Damning Operation Odyssey Dawn With Faint Praise

by Pejman Yousefzadeh on March 27, 2011

It is well known that if Secretary of Defense Robert Gates had had his druthers, we would not be engaged in a war with the Libyan government. Though the Obama Administration decided to reject Secretary Gates’s advice not to get involved, like a good soldier, the Secretary saluted and went to work trying to make the operation a success.

But that doesn’t mean that he’s happy about the intervention:

Asked on NBC whether the mission in Libya was vital to U.S. interests, Gates said: “No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the United States, but we clearly have interests there and it’s a part of the region, which is a vital interest for the United States.”

Secretary Gates had to say something nice about the operation in order to ensure that too much daylight does not develop between him and President Obama. But his comments aren’t exactly a ringing call to arms, are they?

The same story features Secretary Clinton–who is a well known proponent of Operation Odyssey Dawn–telling us that the United States absolutely will not intervene in Syria. Why?

“What’s been happening there the last few weeks is deeply concerning, but there’s a difference between calling out aircraft and indiscriminately strafing and bombing your own cities,” Clinton said, referring to Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi’s attacks on the Libyan people, “than police actions which, frankly, have exceeded the use of force that any of us would want to see.”

A note to Middle East dictators: Don’t use aircraft to slaughter opponents of your regimes, and the United States will leave you alone. Use aircraft and . . . well . . . all bets are off. Why the use of aircraft has suddenly become one of the determining factors–if not the determining factor–in finding out whether the United States will intervene militarily is anyone’s guess, of course.

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