Commentary Magazine


White House Reaches Out to Arab League After Rebuff

The White House might be trying to recapture the Arab League’s support for military action in Libya, after the organization condemned the intervention today.

According to The Hill, Vice President Joe Biden placed calls to Algerian Prime Minister Ahmed Ouyahia and Sheikh Sabah Al-Ahmad of Kuwait today, in an attempt to gin up endorsements for the ongoing air strikes.

The White House said that Biden “discussed with both the prime minister and the emir their mutual support for the full implementation of the resolution and the need to protect the Libyan people.”

After the Arab League’s about-face on the no-fly zone, it’s not necessary for the White House to pander to it in this way. The Obama administration has maintained for weeks that a no-fly zone would inevitably entail an attack on Libya’s air force. The UN Security Council measure, which was supported by the Arab League, clearly spelled out that “all necessary measures” – including air and sea attacks – would be used against the Libyan military.

The Arab League wants it both ways. By calling on the UN to take action, it was able to finally compel the Obama administration to support military intervention in Libya. And now that Western forces have intervened, the organization can sit back and bemoan that it was clueless about what a no-fly zone actually entailed. By continuing to seek the Arab League’s approval, the White House is rewarding disloyalty and giving the organization more weight than it deserves.