A comforting thought. If only it weren’t belied by an entire week’s worth of news. This is the sort of thing you’d say if NATO-armed rebels were advancing west and closing in on Qaddafi’s hideout in Tripoli. Instead, he’s talking about sanctions and the endless dithering happening among western powers on whether to intervene, which is transparently nothing more than procrastination to see what happens with this recent Qaddafi offensive. In fact, Obama himself admits in the clip that the economic “noose” might not be doing much strangling:
Obama acknowledged that he remains “absolutely” concerned that Qaddafi could, via his military muscle, find a way to remain in power. “I think that’s why it’s so important for us not to stop where we are, but to continue to find options that will add additional pressure, including sending a clear message to those around Qaddafi that the world is watching and we’re paying attention, and that there have been referrals to the International Criminal Court,” he said. “There’s no doubt that I am concerned about it.”
“Qaddafi has a stash of weapons,” Obama continued. “He not only has some troops that remain loyal to him, but there have been reports that he’s also been hiring mercenaries. Even with the financial freeze that we’ve imposed, he still has some assets. The rebel groups are just now getting organized. And so we’re going to have to continue to apply pressure, and that’s why I say we have not taken any options off the table at this point.”
So they’re going to “continue to apply pressure,” even though there’s no compelling reason to believe Qaddafi can’t go on bankrolling massacres for weeks or months, the sanctions notwithstanding. In truth, the White House is looking for reasons not to intervene because it’s unpopular with the public and because, as J.E. Dyer explained earlier, it probably won’t do much good, but Obama can’t say that outright because it makes him look (even more) powerless in the face of degenerate brutality. So instead we’re “tightening the noose,” theoretically choking Qaddafi off even though not only has he now utterly crushed the rebels in the contested city of Zawiyah, he’s actually giving journalists tours of the area to prove it’s back in his control. Look on his works, ye mighty, and despair.
For an argument on why we should intervene post haste, read David Frum. It boils down to protecting American prestige, but I don’t see how that would be enhanced if we impose a NFZ and, per J.E.’s nightmare, Qaddafi ends up rolling over the rebels anyway all the way back to Benghazi. Click the image to watch.