Barack Obama has launched an American military operation in Libya, but has had trouble deciding on exactly why. Several weeks ago, Obama called for Moammar Gaddafi’s ouster. When he launched military operations against Gaddafi’s regime, however, Obama insisted that he would only act within the UN mandate of protecting civilians. Yesterday, Obama tried to claim both missions simultaneously by saying that our military wouldn’t try to push Gaddafi out, but that we’d still push him out some other way. What that was, Obama didn’t really know.
According to a transcript of a call between Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Tayyip Erdogan, we’re back to “regime change” — and a familiar goal:
The White House suggested Tuesday the mission in Libya is one of regime change, despite emphatic statements from President Obama and military brass that the goal is not to remove Moammar Gadhafi from power.
According to a White House readout of a Monday night call between Obama and Turkish Prime Minister Recep Tayyip Erdogan, the two leaders “underscored their shared commitment to the goal of helping provide the Libyan people an opportunity to transform their country, by installing a democratic system that respects the people’s will.”
The term “installing” suggests the goal of regime change.
The White House did not respond immediately to a request for clarification.
In their defense, they seem to be more confused than anyone at the moment about what Obama really wants. We can’t ask Obama, since he’s touring South America while everyone else puzzles over his intentions for the military intervention in Libya. Similarly, Robert Gates and Hillary Clinton are both out of the country as well, leaving Joe Biden running the show … presumably.
The term “installing” sounds more proactive than just “regime change,” which could be just limited to taking out Gaddafi and key members of his regime. Of course, the US hadn’t even gone that far of late in describing their goals in this new war, claiming not to be targeting Gaddafi or his command and control while someone rains bombs down on both. But “installing a democratic system” sounds an awful lot like the nation-building on which both Obama and Hillary heaped criticism while running for President in 2007-8.
Seems like everyone’s a neocon these days. Here’s the big question: How does one “install” a “democratic system” from 30,000 feet? Congress might like to hear that answer as well.