Newly taciturn president decides maybe he should say something about Libya after all

No, he’s not doing it in the Oval Office. Like I said last night, that’s reserved for wars, not “time-limited, scope-limited military actions.” The venue will be the National Defense University in Washington. “A professor’s war” indeed.

7:30 p.m. ET on Monday. Everything becomes clear.

Mr. Obama has come under criticism from Republicans in Congress for failing to provide a coherent explanation of the operation, which is in its sixth day. Administration officials say the air strikes have averted a rout by Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi in the Libyan city of Benghazi and established a no-fly zone over Libya…

In a statement Friday, the White House said he would “update the American people on the situation in Libya, including the actions we’ve taken with allies and partners to protect the Libyan people from the brutality of Muammar Qaddafi, the transition to NATO command and control, and our policy going forward.”

Really? It’s just Republicans who are confused about where we’re headed? Try and guess which “Republican” wrote this today:

So what the hell are we doing? I realize that President Obama and his advisers have answered this question many times, but I feel it’s necessary to keep asking until the answers begin to make sense…

The only way to end the threat is to depose Gaddafi — which is what the United States wants to do. “It is U.S. policy that Gaddafi needs to go,” Obama said this week. So is that what we’re really doing in Libya, ousting a brutal dictator?

Absolutely not. The military mission is specifically limited to the humanitarian goal of protecting civilians. According to the White House, we’re not taking the rebels’ side — and we’re not using military means to unseat Gaddafi…

So is this the probable outcome, a divided Libya with Gaddafi holding the capital — and the oil-producing infrastructure — while the rebels effectively become wards of the United Nations? Or is it more likely that Libya devolves into “a giant Somalia,” as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton fears?

That’s Eugene Robinson, writing in WaPo. Elsewhere in the same paper, Jonathan Capehart — also not a congressional Republican at last check — called earlier today for Obama to speak sometime soon and answer “serious questions” about the mission. Robinson’s question would be a good place to start. If, realistically, the only way to stabilize Libya is to get rid of Qaddafi, then we should try hard to get rid of Qaddafi, right?


President Barack Obama told congressional leaders there are no plans to use the U.S. military to assassinate Libyan strongman Muammar Qadhafi — despite the administration’s policy of seeking regime change in the North African country — according to sources familiar with a Friday White House Situation Room briefing.

“There was a discussion of how we have other ways of regime change,” Maryland Rep. Dutch Ruppersberger, the top Democrat on the House Intelligence Committee told POLITICO. “It’s not our role to do anything at this point from a kinetic point of view. It is our goal for regime change, but we’re not going to do it from a kinetic point of view.”…

Ruppersberger said the president offered no timeline for how long U.S. forces would be involved in an operation that has been turned over to the control of NATO.

Any theories on how “non-kinetic” short-term regime change might work? There have been persistent reports of Qaddafi’s inner circle putting out feelers to western powers about some sort of “peace” deal. It’s impossible to believe that Qaddafi himself would accept exile at this point, though, even with financial guarantees and an amnesty for war crimes. Maybe the coalition is trying to get people close to him to depose him? Or are we still talking about arming the rebels and hoping that somehow, eventually, they’ll finally push into Tripoli and take him out?

Here’s poor Carter Ham trying to explain why, as a military man commanding military assets that have been flying directly over Qaddafi’s head, he absolutely positively won’t use military means against Qaddafi.