Kristof: “Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare”

Looks like Nicholas Kristof is the only pundit who refuse to lose sight of the purpose behind the Libya intervention:

Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.

But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.

We were all moved by Eman al-Obeidy, the woman who burst into the reporters’ hotel in Tripoli with her story of gang-rape and torture, only to be dragged away by security goons. If we had not intervened in Libya, Qaddafi forces would have reached Benghazi and there might have been thousands of Eman al-Obeidys.

// snip

Critics argue that we are inconsistent, even hypocritical, in our military interventions. After all, we intervened promptly this time in a country with oil, while we have largely ignored Ivory Coast and Darfur — not to mention Yemen, Syria and Bahrain.

We may as well plead guilty. We are inconsistent. There’s no doubt that we cherry-pick our humanitarian interventions.

But just because we allowed Rwandans or Darfuris to be massacred, does it really follow that to be consistent we should allow Libyans to be massacred as well? Isn’t it better to inconsistently save some lives than to consistently save none?

// more

43 thoughts on “Kristof: “Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare”

  1. Yes, they did! I think this is exactly why PBO is getting so much flak from the left and the right. They do not like change!!

  2. Exactly whats happening now. Ghadaffy has sent an envoy to Greece to discuss a cease fire.

  3. I love President Obama’s “Doctrine” –

    When we can we should – period!

    In the meanwhile we all need to spread the word that the GOP wants to cut programs that help the poor, the disadvantaged, education etc. all while they still refuse to cut billions in subsidies to the oil companies who don’t need them and refuse to even discuss raising taxes on millionaires and billionaires!

  4. Damn, Tulips. When I think of what this POTUS has done around the WORLD…gah…can’t even express it. I caught your lovely “welcome back” the other day, and thank you. I’ve cut my online time back, subbing more volunteer work. (cancer efforts, no surprise)

  5. Gn kept us informted. Im glade things are getting better. when you use to converting with good people you miss them.

  6. Rwanda and Darfur massacres were not using tanks, heavy artillery, fighter jets and helicopters – it was fierce ground fighting, often hand to hand with machetes. A NFZ wouldn’t have worked, there would have needed boots on the ground for an extended period of time. Bahrain is home to the US Fifth Fleet, and the uprising Shiites are linked to Iran.

  7. I’d love for the media to acknowledge that there is no single cookie-cutter approach which can be utilized in all situations. Would it have been appropriate for us to destroy the Egyptian military’s capabilities as the international community has done in Libya? No. And as you point out, there are huge differences in each context which makes the accusation of inconsistency to be highly simplistic and not informative.

    Thanks for pointing that out, SR.

  8. “highly simplistic and not informative” pretty much describes the state of US media in general not just in this case. Until we have a press that takes its job seriously, it will be an uphill battle to keep the people informed.

  9. IMO if the events in Libya revealed anything to me it’s that I would not want a President Kucinich, leading the free world.

    For people like Dennis, there are no grey areas but only black and white. That’s fine when you’re dealing with abstract issues, but when the reality is that you have a nut stating that he’s going to go door to door and slaughter his own people, do you take action immediately or wait for Congresses to take a vote for authorization? I mean lets face it with the bag of crazies that were elected last Nov we couldn’t even count on a up or down vote on how many stripes are on the American flag from this bunch.

    Today the President’s critics will respond to his actions in Libya by asking the question “Well, what about the Ivory Coast”?
    Can anyone on this thread recall at any time when those on the left such as Thom Hartmann, FDL, DK, Cenk Uygur have ever discussed at great length the situation in the Ivory Coast and made it an in-depth topic of discussion before Libya? It is only now that they care much for the poor people in the Ivory Coast.

    They’re becoming so predictable, that they’re starting to lose all credibility.

  10. We have to go on the offensive and call out not just the Republicans, but the extreme left as well on their hypocrisy! I try to do that on HuffPo, but I’m not that good a writer and I find myself at a loss for words to counter the crazy things said on there. It’s very frustrating, but I keep trying.

  11. I’m so glad to see you here, gc. Saw your post that things are healing well, and I join my energy with so many others here to make sure they stay that way.

  12. Keep heart Betsy. I applaud you for trying. I myself don’t venture there any more… and its done wonders for my blood pressure.

    It’s a sort of new found freedom!

