Guest editorial…President took the right action in the Libya crisis

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by Shannon Williams

Are you familiar with the children’s character who always says “it’s not easy being green”? Well, I’m sure President Barack Obama has the same sentiment: it’s not easy being president.

As with many people, our esteemed head of state is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

Many right-wing Republicans have criticized the president for moving too slowly regarding the crisis in Libya. They wanted Obama to emerge with his chest poked out and guns blazing. Republicans were ready for war, or at minimal, some concrete actions concerning Libya. Previously, the president was giving very safe statements regarding the conflict.

Newt Gingrich, former speaker of the House, who is also seeking the Republican presidential nomination for 2012, even went so far as to call Obama “spectator-in-chief,” instead of commander-in-chief.

Democrats, on the other hand were happy that Obama was taking his time. They understood that whatever decision was made needed to be done in a cautious manner with a coalition of countries assisting.

So now that the president has issued air strikes and is specifically addressing the crisis in Libya, both Republicans and Democrats are upset that the administration did not consult with congressional members before issuing the no-fly zones.

What the heck?

Now is where egos come into play. Obama consulted with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice, his ambassador to the United Nations, so he doesn’t have to consult with Congress. Granted, doing so may have been a nice courtesy, but since he wasn’t declaring war or fully mobilizing U.S. forces, he did not need to “consult” with Congress first. That’s the problem with some people —they are so into feeding their egos that they do not address the more important issues at hand.

Despite the congressional members who feel a bit slighted, essentially the Republicans and Democrats got what they wanted. The right got definitive actions and the left got a plan that was well thought out and lacked haste. One would assume that since the two entities both “won,” their discontent with the president regarding Libya would be over, right?

Wrong.

Now some analysts on both sides of the political spectrum say Obama’s involvement in Libya has put him at great risk for reelection.

Huh?

With all the back and forth from both political parties, it is no wonder President Obama seems a bit uncertain sometimes. It is as if Obama is the ball in a neverending political tennis match.

The only thing that Obama can do about this Libya situation is to respond precisely as he has done—by taking his time, truly assessing the situation and then making an informed decision. I’ve always said that in addition to his charisma and political acumen, the other thing that got him elected into office was his intellect. He is extremely intelligent and is fully able to make the best, most sound decisions there are; he just has to take the time to focus and rely on his own decision-making abilities. We know how bad things can go with the alternative.

I’m confident that as long as Obama remains true to himself and his process of delivery, the best decisions will be made. While being cocky and having a hothead can be viewed upon as brevity for some, today’s America doesn’t need that. We had eight years of that with Bush.

The last thing Americans want to hear is that we are going to war…again…with another Middle Eastern country. Obama’s subtle strategy to allow the Europeans to do what they want with Libya, while also having American support is a great plan. It shows that we are an ally, thus maintaining our credibility and giving us the option to pull away when we need to. If the Democrats and the Republicans can’t appreciate that, then so be it. You can’t please everyone.

(You can e-mail comments to Shannon Williams at shannonw@indyrecorder.com.)

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