news conference during his meeting with Chile's President Sebastian Pinera at La Moneda Palace in Santiago. Credit: Jason Reed / Reuters


Comments () | Archives (16)

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It's good to see support for President Obama's wise manner of making momentous decisions. I'm afraid that many or most of those hoping to run for President in the Republican party try to spin careful consideration, wisdom, and intelligence into a fault -- which they certainly are not.


I disagree with the assessment made by the writer. The President was clueless and had to be prodded by the right to render a decision. Kudos to the Republicans for prompting this administration to act wisely. If leaders like McCain had not chided him, the President would still be in South America without any clue on how to move forward.

Stan Coleite

The name of the Republican game is to criticize the President no matter what on anything and everything. It started from the beginning. Undermine and raise doubt. Never give him credit for anything. He is not an American; not like "us;" wasn't born here; raised outside the USA; is in sympathy with terrorists; doesn't state what the end game is in Libya; weak; on and on...endless. And it works. Down go the President's poll numbers. The Democrats (as always) can't agree on anything and criticize him too, by the way. With friends like that...

I don't always agree with Mr. Obama, but at least he thinks first before committing the country to war. Getting the Arab League and the UN to vote first was sound policy. And for those who claim the President should have acted without that support, THAT is what got us into Iraq.

It will be interesting to watch what happens. My guess: despite it all, the Republicans come up with no one who can beat Obama in 2012.


Reality check for the Marxist LA Times:

President Bush actually had a larger international coalition in Iraq and, unlike Clueless Comrade Barry, he did bother to comply with the U. S. Constitution by getting an authorizing resolution from Congress prior to commencement of hostilities.

And, for those who still believe U. S. foreign policy should promote U. S. interests, Saddam Hussein did pose a threat to the United States. Kadhafi wasn’t even talking trash about the U.S. How's that for nuance?

So the difference between Kadhafi and Hussein and Ahmadinejad and Assad and Chavez and Castro and Mugabe and al-Bashir and Jung-Ill is...?


" Reality check for the Marxist LA Times...."

Exhibit A: How to destroy your own credibility in one short sentence.

William J Bellah

You can bet Kadafi feels betrayed, didn't he make some kind of a deal to give up his weapons program? How about others who see how he was betrayed ? The nuclear arms race was a result of the U.S. doing the unthinkable, using atomic weapons on innocent people in Japan, consequently every one needs a deterrent weapon. The Bible say's, to the evil all things are evil. It's how we choose to see things that matters.


To windfall: Exactly how did Saddam Hussein pose a threat to the United States? No WMD's were ever found. There was no Al Qaeda until we made the mess that is now Iraq. All we did was establish a dangerous precedent of attacking a soverign nation with absolutely no reason. And in the process, the American people were outright lied to. Instead of just spouting your conservative party line, why don't you try actually reading the news?

donald clugston

But the last time we changed goverments in the middle east it cost the american taxpayers nore than a trillion dollars -who has that kind of money?


we don't know what we got ourselves into yet.

francois LUCET

tres drole, to read your paper it is like reading the national inquirer,
i just return from the midle east in five country ,only thing they ask , ask Bush to come and help us not your men president Obama. You do not show or explain one thing of what is going on their ,you should be ashame of the like of honesty.
Your action are so patetique, no one trust the press anymore.


Anyone foolish enough to buy this spin piece would buy beach property next to the Japanese nuclear power plant that's leaking radioactive material.

Pure Times political spin.

Read history. There has NEVER been a conflict or war won by air power alone. It takes boots on the ground. It will be months, or longer until we know the facts (truth) about the outcome.

Presidents and their political supporters speak way too soon. This President's words are similar in nature to Bush's banner of "Mission Accomplished."

Way too soon to tell how this will turn out, how many unnecessary deaths and maimings, and how the domino effect will cause more Middle-East turmoil....that is already starting.

Be careful what you wish for....or for the President, what you say too soon.

steve chandler

You know, I don't think that the Obama Administration really wanted to participate in this war, but others clearly do. Those that we call our friends and allies. After our past escapades in Iraq and Afghanistan where we twisted the arms of our same friends and allies, now is the time for some payback. Personally, I think going into Libya was a huge mistake, but who knows, the Obama Administration has said that US involvement will be short, and that others will take the lead to manage any continuing war efforts. We can only hope that's the case.

However, if we are ultimately sucked into an ugly growing civil war in Libya, it would be prudent for the Obama Administration to immediately impose a war surcharge tax to pay for it. No doubt, that certainly would raise an bitter outcry in no time, especially from the Republican crew.

Ann  Burchfield

Reagan's people didn't finish the job back in the '80s. Now we are trying again.


How can the rebels fail "to push ahead" when coalition aircraft are firing at everything that moves and some things that don't.


WOW, the author PRAISES Obama for this?
Secretary Gates just came out and said there was NO threat from Libya to the US.
The War Act plainly says that there has to be an imminent THREAT to America before the POTUS take any Military Action.
This is an impeachable offense and instead of PRAISING this idiot, you need to calling and writing Congress to INPEACH this guy, NOW!!
Obama AND Hillary Clinton followed the UN into war. The UN DOES NOT lead this Country. They can only advise, then the Country can debate and decide.
Obama has allowed an external SPECIAL INTEREST GROUP to take the US to War!
Call and write your Congressional Representatives and demand impeachment, NOW!!


Funny that I didn't see the same folks complaining then or now that Bush took us into Iraq based on a pack of lies...



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The Opinion L.A. blog is the work of Los Angeles Times Editorial Board membersNicholas Goldberg, Robert Greene, Carla Hall, Jon Healey, Sandra Hernandez, Karin Klein, Michael McGough, Jim Newton and Dan Turner. Columnists Patt Morrison and Doyle McManus also write for the blog, as do Letters editor Paul Thornton, copy chief Paul Whitefield and senior web producer Alexandra Le Tellier.

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