  13. gn, “…there is no single cookie cutter approach which can be utilized in all situations”.There is a sea change in the Arab/North African world that cried for international intervention. America heeded that call. (No need to look beyond PBO’s Cairo Speech to “get it”.

    BTW, I did the deed by checking whether Kristof’s column was included at GOS in the morning news round up…and it wasn’t. Is there a reason that some on the left railed against our government for not stopping genocide? Is there a reason that the UN, multi-laterforces whch have too often failed to act but once they have, the fauxgressives twirled a 180 and parrot the right?

    At the very least, Kristof deserves points for consistent analysis.

  14. An excellent column, and I think it’s past time. What I’ve been saying (and arguing frequently about) is that the President has been very consistent about his approach to the use of America’s military forces. He said it back before the Iraq War, he said it as a Presidential candidate, and he’s said it as President. The use of out-of-context quotes and outright lies about his position to attack the Libyan intervention is more about coming up with yet another “reason” for them to attack him.

    I think if anyone doesn’t believe that the President would much rather use that diplomacy had been all that was needed, they should have their head examined.

  15. Another related issue – I wonder about the call for us to promote democracy in the world only when the results of democracy align with what we want. I saw on the LA Times cover today an article complaining about the rise of Islamist voices in the burgeoning democracies in the Middle East. First of all – aren’t these predominantly Islamist communities? And don’t we see that 95% of all Islamists are quite peaceful people, yearning for the same freedom that we enjoy? Why shouldn’t they be ruled by people who share their values? Also, someone posted a change in sentiment towards America within the Islamist communities of the Middle East. Seems like the Arab Spring is bringing about a fresh attitude towards America, and we should be looking at these countries with fresh eyes, too.

  16. My dear, the word acknowledge and the msm do not go in the same sentence where the Prez is concerned. The msm is about sping skewing facts and framing truth to make it sound untrue.

  17. I used to go to ‘trough fluff’ even though I
    knew the duper queen was undermining, but I am proud to say I have not entered that site since the true agenda was displayed for the world to see. After all the accusations on corporate sellout her actions showed us who she really is/was.
    P.S beginning to get that feel about Andrew Sullivan too!

  18. I would bet money that the left, right, and the media would have been exploiting Eman’s story had Obama not joined the other countries in helping Libya. ‘Obama Does Nothing While Women Like Eman Get Raped by Ghaddafi Mercenaries’.

  19. Rand Paul Mocks Fox News: They Can’t Decide Which They Love More, Bombing The Middle East Or Bashing The President

    Courtesy of News Hounds.

  20. You are better off sending Letters to the Editor, talking to friends and family who are misinformed and calling out members of the media when they lie or get it wrong. People at those sites are beyond saving.

  21. So I’m guessing that if Obama decided to send troops to the Ivory Coast that all these critics would feel better and not complain?

  22. Thanks for the reminder of that powerful speech. We must keep the fight going. We must keep this President in office. He has alot yet to give this world!

  23. Thanks for bring this post from Kristof to my attention.

    The last paragraph is just the main point.

    When I hear people, particularly those on the left make that argument, I cringe.

    It is like a hungry man, who is starving. A loaf of bread would probably cure his hunger but all one could afford for him is half a loaf, must one then, let him die of hunger or buy the half a loaf for the starving man?

    Our debates and the easy and ready pace to find a fault with pres Obama is no longer a right norm but a ProgDems norm as well.

    Reagan had an 11th commandment. I just wish that a few many vocal ones on the ProgDem section would just remember, that with division, the Democratic house can not stand.

  24. Great for you to post this.

    CNN is right the moment running a documentary on his assasination.

    It has always brought tears to my eyes.

  25. Maybe – Kristof has little credibility with me. I love the POTUS’s position. In 2003 Kristof was beating the Iraq war drum 😦

  26. Okay evryone, please forgive if you think I am neive, wrong or overeacting but I read this in the last part of the previous blog:


    “Also, I would say, registering new voters(but only in Obamas base of AA, Latinos and Young kids 18-29), so we can augment those who would vote republican, just to stick it to this president!”

    I did not like this, am I wrong please help! What does this sentence mean anyway? Thank you. Please know that I am new for any blog language, especially such as this one. May be I am wrong I need to learn.

