February 24, 2011

If a U.S. president could speak honestly about Libya...

Listening to U.S. journalists demand to know what the Obama Administration is doing about Libya is growing tiresome.

So much so that it was refreshing to hear the NATO secretary-general announce today that he "cannot consider the situation in Libya a direct threat to
NATO or NATO allies."(Translation: "Stop bugging me about what NATO is going to do about Libya. NATO might not do anything about Libya, and that's okay.")

If a U.S. president could speak honestly about Libya, he would say something like this:

"Look, I have been alternately horrified by the behavior of the Libyan regime over the past few days and inspired by the courage of the Libyan people. But if you're asking me what we the United States is going to do about the situation, the answer is very little. Most Libyans reject the idea of external intervention by western powers, and we're just fine with that since we have few interests in Libya. You can't expect the United States to take an active role in responding to every humanitarian crisis or regional conflict worldwide unless you take a ridiculously broad conception of our interests, and Americans are increasingly unwilling to fund a military and aid program that could respond to each and every flare-up around the world. You cannot, in other words, have a steak-and-lobster foreign policy on a budget more suitable for McDonalds. But if I'm wrong and you guys want to cut social security and Medicaid to increase funding for USAID, the Department of Defense and the State Department, let me know. As for the rising price of oil? Look, folks, it's a global market. I can ask our Saudi friends to increase their output, but honestly, we Americans enjoy relatively cheap gasoline since we hardly tax the stuff at all compared with our industrial partners and competitors. I know that comes as little solace to a suburban mom dealing with national infrastructure built around the internal combustion engine, but that's not going to change anytime soon, and I can hardly tax Americans less, so we're stuck. You're just going to have to adjust your consumption as best as possible and save elsewhere." 

[Here's what the president actually said.]