Robert Stein 1924-2014

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Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mission Creep on a Creepy Mission

Is anyone surprised that the C.I.A. is on the ground in Libya, along with who-knows-what Special Forces, presumably to find out who the rebels are and how to help them?

How could it be otherwise? The President's disingenuous speech evoked "images of slaughter and mass graves," then insisted that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake"--but to prevent the first, the second is inevitable.

Little wonder that such mission creep is meeting with Congressional resistance as the Clinton-Gates team secretly briefs members on what is no secret, that we are inching toward intervention to overthrow Qaddafi.

Frustration over such sleight-of-hand is spilling over into the White House briefing room as the Presidential press secretary is accused of using reporters as "straw men" to hide what is going on behind closed doors.

Presidential credibility has been the first victim of this war that is not a war--yet--evoking Hillary Clinton's campaign mantra of being ready to deal with crises on Day One, both she and the President have had hundreds of days to get a challenge like Libya right.

Other clich├ęs come to mind: in for a penny, in for a pound, etc. Unless Qaddafi has a heart attack in the next few days, it's hard to see these Duplicity Sweepstakes continuing.

Barack Obama has two bad choices: either go to Congress and get a resolution for putting troops on the ground or let Libyan rebels be crushed with a "We did our best" shrug.

One way or another, clarity has to supersede mission creep. It won't be pretty.

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