I swear I had not seen Jack Kelly's column today when I wrote my last post yesterday. I had been thinking about that post for a week or so, after hearing about Helene Cooper's article in the NYTimes about the role Rice, Power and Hillary Clinton in persuading Obama to take action in Libya. But it is ironic that some of the facets of this intervention I thought Obama could be praised for are ones that irritate Kelly.
Apparently Kelly wants wars to conducted as serious business, with only the most serious of commitments. I guess he wants to see proper troop deployments, ground forces commanded by American officers marching into Tripoli (as I believe American Marines did a couple of hundred years ago). I have to say I think the subtext of kelly's column is saying that while liberals might have complained about George Bush's unilateral approach in Iraq in 2003, our actions in Libya show the downside to a multilateral approach (or say I think Kelly is saying).
Except that Iraq is not going particularly well, even eight years later. The government is still shaky, and it remains to be seen whether we can ever leave. One thing that might be keeping us there is the possibility Iran might try to move in if we did leave.
Kelly is annoyed that Obama has not stated unambiguously that Qaddafi must be removed. But I point again back to our actions in Iraq. While one could say that the goals for combat operations were pretty clear (capture the country), our over all goals in Iraq suffered from the lies told be the administration, such as about weapons of mass destruction. I think that ultimately Obama will emerge from this Libyan action more popular abroad and at home.
Kelly seems upset that the group contributing to the no fly zone in Libya is made up of volunteer nations. Except that in the real world that is the way things should work, and that generally seems to be both be and have been the case. George Bush did call the allies for his invasion and occupation of Iraq the "coalition of the willing". Of course, after it became clear that Saddam Hussein did not have weapons of mass destruction and also had nothing to do with 9/11, our allies became less willing quite quickly. It is possible that this time around, our allies will appreciate that Obama is not stretching the truth the way his predecessor did. Of course, events in Libya will follow their own course, but at least our allies are not likely to complain about how Obama mislead them.
On the other hand, Mark Bittman has a food manifesto in the editorial section well worth reasoning.