Category Archives: Obama


Notable & Quotable –

Rather pathetic…


A Middle Eastern despot now knows for sure when his time in power is well and truly up. He knows it when his bankers in Zurich or Geneva cease accepting his transfers and responding to his confidential communications and instead begin the process of “freezing” his assets and disclosing their extent and their whereabouts to investigators in his long-exploited country. And, at precisely that moment, the U.S. government also announces that it no longer recognizes the said depositor as the duly constituted head of state. Occasionally, there is a little bit of “raggedness” in the coordination. CIA Director Leon Panetta testified to Congress that Hosni Mubarak would “step down” a day before he actually did so. . . . Generally, though, the White House and the State Department have their timepieces and reactions set to Swiss coordinates.

This is not merely a matter of the synchronizing of announcements. The Obama administration also behaves as if the weight of the United States in world affairs is approximately the same as that of Switzerland. We await developments. We urge caution, even restraint. We hope for the formation of an international consensus. And, just as there is something despicable about the way in which Swiss bankers change horses, so there is something contemptible about the way in which Washington has been affecting—and perhaps helping to bring about—American impotence. Except that, whereas at least the Swiss have the excuse of cynicism, American policy manages to be both cynical and naive.


Outflanked by France

Review & Outlook: Outflanked by France –

As I have said before: “They are making it up as they go…”


The battle for Libya is moving fast toward what could be a Berlin-style climax, with opposition forces advancing on Tripoli even as demonstrators in that city are mowed down in the streets and mosques by regime loyalists. From French President Nicolas Sarkozy we heard the clarion call of the civilized world: “Mr. Gadhafi must go.”

And from the American President, the leader of the Free World, we finally heard yesterday—a call for sanctions. Details to follow.

The Obama Administration was missing in action amid the ouster last month of Tunisian dictator Ben Ali, and hesitant and erratic when it came to the resignation of Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak. Perhaps that was understandable given that the breadth of Arab revolt wasn’t yet clear, and that both regimes—along with Bahrain—are U.S. allies.

But that can’t be said of Libya’s “Brother Leader,” even after the U.S. made its cold peace with him when he abandoned his secret nuclear program in 2003. Whatever claims Moammar Gadhafi had on U.S. forbearance vanished the moment he began to open fire on his own people. We understand the Administration must take account of the security of Americans in Libya. So too must the governments of Britain and France, which have been outspoken in their denunciations.

On the other hand, the U.S. also has an interest in using its resources and power to prevent the bloodbath that Gadhafi’s bitter-end resistance now promises. For the Administration to stand by and propose sanctions that will have little impact while the regime murders hundreds or thousands of civilians will not endear Libyans to the U.S. when Mr. Obama offers his outstretched hand to the next government in Tripoli.

Mr. Obama’s first instincts in these crises invariably is to declare that the “international community,” whatever that is, must “speak with one voice.” What the world really needs is for an American President to lead.