I swear, even with the contradictory signals various members of this administration have been sending out in regards to what our mission actually is in Libya, this dodge and weave on how to classify what we’re doing there pretty much takes the cake:
The White House held a classified briefing Tuesday with House and Senate leaders regarding the ongoing situation in Libya emphasizing the U.S. is NOT at war with Libya. Coalition forces, including the United States, are enforcing a no-fly zone after leader Muammar Qaddafi inflicted violence on innocent civilians.
Even though there are no ground troops in Libya, some are arguing that the United States has essentially entered war by invading a country with military action and expressing a desire to have Qaddafi out of power, even if that’s not necessarily part of the no-fly mission.
Technically a full declaration of war requires Congressional approval and the War Powers Act allows the president to take a limited military action, as long as he notifies Congress within 48 hours.
President Obama has held top-level meetings with members of Congress and sent a letter Monday– but some lawmakers, including Democrats, are asking for more approval. House Speaker John Boehner sent a letter Wednesday night to the president using the “w” word: “…many other members of the House of Representatives are troubled that U.S. military resources were committed to war without clearly defining for the American people, the Congress, and our troops what the mission in Libya is and what America’s role is in achieving that mission.”
So what was the administration’s reaction to the question of the day? Here’s a sampling:
FOX NEWS’ WENDELL GOLER: Is it war?
WHITE HOUSE DEPUTY NATIONAL SECURITY ADVISER DENIS MCDONOUGH:
I’ll tell you that nobody has to explain to the Qaddafi forces that we are conducting operations, that we’re conducting the kind of air strikes and using the kind of tools and resources that we’ve used to grade, to grade progress across Libya as we’ve done in other places, so I — I don’t know what you want to call it, Wendell, but I guarantee you that nobody in Libya, is mistaking our seriousness and our dedication to ensuring that we accomplish this very clear task that the president set out.
FOX NEWS’ JAMES ROSEN: Mark, are we at war in Libya?
STATE DEPARTMENT SPOKESMAN MARK TONER:
We are implementing U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973. It is clearly a combat operation or a combat mission. As the president made very clear, there will be no U.S. ground forces involved in this, and that the U.S. role is — is upfront, front-loaded, if you will, on this, but that’s going to — you know, obviously, recede into a more — a broader international coalition as we move forward to — to — implement the no-fly zone.
QUESTION: So you would not say we’re at war.
TONER: I — I think we’ve — you love these — these sweeping characterizations, and I appreciate it.
QUESTION: (inaudible) I love or do not love, but the question on the table is, are we at war in Libya or not?
TONER: I would say it’s a combat mission, clearly, but beyond that you can parse that out.
“Combat mission” rather than an act of war – really? You gotta love liberal-speak sometimes. I heard this garbage back during the Iraq war when trying to convince liberals that, like President George W. Bush, President Clinton also strongly believed that Iraq had WMD and had also waged war against Iraq – except his way of doing so was via cruise missile strikes two or three times during his eight years in office. The typical response to that was that because ground troops weren’t involved, the missile strikes weren’t technically an act of war. In response, I’d usually ask them if they’d take the same view if another country launched a cruise missile attack on the US. Of course, silence almost always followed.
It may not be a big deal to some people in the scheme of things, but the silly word games and the numerous conflicting messages this administration continues to send out on the goals, objectives, and the characterization of what we’re doing in Libya not only typifies the sheer cluelessness of this administration when it comes to “managing the message” but also exemplifies their complete disregard for the truth when it comes to being upfront with the American people – no matter the issue. I realize that standard operating procedure on “combat missions” means that not everything about the mission is going to be revealed to the public – in the interests of our national security, but a little basic honesty, along with a coherent message, would go a long way towards satisfying many of the critics of the Obama administration’s approach to this conflict.
Needless to say, I will NOT be holding my breath.