Obama’s Faith-Building Exercise: Energy and the Middle East
Our Sphinx-like president is now faced with a riddle: how to maintain stability in the Middle East, in the midst of, ironically enough given his campaign slogan, tectonic change.
March 26, 2011 - 11:18 pm
In his article at Newsweek, “Wanted: A Grand Strategy,” Niall Ferguson wrote, “The wave Obama just missed — again — is the revolutionary wave of Middle Eastern democracy.”
A faith-building exercise, indeed.
“It’s hard as hell,” wrote Leslie Gelb in The Daily Beast, to transform protests into democracy, and easy for the process to be hijacked by opportunists less interested in freedom for the people than power for themselves.
Far better — as Leslie “Remember that great old democrat, Vladimir Ilyich Lenin?” Gelb also wrote — to go it slow.
With all the danger now mixed with uncertainty, the Middle East needs all the prayers it can get.
Smart leadership — “’progressive pragmatism,’ with an emphasis on both words” as David Ignatius counsels — wouldn’t hurt either.
Of course, the Libyan invention doesn’t come close to passing the “dumb war” test Obama used in 2002 to oppose the Iraq intervention against brutal dictator Saddam Hussein, who makes Gaddafi look tame by comparison. Our strategic national interest is non-existent: Libya has far less oil reserves, supplying 2% of the world’s oil, and does not have the ability to threaten shipping lanes like Iran.
Rather, a smart model is that employed by President Ronald Reagan when bombing Libya 25 years almost to the day that Operation Odyssey Dawn began — consulting Congress and outlining the mission clearly for the American people from the Oval Office, not Rio:
Absent smart policy that follows protocol, prayer will have to do for now, as Gelb urges at the end of his piece analyzing Obama’s misguided Libyan intervention.
Then, again, there’s always the Constitution, as then-Senator Joe Biden articulated on Hardball in 2007, vis-à-vis Iran’s belligerence, noting President George W. Bush lacked “constitutional authority” to go to war “unless we were attacked, or unless there is proof we are about to be attacked.”