If there was an indication that the days of so-called “cowboy diplomacy” are over, the Obama administration’s handling of the crisis in Libya may be just that.
On this weekend’s broadcast of “Fox News Sunday,” panelist Bill Kristol seemed to long for those days. The Weekly Standard editor ripped President Barack Obama for being outmaneuvered by the Arab League as far as a response to the brutal crackdown by Libyan dictator Muammar Gaddafi, calling it “humiliating.”
“I think no one will do anything unless the United States does anything,” Kristol said. “It’s humiliating for the Arab League, which has always been a plaything of dictators to now be further along in calling for serious actions to remove Gaddafi, enemy of ours with American blood on his hands, presumably restart a nuclear program and restart his ties to terrorism if he survives this. It’s humiliating for them to be ahead of us. I suppose if the Obama administration feels it needs the cover of a bunch of Arab dictators calling for us to intervene against this terrible dictator, I’m for it if it helps the Obama administration to finally do something but we need to do something.”
But Kristol proposed more than just a no-fly zone, a policy which by itself has outspoken critics within the Pentagon. He argued there should be a more aggressive military posture in the region.
“I think at this point you probably have to do more than the no-fly zone,” he said. “You probably have to tell Gaddafi he has to stop in his movement east and we are going to use assets to stop him from slaughtering people as he moves east across the country. We might take out his ships in the Mediterranean. We might take out tanks and artillery.”
Should Gaddafi survive, Kristol warned that the nation’s strategic interests would be in jeopardy.
“I think we should recognize the opposition government in Benghazi – as the French have, as the Arab League now has — and basically tell Gaddafi that at least we may not be willing to go in and remove him from the part of the country he controls but at least we will not let him slaughter people and take control and retake the country. If he takes control of the country he’ll restart terror activity. He will quite possibly restart his nuclear program. He has chemical weapons. It’s unacceptable. The President of the United States has said Gaddafi must go. How can you stand up as President of the United States and say that Gaddafi must go, and then do nothing about it? It would be a horrible defeat for us. It will set back our efforts elsewhere in the Middle East and it will be disastrous to have him back in charge. Not just a humanitarian disaster, but a national strategic disaster to have him back in charge of Libya.”