  27. Personally, I feel if we GOTV, we must register everyone because you never know who will vote for PBO. I worked to GOTV in 2009 and we registered everyone, we did not target any particular demographic. I think it’s bad mojo or karma to decide who we will or will not help to register.

    We were also not allowed to say who we were voting for.

  28. If you’re going to have any credibility in places where you do voter registration (fairs, farmer’s markets, the front of stores,and especially in schools) you have to do it on a non partisan basis. People will register Republican for many reasons–it’s a way to get a job in a red county, it’s a family tradition, everybody they know is one,etc. It DOES NOT mean they won’t vote for a Democratic president anymore than registering a D means you won’t vote for a Republican (see Wisconsin, Ohio, Michigan, etc). So it’s no good playing games. Play it straight and you build good relationships with merchants and school officials and you get to keep piling up the registrations.

  29. About voter registration: In Maryland we have to register all who ask. But when we do voter registration we try to go to the neighborhoods, Metro stops, events etc that are much more likely to have a high concentration of Democrats. Why do the work for the other side?

    Also, you can wear an Obama hat, t-shirt etc if you’re in a public place doing voter registration. That tends to drive away the Republican anyway because they don’t trust you to turn in their form.

    We go to schools, too, but obviously only with the school’s permission, usually through student government or, ideally, through a student Dems club. At a school I wouldn’t wear any partisan apparel.

  30. I was an official registrar for the state of MD and I registered everyone from every party. When I helped seniors with absentee ballots, I took care of everyone regardless of party.

  31. All I can say is read the comments on Kristof’s blog. You really can’t tell who is left and who is right. It appears that once again, President Obama is damned if he does and damned if he doesn’t.

    Off Topic: I know President Obama has much more class than I and obviously my 34 year old son – because today he told me that President Obama should have done a smack-down on “You Lie” Wilson at the President’s first State of the Union Address. He is absolutely livid at the way President Obama is treated in the media and by elected officials on both the left and the right. I thought folks treated Pres. Clinton badly, but this is a whole new ballgame.

  32. Thank you Norbrook for speaking TRUTH! The people who are accusing the President of betrayal are either ignorant of what he has said all along, or they bold faced liars. By the way, although you did not comment on this, those who are accusing the President for being no different than Bush really do need to “have their heads examined.”

  33. You are absolutely right gobrooklyn! That story would be playing over and over and over again to show how weak President Obama is. But much more importantly, it would be playing over and over again to show that the President is coddling a dictator whose goons are out rapping women. I think you would win lots of money for betting that “the left, right and the media” would be joining together to exploit “Eman’s story” to bash the President.

  34. gobrooklyn, I just love your snarky sense of humor! To answer your query: I am sure the left would accuse the President of being an imperialist and a neocolonialist; and the right would accuse him of siding with an Islamist President (though elected by the majority of people in Ivory Coast), against a Christian President. The MSM would repeatedly ask the President to explain the importance of Ivory Coast to U.S. National Security or to the vital U.S. interests. And, even more importantly, to provide a specific timetable as to when American forces will exit Ivory coast. And, If President Obama deploys the military to Ivory coast, without a congressional declaration of war or something similar, Reps. Kucinich and Conyers will probably call for his impeachment.

    Believe me, people who invoke Ivory Coast situation to criticize the President for taking action to save the Libyan people are not serious about saving the lives of people in Ivory Coast. For these critics it is all about a game of “Gotch you!” politics. If they were at all serious, they would be putting pressure on the UN and the so called AU, to come up with concrete plans to ensure that the verdict of the Ivory Coast people, as expressed in the elections, is respected.

  35. I hope you are not quoting Jovie out of context because I was not able to see the full text of what she exactly said. But, If what you quoted is exactly what Jovie said, I also don’t like it.

    I plan on registering all potential voters, irrespective of race, ethnicity, gender and sexual orientation. unlike the PL, I cannot presume to know who exactly belongs to “Obama’s base.” All I know is that in 2008, President Obama won votes from all segments of society. This what I intend to focus on.

    Obviously, I know that he did much much better in those segments that Jovie is alleged to have focused on, but that does not negate the fact that in order for him to be re-elected, he needs to do as well in other segments that she did not list. In his slightly over two years in Office, President Obama has ably demonstrated that he is the President of all the people in the United States, including people who passionately hate him. I think all of us who support him should emulate his exemplary actions.

  36. “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

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