Just a blurb on Twitter, but Jackson Diehl’s a longtime WaPo columnist with plenty of contacts, no doubt:I hear Obama administration has asked for contingency planning on a no-fly zone for #Libya
Let’s hope so, because the White House’s new plan to impose sanctions is so palpably lame as to operate as an admission that they’re not planning to do anything to stop protesters from getting shot. [...]
As for the no-fly zone, if they’re going to do it, it has to begin immediately. Rebels beat back an attempt by Qaddafi’s forces to retake the areas around Tripoli, and in Benghazi they’re vowing to march to the capital and take Qaddafi’s palace. The final standoff is coming, so if President Present wants to make a difference, he needs to give an order ASAP. Just one question: Has Qaddafi already lost control of his air assets? The Guardian claims that rebels have taken Mitiga air base near Tripoli, which means…If Mitiga air base near Tripoli is confirmed as having gone over to the Libyan popular uprising it would be a serious blow for the regime close to the heart of the capital. The military base is adjacent to a civilian airport used for domestic and some short-haul international flights.
Mitiga has figured before at dramatic moments in Libyan history. It was a primary target of the US bombing in 1986 — retaliation for Libyan involvement in alleged terrorist attacks on US servicemen in Europe. Soviet personnel were based the during the cold war. Until shortly after Gaddafi’s 1969 revolution June 1970, the US air force used the facility, then known as Wheelus air base.
So even the no-fly zone may come too late, days after it might have prevented demonstrators from being strafed by Libyan jets.
I was wondering what was taking the administration so long to take serious steps in dealing with the threat Gaddafi poses to his own people. Then, remembering the president's priorities, I recalled that Obama had indeed been focused on what is truly important to him.
White House jams to the Motown sound
The White House reverberated like a long-ago basement sound studio in Detroit as the likes of John Legend, Seal, Jamie Foxx, Nick Jonas and Sheryl Crow channeled their inner Motown before Michelle and Barack Obama.
So, I'm not surprised that Obama was, in all likelihood, nursing a little hangover after the event. He must have felt the need to blow off some steam Thursday, after his gallant effort to get 300 US citizens out of harms way in Libya, and on to a ferry... At least, out of the way of the stray bullets being fired from Gaddafi's mercenaries. The passengers aboard the US-chartered boat were actually stuck off the coast of Tripoli for more than two days, due to weather. There is said to be over 6,000 Americans registered at the US Embassy in Libya. I know the administration is doing everything they have thought to do, but perhaps they should give China a call to see exactly how they managed to get 12,000 of their nationals out of Libya, up to this point.
I will give credit where credit is due, and some credit is due to whoever on Obama's team reportedly decided to take Governor Palin's advice. Even though she offered it last Tuesday. She wrote:
Now is the time to speak out. Speak out for the long-suffering Libyan people. Speak out for the victims of Gaddafi’s terror. NATO and our allies should look at establishing a no-fly zone so Libyan air forces cannot continue slaughtering the Libyan people.
While reportedly taking her advice on the no-fly zone, Obama hasn't really spoken out so much for the people of Libya as he has tip-toed around the issue for days.
Brad Wilmouth at Newsbusters reported on Friday, that the Libyans who are standing up to Gaddafi in protest, are seeking a "strong message" from the president:
On Friday’s NBC Nightly News, during a report which focused on a group of Libyans helping to organize protests against dictator Muammar Qadhafi, correspondent Richard Engel gave viewers a glimpse into oppressed people looking to America for support as he concluded his report by relating that these protesters "have been waiting for a strong message from Washington." He also recounted that he had seen graffiti at the rebel headquarters calling on President Obama to "choose between the Libyan people or Qadhafi."
I wouldn't hold my breath, for anything "strong" from this administration.
Outside of the snarky tone of most of this post, I want people to understand the seriousness of the situation in Libya. Muammar Gaddafi has a big arsenal, including a large stockpile of mustard gas. He has shown a willingness to slaughter his enemies throughout history, and in recent days, his own citizens. Setting up a no-fly zone would disable Gaddafi's ability to gas the people of Libya, and perhaps save thousands of lives. Time is crucial, but the Obama administration has been behaving as though they have all the time in the world to deal with this problem. They don't. Throughout the last two years, they have proven themselves to be incompetent on all things regarding foreign policy. Now is the time for this administration to take the training-wheels off, grow up, and act like world leaders... If not for the sake of this nation, then perhaps for the people of Libya.