The U.S. has ceded control of the Libyan protection mission to NATO, which allows President Obama to address the American people while avoiding all of that nasty, rah-rah, pro-war rhetoric of his predecessor. After all, it wouldn’t look right for the Peace Prize-winning, anti-war movement darling to give one of his characteristic soaring speeches while the U.S. was leading missiles attacks on Libya.
So now America’s leadership of the mission is over – maybe.
It’s still not completely clear how the U.S. role in Libya will change with NATO in charge. And there’s no doubt that we will still have deep involvement. As Ace of Spades notes, whoever is appointed to command the mission “will be working under the military head of NATO who happens to be…an American admiral.”
U.S. planes also account for over half of the aircraft involved in the mission. Hillary Clinton has said that there will be a significant reduction in U.S. planes, but will NATO allies really be able to pony up enough replacements?
There are benefits to NATO taking over, even if it’s just for appearances. And it certainly has to be a relief for Obama politically. But it also gives us another glimpse of the president’s discomfort with any show of American military power abroad.