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Obama's Problematic Approach to War

Alan W. Dowd Tuesday, March 29, 2011

The U.S.-led military intervention in Libya is decidedly different than the ongoing military operations underway in Iraq and Afghanistan in at least one sense: Unlike those wars, which President Barack Obama inherited from his predecessor, Libya is Obama's war from start to finish. As such, it offers us the first true picture of how this commander-in-chief commands -- and how he believes U.S. force should be employed.

One thing we have learned is that the president is very much a reluctant warrior, as was evident even before he launched what his press secretary calls a "time-limited, scope-limited" operation. Consider the president's statement on Libya in early March, when he noted that his administration had "organized . . . a series of conversations about a wide range of options that we can take." To be sure, there are benefits to husbanding U.S. military power, especially given U.S. force commitments in Afghanistan and Iraq, as well as in South Korea, Japan and the Asia-Pacific region. But there are also risks, especially in an era when so much of the world tacitly or openly depends on Washington to keep the peace or at least keep the bad guys at bay. ...

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