John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Loose Talk, Loose Process

Posted on March 22, 2011

Rebel fighters gesture in front of a burning vehicle belonging to forces loyal to Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi after an air strike by coalition forces along a road between Benghazi and Ajdabiyah.

President Obama says that Libyan strongman Muamar Gaddafi “has to go.”

The question that pops up in my mind is: “Go where?”

I don’t think our President has an answer for that question. I think the President is winging it.

The Administration did a good job of getting the Arab League to agree to let us start bombing Libya. They did a pretty good job of getting the U.N. to look the other way.

They forgot one crucial group, though: the Congress.

It seems to me that making sure that the folks who are paying the bills would be clued into this latest foray into the Arab world.

The Obama Administration is taking the position that Dick Cheney took in the run-up to the first Gulf War: it doesn’t need Congressional authorization.

But the first President Bush rejected Cheney’s advice and sought Congress’s stamp of approval before launching Operation Desert Storm in 1991.

I think President Obama would have been wise to go to Congress to ask for their stamp of approval. It would have helped him to clarify his thoughts and it would have helped his Administration come up with a broader strategic justification.

Right now, I don’t see any evidence that Obama has thought through this military adventure.

Clearly, the Pentagon is unhappy with it. They know our resources are stretched thin. They know that getting into war is never clean and getting out of war is never easy. And they sense that the President doesn’t know what he doesn’t know.

Loose talk from Mr. Obama has made the situation worse. Remember, he was the one who said: "Across the board we are slowly tightening the noose on Gaddafi,” just as Gaddafi was piling up victory after victory in his war against the rebels.

When a President makes statements that are clearly at odds with reality, it is natural that his Administration will try to take steps to square the circle. After all, Mr. Obama’s credibility is on the line.

But we shouldn’t be involving ourselves in this fight merely to protect Obama’s credibility.

I am uncomfortable with what we are doing in Libya. I think it is the product of loose talk and a loose process. I hope the President tightens up his rhetoric and shares with the American people his strategy so that we have a better sense of where he is taking this country. If we are involving ourselves in another war, the President ought to let us in on the secret.

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