Commentary Magazine


Obama’s Tepid Libyan Prediction

During an interview with the AP on Friday, President Obama repeatedly tried to put a positive spin on the floundering intervention in Libya, saying that “it’s only been three weeks.” Actually, Friday marked the 28th day of the intervention, but who’s counting?

“I didn’t expect that in three weeks, suddenly as a consequence of the air campaign, that Qaddafi would necessarily be gone,” Obama told the AP. “What I said was that under the U.N. mandate we had an obligation to protect civilians from potential atrocities. And we have succeeded in that.”

While he begrudgingly acknowledged that it’s “true that some civilians may be still getting killed,” he added that “we don’t have wholesale slaughter in places like Benghazi, a city of 700,000, that Qaddafi said he would show no mercy on because that’s a site of a lot of opposition.”

Yup, no “wholesale slaughters” in Benghazi. Just in Misrata, where regular sieges by Qaddafi forces have pushed the death toll into the hundreds.

Regardless, Obama said he was pleased with NATO’s progress so far, and wasn’t planning on broadening the U.S.’s role, as some other countries have hoped for. While he noted that there was a “stalemate on the ground,” he argued that, “Qaddafi is still getting squeezed in all kinds of other ways. He’s running out of money. He is running out of supplies. The noose is tightening, and he is becoming more and more isolated.”

Obama also made a prediction: “I think over the long term, Qaddafi will go and we will be successful. But again, it’s only been three weeks.” He thinks? Over the long term? You really can’t get more tepid than that.