The administration of Barack Obama is staffed by people who seem to believe they are smarter than the rest of us and it may be true that they are more academically gifted than most. Let us even posit that our President is uniquely brilliant and has the kind of incisive mind that has never before been seen in the White House. Even if we believe that we have a new iteration of the "best and the brightest" it is clear that there is something crucial missing in the White House.
Defense Secretary Robert Gates supplies all of the hints we need:
In his strongest language since the U.S. deployed warplanes to protect Libyan civilians, Gates ruled out sending any U.S. forces to Libya "as long as I'm in this job" — a viewpoint that he said President Obama shared. But he admitted that the rebels needed help to withstand the assault from Kadafi's forces, even with NATO warplanes overhead.
The Secretary's comments must be read in context. The administration under cover of the UN and the Arab League has now threatened to bomb the rebels and/or arm the rebels, who seem to be a ragtag group of "lawyers and Doctors" (which is not dispository; Joseph Mengele, George Habash [The Popular Front for the Liberation of Palestine], Ayman al-Zawahiri [Al Qaeda] and Abdel Aziz Rantisi [Hamas], were all Doctors; I'll leave the list of demented lawyers to others) and al Qaeda linked terrorists whose numbers, affiliations, and political/religious philosophies are opaque. We are either going to engineer regime change, though without admitting to using military force to do so, or merely enforce a civil war that operates under Robert's Rules. As noted by many, our strategy lacks coherence.
For two years now many of us who have watched the Obama administration with increasing dismay have wondered if their unforced errors were the result of hubris, ignorance, fecklessness, or design. Could the Obama administration, wedded to the faculty lounge ideological position that America was, until Obama, an imperialistic power forcing its will upon innocent and more moral subjects around the world, and that 9/11 and other insults were merely "chickens coming home to roost", be actively trying to diminish American power? Did they really desire a world in which America was neutered and our national interests effaced by the desires of the international community?
The answers appear to be "yes, but..." with the "but" being that American military power can be used for good if wielded by a highly moral man who is certain of his righteousness. Under Bush, military interventions in Arab/Muslim lands is immoral and evil; under Obama, it is moral and pure.
Two things can undermine this narrative. The first is that there appears to be no one of influence in the administration who understands how to use military force and its limitations. The faculty lounge mindset is that a military can use nearly antiseptic, nuanced, and controlled force to achieve its will. Military responses can be pin point and proportionate. This has always been nonsense but for those who do not have even an intellectual appreciation for the "fog of war" such beliefs pass for wisdom. The second point is that for want of sufficient and proper force (a problem that emerges from the confusion of aims) our objective is harder to achieve. The aphorism that "when you set out to take Vienna, take Vienna" is not sophistry but wisdom.
Two weeks ago a Youtube video became a sensation when a young, gentle giant got sick of being bullied and turned around and gave a smack down to the bully. He will not be bullied again. You stop a bully by stopping him, not by using harsh language or underwhelming force. Kids learn this by the 3rd grade.
Obama and company may be the smartest people in the White House in a generation but they lack the wisdom to recognize the limitations of their knowledge and lack the judgment to wield their power appropriately.
For a President, luck often matters more than wisdom (though the two are related.) Let us hope that Obama gets lucky and Qaddafi agrees to leave while democrats emerge to rule Libya. The alternatives would be bad for Libya, the region, and America.