Obama Flips Bird to Antiwar Crowd

Remember those heartfelt laments from the left over the horror of the U.S. invading another country without provocation? The president took all moral authority away from the anti-war movement - especially those vehemently opposed to the Iraq war - in his Libya speech last night.

But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.

Sending ground troops wouldn't be a moral outrage or a violation of international law - just a mistake!

The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support.  It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do.  If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter.  We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air.  The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater.  So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

See? Going further is a bad idea because it wouldn't work. And, of course, we can't afford another Iraq.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.  Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future.  But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars.  That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

In fact, George W. Bush could have used the identical text to explain the invasion of Iraq.

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs.  And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.  But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.  In this particular country -– Libya  -- at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.  We had a unique ability to stop that violence:  an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.  We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.  Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.  The United States of America is different.  And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

What's Cindy Sheehan going to say about this?

There will be times, though, when our safety is not directly threatened, but our interests and our values are.  Sometimes, the course of history poses challenges that threaten our common humanity and our common security -– responding to natural disasters, for example; or preventing genocide and keeping the peace; ensuring regional security, and maintaining the flow of commerce.  These may not be America’s problems alone, but they are important to us.  They’re problems worth solving.  And in these circumstances, we know that the United States, as the world’s most powerful nation, will often be called upon to help.

In such cases, we should not be afraid to act -– but the burden of action should not be America’s alone.

The kicker is that Obama endorsed American exceptionalism.

Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.  The United States of America is different.