“‘God did not create this country to be a nation of followers,’ Mitt Romney said in what was billed as a major foreign policy address. ‘America is not destined to be one of several equally balanced global powers. America must lead the world — or someone else will.’

“William Kristol and Robert Kagan, in a 1996 essay, dubbed this unipolar approach the ‘neo-Reaganite’ foreign policy of ‘benevolent global hegemony.’

“Then, as now, the Republican Party’s interventionist consensus was being challenged. GOP politicians were balking at the Clinton administration’s humanitarian adventures in Bosnia, Haiti and elsewhere. The Republican Congress later denied authorization for the Kosovo war and, in some cases, filed suit against the White House’s unilateral military action.

“Fast-forward to today, and we see Republicans refusing congressional approval for President Barack Obama’s ‘kinetic military action’ in Libya. No fewer than 87 House Republicans voted with Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) to invoke the War Powers Resolution, long derided by conservative hawks, against this mission.”

***

“Call him the billion-dollar man. One billion for one dictator.

“According to the Pentagon, that was the cost to U.S. taxpayers for Muammar el-Qaddafi’s head: $1.1 billion through September, the latest figure just out of the Defense Department.

“And that’s just for the Americans.

“The final totals will take some time to add up, and still do not include the State Department, CIA, and other agencies involved or other NATO and participating countries. Vice President Joe Biden said that the U.S. ‘spent $2 billion total and didn’t lose a single life.’ NATO does not track the operational costs to each member country, but the funds directly taken from a common NATO account for Libya operations have totaled about $7.4 million per month for electronic warfare capabilities and $1.1 million per month for headquarters and command staff, a NATO spokesman said.”

***

“What was good about President Obama’s cautious, back-seat approach to Libya was that it denied Gaddafi the final, apocalyptic confrontation with the United States that he craved. Sorry, Moammar, but America was just part of a NATO coalition this time. Indeed, the denouement in Libya has been a good argument for halfway measures (or at least, half-visible ones).

“This was an instance when Mr. Cool had it pretty much right. Obama saw that a no-fly zone wouldn’t be enough and lobbied for tougher United Nations language authorizing ‘all necessary measures’ to protect the Libyan people. But he opted for limited U.S. involvement, front-loaded into the first week and under the protective cover of NATO and the Arab League.

“Obama deliberately kept the United States in the background even when critics began howling for a show of American ‘leadership.’ And most important, he was patient through the summer, rejecting the counsel of those who argued that he must escalate U.S. military intervention to break the stalemate or, alternatively, bail out.”

***

“Have you had any difficulty discerning Republican presidential frontrunner Mitt Romney’s precise position on the US involvement in the NATO mission in Libya?

“The one consistency has been criticism of President Obama.

“But beyond that, he’s seemed a bit all over the Libyan map

“Position 1: Obama was weak in not doing this sooner…

“Position 2: [Silence]…

“Position 3: Obama is being too aggressive…

“Position 4, after Gadhafi fell: Hooray! Now release the Lockerbie bomber…

“Position 5 – (Somewhat similar to position 1): It’s about time! The world is a better place without him!”

***

“You’ve got to hand it to Ron Paul. Whether you agree with everything that he says or not, at least he is one there in Congress trying to make our president stick to the law and understand that Congress does have a role to play in these foreign-policy decisions that are made. And Ron Paul, I think, has hit the nail on the head when he came out and said Obama had better be careful when he interjects himself and our country in other nations’ business.”