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Right Turn
Posted at 07:45 AM ET, 03/28/2011

Morning Bits

Nina Easton adds up the president’s failings on Libya: “And, you know, there is wiggle room within that U.N. resolution to arm the rebels and to provide enough oomph for them to go after Qaddafi. And, you know, the key behind this, by the way, is that this is a multinational — a multilateral effort. And he has been criticized for that, the president. But I think the explosion in Syria and Bahrain shows that this should be multilateral.But being multilateral doesn’t mean you have to be weak and defensive and give a signal that you are not that interested in victory.And when you read the president’s Saturday address, that’s what it is. It’s apologetic, it’s defensive. I’m afraid that that’s what we’re going to hear again on Monday.”

Elliott Abrams sums up the strategic benefits of regime change in Syria: “The Syria/Iran/Hizballah axis is a huge benefit to Iran, and ending it would weaken Iran’s position greatly. Syria is Iran’s only ally in the Arab world and its land bridge to Hizballah. . . . If a Sunni-led Syria (and the country is 74% Sunni) ended the Assad regime’s romance with the ayatollahs, American interests in the entire Middle East would gain. Hizballah’s power in Lebanon would diminish instantly and the opposition to Hizballah — the March 14 movement, and Lebanon’s Sunni, Christian, and Druze communities — would grow stronger. Iran’s ability to threaten Israel would diminish if it lost what amounts to a land border with Israel through Lebanon’s Hizballah-controlled south. Moreover, every time a Middle Eastern tyranny falls, and especially so in the case of the tyranny most closely linked to Iran, it makes Iran’s own terrorist regime seem more outdated and anomalous in a Middle East where democracy is spreading.”

Former Federal Reserve Vice Chairman Alice Rivlin totals up the potential damage if we don’t reduce our debt: “According to Rivlin, a sovereign debt crisis would result in a large interest rate spike, a fall in the global value of the dollar and a period of economic decline much worse than the recession that began in 2008.”

Don’t count on us being out of Libya any time soon: “ ‘We have to a very large extent completed the military mission in terms of getting it set up. Now, the no-fly zone and even the humanitarian side will have to be sustained for some period of time,’ Defense Secretary Robert Gates said. Asked for how long on NBC’s ‘Meet the Press,’ Gates said, ‘Nobody knows the answer to that question.’ But he said sustaining the no-fly zone would take ‘a lot less effort’ than establishing it. He said the Pentagon was planning to shift some of its resources to European and other countries pledging to take on a larger role.”

If you are keeping a tally of silly things said about the Libya war, here’s another: “In two separate interviews Gates acknowledged that Libya did not hold ‘a vital interest’ for the U.S., although he emphasized the geopolitical importance of Libya in a region fraught with recent instability.” Why would he say it, even if he believes it? The point is to convince the enemy you are more serious about winning than he is. So much for that.

Former CIA chief Michael Hayden enumerates the problems with the gap between our stated and real goals in Libya: “I can only imagine what . . . General Ham is going through and particularly his tactical commanders. . . . [They] try to square that circle. And at what point are Gadhafi forces representing a clear and present danger to civilians as opposed to an opposed armed enemy force from the opposition? It must be very difficult right now to apply the rules of engagement in the way that General Ham suggested. And as [former national security adviser] Stephen [Hadley] and I are saying, I mean, in for a penny, in for a pound. This isn’t over until Gadhafi is gone. We need to square up our means with our objectives.”

Do you reckon if given a choice between an Irish Setter Dad and a Tiger Mom, anyone would choose the latter? Alas, you don’t get to pick your parents.

By  |  07:45 AM ET, 03/28/2011

 
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