Fact Checking President Obama’s Lack of Leadership on Libya

As we linked yesterday in our post on Mediaite’s poor “attempt” at semantics checking of Governor Palin’s appearance with Greta van Susteren , surprisingly the Associated Press provided a pretty scathing fact check of President Obama’s speech on Libya. Using 18% of the number of staff that the AP used to fact check Governor Palin’s book Going Rogue, they addressed President Obama’s misrepresentation of America’s role in NATO, the unclear statement of America’s military mission, a lack of a clear communication of America’s interests in Libya, his false claim that Gadhafi’s advances have been stopped, and the false claim that America intervenes in all unjust and tyrannical situations that it verbal condemns.  Beyond these fact-checked claims, as Governor Palin put it last night, “the Obama doctrine is still full of chaos and questions”. He did not make himself clear. Additionally, as usual, he pointed back at the Bush administration for what he perceived as failures, and for praising supposed successes that haven’t shown . However, the overarching false claim is that President Obama stated that “real leadership” has taken place.

The first area that the AP addressed was President Obama’s discussion of America’s role within NATO. While President Obama stated that as a coalition, NATO would be taking a leading role and the US would be be supporting,  the AP points out that America provides 22% of NATO’s budget, and much of its personnel leadership. Essentially, there is some inconsistency in the state role of America in Libya. However, beyond his words, President Obama’s action lacked proper leadership. The NATO leader of military operations in Libya is a Canadian,yet when he spoke with world leaders in a secure conference call, he included France, Germany, and the United Kingdom. Canadian leadership was not included. As America is very much a leader in NATO, it shows a lack of leadership when key players aren’t included in important discussions.

The AP also addressed that President Obama stated America’s military mission was saving lives, but at the same time, the efforts also seemed to allow the rebels to advance. Additionally, President Obama’s military mission was understated and his diplomatic and political missions were overstated. Beyond this inconsistency, President Obama tried to tie America’s efforts in hastening the ousting of Gadhafi to America’s interest in the world. Governor Palin addressed both the mission’s effect on the Libyans and on Americans last night:

It’s very disappointing that we didn’t hear that commitment from our president, that America’s interests lie in Qaddafi being ousted. And without that being met, you know, I have to again ask why in the world will our military might be used according to the U.N. and Arab League desires and NATO’s leadership in this skirmish or this war or whatever it is that Obama calls it or doesn’t want to call it.


Well, if we were going to protect civilians, doesn’t that mean, then, getting rid of the bad guy? And hasn’t the president already said that Qaddafi’s the bad guy? He said that some weeks ago, when those of us who supported the no-fly zone said, yes, get in there and act. Get rid of him then. And then the tune changed coming from the White House and…

This presents another aspect of President Obama’s failed leadership–choosing his own channels of approval for his chosen mission. The AP addressed that it is disingenuous for President Obama to say America is handing over the reins to NATO when America funds and leads NATO to a great degree. At the same time, this pseudo change in optics does not show America’s leadership, but rather a willingness to allow others to lead in areas where President Obama has placed American troops. Beyond this, President Obama even admitted that he went to NATO, the UN, and the Arab League before consulting with Congress. A lot of questions have been raised about the Constitutionality of President Obama’s actions, the rhetorical and substantive  differences between “intervention” and ” declaring war”, and a whole host of other issues. Suffice it to say, President Obama sought the input and approval of worldwide governing bodies prior to ” consulting” with Congress, in essence pruning off one branch of government and grafting in three others when it comes to the “kinetic military action” in Libya.

The AP also addressed the problem with President Obama’s assertion that America always intervenes when there is a foreign atrocity and human rights are being violated, when reality shows the Obama administration is selective, as Governor Palin addressed last night herself:

Well, he did not articulate really what our purpose was, except some inconsistent humanitarian effort there in Libya. And yet the inconsistency lies with the questions now being asked, well, why not Darfur, why not North Korea? What are we going to do about Syria? All these other areas where I guess America could intervene with our power and resources to help humanity.

Governor Palin has highlighted President Obama’s inconsistency on humanitarian efforts and human rights violations in Iran and elsewhere in the past as well. The focus here is not to say where America should or shouldn’t intervene or where we should devote resources, but instead to highlight President Obama’s inconsistency and false claims.

As is his trademark, President Obama pointed back to the Bush administration and what he sees as failures with the war in Iraq and mentions the success of uprisings in Egypt when there is more concern about Egypt’s current trajectory of leadership. President Obama can’t seem to make up his mind. While the war and Iraq has cost a lot of money and sadly a lot of American lives, President Obama tends to blame President Bush for these costs, yet tends to take credit for the successes in Iraq, referencing in his speech that Iraq is now “left to its people” and combat troops are gone. The Obama administration wants to point fingers to the Bush administration to apportion blame in the costs and time devoted to Iraq, but want to take credit for the success, even as far as Vice President stating a little over a year ago that Iraq (the war that Obama opposed as a Senator) was one of the President’s greatest achievements. In his speech, President Obama praised what has happened in Egypt saying it had inspired and changed our hopes and was inspired by how young people were involced. However, as Governor Palin warned in January, with Mubarak out of power in Egypt, the Muslim Brotherhood with their lack of regard for Israel, women’s rights,and other things, has taken a greater role in creating a new government and the young people of Egypt are not a political driving force.

President Obama’s most laughable claim is that what he has done has shown “real leadership in Libya”. President Obama’s speech did not clarify what America’s true interests were in Libya. He did not give a picture of an endgame, nor a clear idea of what role our military will take in these NATO led efforts. He rose more questions than answers in his speech. Governor Palin characterized the Obama doctrine as “full of chaos and questions” and his leadership as “intervention by ad hoc policy”. In essence, Governor Palin highlighted the biggest false “fact” of President Obama’s speech–real leadership has not been shown.

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