Recall that when President Obama launched his war against Libya, he was hesitant to even call it a war. “Kinetic military action” was the widely mocked term of art employed instead. Congress never authorized the Libya war as required by the Constitution. Obama wasn’t even so sporting as to consult the lowly legislative branch.
The president was determined to keep this an air war, like Kosovo, rather than put boots on the ground, as in Iraq. That keeps U.S. troop casualties low and ensures that even if the intervention eventually blows up or proves harmful to long-term American interests, fewer voters will be paying attention.
Like the administration’s drone strikes, it is a way to seem hawkish without the consequences.
And also like the drone strikes, it is not truly without consequences.
It is difficult to escape the conclusion that the Obama administration was trying to avoid a large presence in Libya, one that would have exposed troops to greater risk of casualties and made the “kinetic military action” look more like the undeclared war it really is.
A preventive war of choice for regime change based on debatable premises. Faulty intelligence. Too light a footprint. No plan for after the dictator fell or understanding of what kind of evils the power vacuum would unleash.
The president tried to avoid George W. Bush’s mistakes in Iraq, planning a humanitarian intervention with international approval and beneath the American people’s radar.
He instead ended up repeating many of Bush’s mistakes with predictably disastrous results.
The lesson Obama seems to have drawn from the Bush years is wage war lightly and don’t get caught.
It can’t be done.
Where is the outrage? Where are the chanting protesters with their rallying cries?
Obama lied, people died.
W. James Antle III is the editor of The Daily Caller News Foundation. Follow him on Twitter.