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Obama wins big in Libya


Criticized and chastised by Republicans for not taking the lead of NATO forces in protecting Libyan rebels from the forces of Moammar Gadhafi, President Barack Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy paid off yesterday, October 20, 2011, with the death of Gadhafi in the hands of Libyan rebels. 

And as quick as they criticized him for letting the British and French forces lead the bombing attacks against Gadhafi’s forces, the Republicans gave the British and French the full credit for the NATO victory in Libya and downplayed Obama’s role.  But as it turned out it was American Predator drones together with NATO warplanes that attacked the convoy carrying Gadhafi and his family, who tried to escape from Sirte – Gadhafi’s hometown – after the town was overran by Libyan rebels. 

Gadhafi was wounded by the Predator and NATO air strikes and fled on foot.  Libyan rebels hunted him down and found him hiding in a drainage pipe.  They pulled Gadhafi out of the hole and he begged, “Don't kill me, my sons.” The rebels reportedly killed him; however, the National Transitional military chief said that he died of his wounds.  His body was then rushed to Maserati where it was displayed for public viewing. 

Leading from behind

Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy cost the American taxpayers $1.1 billion (per Defense Department figures) and didn’t lose a single life.  This doesn’t include the operational cost incurred by other NATO and participating countries in the coalition. 

According to information released by the Defense Department, the following are the figures from March 31 through October 20, 2011: 7,725 air sorties and 1,845 strike sorties (397 of which dropped ordnance and 145 Predator drone strikes).  The NATO aircraft -- including those provided by the U.S. – totaled 26,089 sorties and 9,618 strike sorties.  More than 70 American aircraft including Predator drones were involved in the operation.  The day before Gadhafi was killed, NATO flew 67 sorties and 16 strike sorties.  In addition to aircraft, the NATO forces also used submarines, aircraft carriers, destroyers, frigates, amphibious assault ships, and supply ships.  According to Pentagon, the U.S. sold the participating countries approximately $250 million in ammunition, parts, fuel, technical assistance, and other support functions. 

Evidently, Obama’s “leading from behind” strategy was just a cover for the U.S.’s deep involvement in what Obama calls the “collective action” of NATO and several Arab countries participating in the operation. 

In a “celebratory” statement at the Rose Garden, Obama said, “Without putting a single U.S. service member on the ground, we achieved our objectives and our NATO mission will soon come to an end.” And in a display of bravado, he said, “We’ve taken out al-Qaeda leaders, and we’ve put them on a path to defeat.”

“This comes at a time when we see the strength of American leadership across the world,” said Obama.  Indeed, this year alone, Obama has sent American troops into action in at least seven countries on two continents.

Arab Spring

Since the Arab Spring began in which the dictatorial regimes of Tunisia, Egypt, and Libya were toppled, not a single American life was lost.  And with Osama bin Laden, Anwar al-Awlaki, and Gadhafi killed, Obama is standing tall today.  His critics at home cannot ignore the fact that no American President before has done what he achieved without the loss of a single American life.

The elimination of Bin Laden, al-Awlaki, and Gadhafi has weakened the terrorist networks whose goal is to destroy the United States.  The United States’ use of high-tech warfare in its campaign against terrorists is paying great dividends in Afghanistan and Pakistan where high-ranking terrorists have been attacked by unmanned Predator drones. 

Central Africa operation

Last October 14, Obama deployed 100 U.S. special operations troops to Central Africa to serve as advisers to Uganda and several other Central African countries in hunting down Joseph Kony, the leader of the Lord’s Resistance Army (LRA) that has been terrorizing Central Africa since 1987.  According to the United Nations, more than 380,000 people have been displaced by the LRA in Uganda alone as a result of human rights violations, which include murder, kidnapping, and rape.  In his letter notifying Congress of the deployment, Obama said, “I believe that deploying these U.S. armed forces furthers U.S. national security interests and foreign policy, and will be a significant contribution toward counter-LRA efforts in central Africa.”

With Obama’s “lucky streak,” the Uganda campaign could add another feather to his cap.  But is it really “luck” that has made Obama succeed in playing his hand in a new game in the war on terror?  Or is it the product of hard work?  As someone once said, “The harder you work, the luckier you get.”  And observing Obama’s “no-drama” persona shows a leader who takes risk but plans with precision.  Indeed, he is the kind of man who goes for the guts and gets the job done.

By Perry Diaz

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