The White House is unsuccessfully trying to spin themselves out of criticism about Libya by adopting a tone of weary indulgence, spokesman Jay Carney saying “the questions that are outlined by members of Congress have by and large been answered by the president himself.” Except that members of Congress nor even the New York Times, Washington Post, and USA Today don't endorse the White House’s view.
In efforts to deflect continuing criticism, the White House yesterday released their tally of Congressmen consulted, briefings given. Amidst this information was their commitment that the costs of operations in Libya would be borne within the existing defense budget. That is, the White House is going to make the Pentagon eat the costs.
Despite all the spinning from the White House, that is the real measure of President Obama’s persuasiveness: the White House fears Congressional reaction so much they are afraid to ask for the money to reimburse operations.
But that’s not even the worst thing out of the White House yesterday. The worst thing would be a senior administration official explaining “we didn’t want to get sucked into an operation with uncertainty at the end...in some ways, how it turns out is not on our shoulders.”
Let that sink in a minute. Someone important in President Obama’s administration trying to deflect criticism of the President’s policies explained to a journalist that we are handing over command of operations that American forces will continue to participate in because we don’t want responsibility for how it ends. That’s shameful. If they don’t want responsibility for how it ends, they shouldn’t have started it and they certainly shouldn’t keep American service men and women putting their lives on the line for it.
The way not to get sucked into an operation with uncertainty at the end is for the President to develop clear and achievable political objectives for going to war, to let the Pentagon develop military plans that will attain the President’s objectives, to organize a coalition both willing and able to achieve those objectives, to persuade the American people the objectives are worth the risk and cost we will be shouldering, and put the war at the center of the President’s political agenda until the objectives are achieved.
It all looked so easy when the Bush Administration was doing it.
(photo credit: European Parliament)