A Flea in the Fur of the Beast

“Death, fire, and burglary make all men equals.” —Dickens

Tag: obama libya

Obama Needs An Answer On Libya, Quick

by evanmcmurry

The Obama Administration has gotten itself into a bad pretzel over the Benghazi attacks. The opening question on Libya struck me as particularly bad for Biden in last week’s debate; sure enough, even as the rest of Biden’s performance has since faded into general lore, his answer on Libya has lived on in specifics. Romney has made hay of the fact that Biden et al didn’t know about additional security requests. And especially with conflicting statements from the State Department, he’s actually got a good case for criticism.

Moreover, I don’t think Clinton taking a hit on this is going to convince anybody, and it opens Obama up to exactly what John McCain, Kelly Ayotte and Lindsey Graham fired at him immediately following Clinton’s late-night emergence from under the bus:

Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., and two of his colleagues said that “the buck stops” with President Obama with respect to the terrorist attacks in Libya, but they praised Secretary of State Hillary Clinton for her willingness to claim the blame in the absence of the White House taking responsibility.

“The security of Americans serving our nation everywhere in the world is ultimately the job of the Commander-in-Chief,” said McCain in a joint statement with Sen. Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., and Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-N.H. “The buck stops there.”

[…] The senators took issue with her statement on two points. “If the President was truly not aware of this rising threat level in Benghazi, then we have lost confidence in his national security team, whose responsibility it is to keep the President informed,” they said.

If you’re a fired-up Mitt Romney, you hit Obama with this all night. Romney has gotten nowhere all campaign with his “Obama = apologizer” foreign policy line; now, just weeks before the election, he has a legitimate FP gripe with the administration. All of Obama’s increased debate prep may be for naught if he can’t find a good answer to Romney’s challenge.

New York Times Now Taking Questions For Obama From Former Bush Officials

by evanmcmurry

The New York Times gets the White House to admit that were it not for Romney’s tone deaf response to the killing of an American diplomat in Libya, the Obama administration would be on the defensive this week. Why?

The upheaval over an anti-Islam video has suddenly become Mr. Obama’s most serious foreign policy crisis of the election season, and a range of analysts say it presents questions about central tenets of his Middle East policy: Did he do enough during the Arab Spring to help the transition to democracy from autocracy? Has he drawn a hard enough line against Islamic extremists? Did his administration fail to address security concerns?

Good questions, I guess. But the first quoted of those “range” of analysts, who casts the Obama administration as naive and complacent, is a former Bush administration official. So is the second of that “range” of analysts that the New York Times quotes. But the second, Richard Haass, apparently didn’t get the memo:

“The reality is the Middle East is going to be turbulent for the foreseeable future and beyond that,” said Richard Haass, president of the Council on Foreign Relations and a former State Department official in the Bush administration. “It’s going to present the United States with any number of difficult choices. It’s also going to be frustrating, because in most instances our interests are likely to be greater than our influence.”

Translation of that last line: there’s not all that much we—read: the West, read: Obama—can actually do to affect the events of the Middle East. Which answers all the questions that this “range” of analysts got the New York Times to helpfully ask for them.