The National  Memo Logo

Smart. Sharp. Funny. Fearless.

Monday, December 09, 2019 {{ new Date().getDay() }}

As Moammar Gadhafi’s regime takes its last gasps in Libya, the Obama Administration is close to celebrating its third major foreign policy victory this year. In February, the United States’ refusal to support Egyptian strongman Hosni Mubarak greatly contributed to his downfall. In May, Navy SEALs crossed the Pakistani border on direct orders from the President and killed Osama bin Laden. In August, Gadhafi is finally being removed from power thanks to the efforts of a multilateral coalition in which the United States played a pivotal role. The Obama Administration’s foreign policy doctrine, which has linked these three successes together, is a radical and successful diversion from that of George W. Bush, even if some vestiges of that era — like the prison at Guantanamo Bay — remain.

According to Deputy National Security Advisor for Communications Ben Rhodes, the mission in Libya reflects the Obama Administration’s preference for a “multilateral and light-footed approach to regime change.” In an interview with Foreign Policy, Rhodes stated that the Administration believes that “it’s far more legitimate and effective for regime change to be pursued by an indigenous political movement than by the United States or foreign powers.” Rhodes also highlighted the importance of multilateralism, which ensured that “the U.S. wasn’t bearing the brunt of the burden” in Libya.

Foreign policy expert Joe Cirincione expanded on these comments, coming up with this explanation for Obama’s foreign policy:

“The Obama Doctrine is one guided by universal compliance with democratic norms and the rule of law; policies driven by the convergence of shared interests and responsibilities; and a statecraft that does not shirk from the application of military force when necessary but promotes America’s interests, with respect for other nations and the strength of joint enterprise.”

This doctrine was well reflected by the successful missions in Libya, Egypt, and Pakistan. The United States’ actions in Libya were legitimized internationally by United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973 and the support of the Arab League, and the Americans relied on burden-sharing within the NATO coalition. In Egypt, the U.S. refused to intervene directly, leaving the revolution in the hands of Egypt’s indigenous political movement. In Pakistan, when the use of military force was necessary to promote America’s interests, President Obama did not hesitate to deploy Navy SEALs to kill bin Laden.

The end result has been a great success. Moammar Gadhafi, who has brutally repressed his own people while supporting terrorist groups around the world, has finally been deposed after 40 years. Hosni Mubarak’s dictatorship is in the process of being replaced by a government that reflects the will of the Egyptian people — or at least we hope so. America’s public enemy No. 1 has finally been killed, dealing a crippling blow to Al-Qaeda. Not a single American soldier has been killed in these missions. The effort in Libya cost the United States around $1 billion (compared to trillions in initial spending and long-term obligations from the Iraq and Afghanistan wars) and our involvement in Egypt and Pakistan cost significantly less. The only question left is, can the United States do it again?

Fareed Zakaria argues that they can, and that the liberation of Libya represents the dawn of a new era in U.S. foreign policy.

“In the future, we will again have to follow this limited model of intervention. The United States is not going to have the kind of defense budget nor the national will to engage in a series of major military operations in countries that are, frankly, not vital to our national interests.”

Rhodes largely agrees with Zakaria; although he doesn’t believe that the United States can apply the exact same approach that it took in Libya to intervention in other countries, he stressed that the two principles of burden-sharing and relying on local forces would be “characteristics of how the President approaches foreign policy and military intervention” in the future.

As the United States begins to ramp up pressure on Syrian President Bashar Al-Assad to step down, it will be interesting to see whether it again tries to “lead from behind,” convincing its allies to join in supporting the revolutionaries. No matter what happens there, however, President Obama has had a wildly successful 2011 in the international sphere. It is a bright spot in a presidency so dominated by bad economic news.


Start your day with National Memo Newsletter

Know first.

The opinions that matter. Delivered to your inbox every morning

Sen. Lindsey Graham, left and Rudy Giuliani

Youtube Screenshot

It’s not just the House Select Committee on January 6 that wants a better look at many of those involved in Donald Trump’s scheme to overturn the results of the 2020 election. Thanks to their wide-ranging activities in many states, investigations are going on at the local, state, and federal level into actions that Trump’s team took in attempting to reverse the will of the American people.

No state may have borne more of Trump’s focused fury than Georgia. President Joe Biden carried the state by over 12,500 votes, making it second to Arizona when it comes to the the narrowest margin of victory. This was far outside the realm of possible change that might be addressed by a recount, but Georgia conducted a recount anyway. When that didn’t make things any better for Trump, he requested that Georgia count a third time, which it did. Trump still lost, and by a bigger number than ever.

Keep reading... Show less

J.R. Majewski

Youtube Screenshot

A Republican House candidate for a competitive seat in northwest Ohio said Monday that mass shootings are an acceptable price to pay for his right to own guns.

"I don't care if countries in Europe have less shootings because they don't have guns. I care about THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA and OUR 2nd Amendment Rights," Republican J.R. Majewski tweeted Monday evening. "I think Americans stopped caring what Europe thought of our country in 1776."

Keep reading... Show less
{{ }}