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Tag: Libya


Foreign policy questions for tonight’s debate

Tonight’s third and final presidential debate will focus on foreign policy. In the article below, Philadelphia Inquirer columnist Trudy Rubin, who has long written on foreign affairs, previews the debate and outlines questions she’d like to see answered. It moved on the wire Friday, so the time element in the first paragraph is a little off.

By Trudy Rubin

If you’re still hoping for a serious foreign-policy debate between Mitt Romney and President Obama, you’ll have to wait until Monday, when the candidates will focus on global issues.

Don’t get your hopes up, however. For one thing, the two men know the public isn’t focused on foreign affairs, which was barely raised by the audience at Tuesday’s town-hall discussion.

For another, the most serious security challenges confronting the country — in the Mideast and South Asia — are so complex and fluid, it’s hard to provide clear answers. This makes for a lot of posturing by Romney (it’s easier for a challenger to insist the answers are obvious) and for oversimplification by Obama. Read more »


Worst of America meets worst of Islam on the Web

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

The slaughter of Americans in Libya on Tuesday follows a familiar plot. It goes like this:

One of the world’s more than 300 million Americans does something to insult Islam. The act of desecration goes viral on the Internet and other media. Muslim militants assign guilt to the entire United States. Mobs rampage; people die.

Fill in the blank: Irreverent cartoons. Quran-burning by a jackleg preacher. Quran-burning by clueless soldiers. This time, a foul “movie trailer” that ridicules Muhammad in almost every possible way in a few minutes.

And now a U.S. ambassador and four other Americans are dead, killed in Benghazi in a riot that appears to have been exploited by al-Qaida-style jihadists. Another riot in Cairo targeted the American embassy there, though there were no deaths.

The supposed trailer for something called “Innocence of Muslims” couldn’t have been better designed to incite anti-American rage in Islamic countries. Conspiracy-minded people might conclude that it was produced by al-Qaida itself.

So far, there’s little evidence of an actual movie. The short, amateurish video – obviously made on the cheap – depicts Muhammad as a lecherous, murderous buffoon.

Someone who calls himself Sam Bacile – who presents himself as both an Israeli Jew and an American – uploaded it to YouTube. The Israeli government says it has no record of such a person.

To compound the outrage, Terry Jones – the Florida preacher who staged a Quran-burning last year – has jumped in front of the cameras to endorse the video. Jones’ desecration of the Quran in 2011 triggered riots in Afghanistan that left a dozen people died.

Worst of America, meet the worst of Islam.
Read more »


A brutal dictator toppled with uncommon finesse

This editorial will appear in tomorrow’s print edition.

With rebel forces nearly in control of Tripoli, Moammar Gadhafi’s 42 years of despotism – which began when Richard Nixon was a rookie president – have ended.

This is, among other things, another big international success for Barack Obama. Some of the president’s critics continue to insist that the president is running a weakling foreign policy, but the Taliban, Osama bin Laden and now Gadhafi would beg to disagree.

From a strictly American perspective, the toppling of Gadhafi’s loathsome dictatorship played out nicely. The U.S. intervened powerfully at the outset by hitting key Libyan targets with Tomahawk cruise missiles, disabling the regime’s air defenses, and making it possible for NATO aircraft to operate freely and strike Libyan military assets with impunity.

Then the United States handed off the lead to NATO, especially Britain and France. With intense Western air support, Libya’s ragtag opposition forces gradually coalesced and began to prevail against the Libyan army, finally breaking into the capital over the weekend.
Read more »


The trick: Keep the allies and lose Gadhafi

This editorial will appear in Wednesday’s print edition.

Today – as Barack Obama announced Monday – the United States hands off the war in Libya to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization. It will be hard to tell the difference.

NATO isn’t exactly a third party. The U.S. military is the muscle of the alliance, and NATO can’t reduce Moammar Gadhafi’s armed forces from the air without American support.

The Air Force and Navy provide essential surveillance, targeting, transport, drone, electronic warfare and aerial refueling capacity. American pilots will remain in the battle in a very big way. The Air Force has recently deployed C-130 gunships and A-1 “Warthog” attack aircraft in Libya – slow-moving, low-flying warplanes that have devastating firepower and can target Libyan forces dug into cities.

Meet the new intervention, same as the old intervention. But as Obama argued persuasively Monday, labels like “NATO” and “U.N. Security Council” and “Arab League” mean a lot in an operation like this. Read more »


Attack on Libya looks like the right move

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

Military interventions have a perverse way of becoming justified or unjustified only after they’re over.

Stopping the North Korean communists seemed a terrible idea to many Americans when the Korean War exploded. Stopping communism in Southeast Asia seemed a great idea a decade later.

Barack Obama’s decision to join what looks like a half-hearted international attack on Moammar Gadhafi’s Libyan regime will be judged by the same standard: ultimate success or failure.

Given what we know, America’s involvement in the offensive is defensible. From a humanitarian point of view, the world could hardly sit back and eat popcorn as Gadhafi’s forces massacred the Libyans who have attempted to overthrow his vile dictatorship.

Military support for the rebels also serves American foreign policy interests. Read more »


Get answers to terrorist’s ‘compassionate release’

This editorial will appear in Thursday’s print edition.

For a dead man, Abdel Baset al-Megrahi is surprisingly lifelike.

Al-Megrahi was the only person convicted in the 1988 Pan Am 103 bombing that killed 270 people, including 189 Americans. Scotland assured the world that he was at death’s door a year ago, with only about three months to live. That qualified him for a compassionate release after serving eight years of a 27-year minimum sentence.

Yet al-Megrahi, who went home to Libya to a hero’s welcome, is still alive a year later. Were the Scottish doctors so incompetent that they were unable to better diagnose the terrorist’s condition?

Or was something else going on? Read more »