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On Obama's Poor Response to Libya

10:45 AM, Feb 24, 2011 • By DANIEL HALPER
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The Washington Post has a hard-hitting editorial today, taking the president to task for being the "last to speak up on Libya." "Once again, an Arab dictator is employing criminal violence in a desperate effort to remain in power - and once again, the Obama administration has been slow to find its voice," the editors at the Post write. "This time, the tyrant is one of the Middle East's most evil men - Moammar Gaddafi, whose regime has staged spectacular terrorist attacks against Americans in addition to brutalizing its own people. Having apparently lost control of most of the country, Mr. Gaddafi has unleashed an orgy of bloodshed in the capital, Tripoli, using foreign mercenaries and aircraft to attack his own people."

Indeed, the New York Times today reports on a most recent evil in Libya:

Forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were reported to be striking back in several cites surrounding Tripoli on Thursday, as rebellion crept closer to the capital and defections of military officers multiplied.

The minaret of a mosque in Zawiya, a city 30 miles west of Tripoli where protesters had claimed victory, was blasted by heavy weapons in a morning attack, killing or wounding protesters who had been using the building as a refuge, a witness told The Associated Press by telephone. And in Sabratha, about 50 miles west of the capital where a government crackdown has been under way for several days, gunshots rang out as military troops filled the town, a witness said. With journalists banned from the area, it was impossible to independently verify these reports.

But back to the Post editorial -- and America's response to the evil in Libya: "By late Wednesday only one major Western leader had failed to speak up on Libya: Barack Obama." And finally, yesterday afternoon, the president addressed what's going on in Libya:

Mr. Obama finally appeared at a White House podium. He said "we strongly condemn the use of violence in Libya," but he did not mention Mr. Gaddafi or call for his removal. He said the administration was preparing a "full range of options" to respond but didn't say what those might be; he made no mention of the no-fly zone that Libya's delegation at the United Nations has called for. He stressed that the United States would work through international forums - and said Ms. Clinton would travel to Geneva for a meeting of the notoriously ineffectual U.N. Human Rights Council, which counts Libya as a member.

Mr. Obama appeared eager to make the point that the United States was not taking the lead in opposing Mr. Gaddafi's crimes. "It is imperative that the nations and the peoples of the world speak with one voice," he said. "That has been our focus." Shouldn't the president of the United States be first to oppose the depravities of a tyrant such as Mr. Gaddafi? Apparently this one doesn't think so.

Whole thing here.

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