This was today’s exchange between Jay and me during the daily White House briefing. I have never understood exactly why, if we are fighting a war in Libya – or even a “kinetic military action,” as the White House puts it – we aren’t fighting it to win.
The White House has never completely explained the rationale for letting Europe, which specializes more in cooking than military action – take the lead in this one, other than it wants to set some kind of precedent for the conduct of multilateral military action where the United States isn’t seen as the big bully. But the result has been an incompetent, inconclusive exercise, and so I wanted to see how this could still be justified in the face of hundreds or perhaps thousands of additional deaths in Libya while things drag on.
As you can see, Jay got a little demeaning, suggesting I’m expressing opinions and proposing that I must have been on vacation last time he answered the question. If only it were so!
Anyway, it’s an old press secretary tactic to try to avoid a tough question by attacking the interlocutor, so I don’t take it personally, although I doubt Jay like me very much. But I do like that he calls on me even though he knows I won’t be lobbing a softball his way.
It’s also a tactic to try to rephrase the question into one a press secretary can better answer. He tried to suggest I was saying it was the goal of the NATO operation to remove Qaddafi which, technically, it is not. But Jay had said earlier in the briefing that President Obama himself believes “it is hard to imagine that U.N. Security Council Resolution 1973 will have been fulfilled as long as Qaddafi is in power.” This is what I was talking about, and he knew it.
Anyway, here you go.