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Ex-Illinois state senator changes mind on U.S. government causing Middle Eastern regime change

President Obama encounters a locked door barring him from his office 3-23-11With President Obama locked out of his own White House (see photo on right and video below), Jay Carney stepped up and issued the latest in a series of official denunciations Thursday of a Middle Eastern dictator doing deadly things to demonstrators.

Such warnings about dictators behaving badly have been the political precursor this winter to even more serious American pronouncements and foreign trips by Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, who's off again this weekend.

First Tunisia, then Egypt have been warned by this White House under what is becoming known as the Obama Doctrine.

The emerging Obama Doctrine can be roughly described as being caught off-guard by foreign events, issuing numerous rhetorical warnings that sound swell and waiting for somebody else to do something because the president's too busy calling on someone to do something about the quality of American education, which has polled better than foreign forays.

Coming days after Syrian government agents began killing demonstrators there, is Carney's....

...strong statement on that country a sign that ophthalmologist-turned-dictator Bashar al-Assad is next on President Obama's to be severely warned list?Bashar al-Assad of syria

The presidential warnings have not yet had the desired effect on the current bad guy, Libya's Moammar Kadafi. So the United Nations passed a resolution last week for allies to take action against only Libya three weeks after it might have made a difference.

The allies imposed a no-fly zone over much of Libya, which produced grand TV footage of heavily armed jets taking off and $1.5-million Tomahawk cruise missiles roaring out of ship holds.

Fortunately, the war only caused minor disruption to the long-planned, five-day tour of South America by the entire Obama family including Grandma Robinson and her Chicago friend.

The alleged U.N. concern was Kadafi saying he was going to go around killing his revolting enemies, a popular activity among brutal dictators in numerous locales around the world for centuries. In Obama's rather expansive words:

Where a brutal dictator is threatening his people, and saying he will show no mercy and go door-to-door and hunt people down and we have the capacity under international sanction to do something about that, I think it’s in America’s national interest to do something about that.

Unfortunately, it seems Kadafi intends to perform this lethal roundup by foot. So being unable to fly house-to-house has little effect. And so far Kadafi's tanks seem to be doing OK against the untrained rebels' pickup trucks.  

Because President Obama has been busy traveling and on the telephone and....

....lunching with Vice President Joe "I'm Back from Two Florida fundraisers" Biden, the Nobel Peace Prize winner has not really had an opportunity to clear up the growing confusion among Americans about combat operations just now in a third Middle Eastern country where the bad guy has been bad for four decades, including the Lockerbie bombing nearly 23 years ago.

And although he was a member of Congress briefly, Obama hasn't had a chance to talk to them much about the war that isn't really a war; he just sent them a letter

The widespread public confusion seems to stem from a 2002 speech the then-Democrat state Sen.  Obama gave about meddling in another country's affairs to oust a brutal dictator who'd slain thousands of his own people over many years.

Somehow Americans came away from that speech and a gazillion references to it during ensuing debates and remarks with the impression that Obama opposed such international interference, endorsed by the U.S. Congress, and executed by a Republican president whose name escapes us at the moment.  

The Iraq war happened despite the state senator's wishes. The regime was changed. And Saddam Hussein was hanged.former friends Kadafi and Obama chat 2009

Unfortunately, more deadly fighting erupted there involving citizens and U.S. troops. Things weren't going very well in 2007 when the what's-his-name Republican ordered an unpopular troop surge to quell the uprising.

The ex-state-senator-now-a-U.S.-senator seemed to oppose that action too, saying he was sure it would only worsen the violence and Iraq would fly apart.

However, the surge worked. So, 13 months ago ex-senator-now-vice-president Biden, who had wanted to divvy Iraq into three parts because national unity was hopeless, went on CNN and told Larry King and his surviving viewers that a unified Iraq had become one of Obama's "great achievements" as president.

Having opposed the 2007 troop surge that wouldn't work but did, Obama in 2009 ordered not one but two of his own troop surges into Afghanistan because no foreign military force has ever won a lasting victory in that place.

This winter when the democratic ruckus began in Tunisia, ex-state-senator-ex-U.S.-senator-now-President Obama warned the autocratic rulers that he was opposed to crushing demonstrators with military and police force. The regime changed.Obama Toasts on south america trip 3-21-11

When the same street rumbling began down the coast in Egypt, Obama warned its dictator Hosni Mubarak again and again about not liking violence against protesters. That didn't work for a while. But eventually the longtime dictator stepped down (it may have had something to do with the Egyptian army giving him no choice) and no one knows now what will fill the void.

When the Libya unpleasantness erupted, the earnest rebels enjoyed a string of military victories, causing much shooting into the air. Unfortunately, the United States didn't have an aircraft carrier in that sea at the time, another reason for delaying the no-fly zone that isn't going to work anyway.

Now, it could be Syria's chance to take the world warning stage. On Thursday, Obama press secretary Carney, apparently unaware of the U.S. combat operations underway around Libya, flatly declared: "We reject the use of violence under any circumstances."

The same day Obama sent Secretary Clinton out to explain that Americans were no longer going to command the Libyan no-fly zone, that because the United States is the world's only remaining superpower, we are relinquishing command and turning it over to the North Atlantic Treaty Organization.

Which is commanded by an American.

So now, finally, everything is clear.

-- Andrew Malcolm

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Statement by the Press Secretary on Violence in Syria, as provided by the White House

The United States strongly condemns the Syrian government’s brutal repression of demonstrations, in particular the violence and killings of civilians at the hands of security forces. 

We reject the use of violence under any circumstances.  We are also deeply troubled by the arbitrary arrests of human rights activists and others. Those responsible for the violence must be held accountable. 

The United States stands for a set of universal rights, including the freedom of expression and peaceful assembly, and believes that governments must be responsive to the legitimate aspirations of their people. We call on the Syrian government to exercise restraint and respect the rights of its people and call on all citizens to exercise their rights peacefully.    ####

Photos: Jim Young / Reuters (Only authorized Obamas allowed in); Associated Press (al-Assad); Reuters (former friends Kadafi and Obama chat, 2009); Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press (Obama toasts Chile. March 21).

Comments () | Archives (8)

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what's the fuss? i'm happy european troops are going to be at risk from accidents, stupidity, and hostile forces. the writer deliberately confuses himself; that nato is commanded by a united states military officer doesn't alter the fact of someone else's kids going to war in our name.

there's a simple answer to all the bush-obama killing of U.S. military. stop the wars. bring the troops home.

sound familiar? it woulda worked in Vietnam, now we know. que plus ça change que plus des soldats mortes.

Andrew Malcolm needs to learn how to use a period. It is a very common tool in separating thought

(AM responds: Where's yours here?)

Well as a senator one must be able to have it as usual thing that a leader must have. He should not turn his back on this kind of problem.

It's good to see not everyone is drinking the Obama Kool-aid.

Im not very surprised to hear this from Jay Carney..

The always bizarre partisan propaganda of Malcolm is in high gear today at pants-on-fire level.
1st, nobody who wasn't delusional supported Iraq invasion in the 1st place. We all knew it was a bad idea: even 8 years later it's a little short of a stable democracy and the main effect has been to elevate Iran to a regional power (WWII was about 3 1/2 years, for pity-sake).
2nd, it was masterful how BHO forged an international coalition without USA sticking our own a** out othe window alone (consider Bush's "coalition of the willing"? Camaroon?). BHO definitely had juice to get Arab League and UN to back our hand. The French who usually call things right (Vietnam, Iraq) are stepping up. And it looks like we're already out of the driver's seat. Malcolm, stop taking the drugs and observe that this is as good as it gets for military intervention in current world. It's one thing to be twisted, it's another to just spin out lies.

Good article! Thank for enumerating for those of us who find it hard keeping score.
Just wondered since Obama tells us Libya was a 'humanitarian' mission against a murderous regime, why was it so easy for him to completely ignore the pleas from Iranians once again? Obviously their leadership is one of the most brutal and tyrannical and the people are shot down in the street, imprisoned or publicly hung for asking for Democracy. They tried in 2009 and we ignored them. They tried again in February this year and once again...ignored. What would have been 'humanitarian' was helping these people. They aren't Arabic, violent or murderous people. They are educated, kind-hearted, creative and gentle Persians who have been suffocated by their government forever. I guess our 'humanity' is on a pick and choose basis.


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About the Columnist
A veteran foreign and national correspondent, Andrew Malcolm has served on the L.A. Times Editorial Board and was a Pulitzer finalist in 2004. He is the author of 10 nonfiction books and father of four. Read more.
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