Obama is right about Libya

Had the president, the U.N. and the Arab League not acted when they did, the mass murdering dictator in Libya would have executed a mass slaughter that would have been a moral disaster for the world and a strategic disaster for the United States.

Let me be clear at the outset. I am no neocon. I opposed going to war in Iraq from the very beginning. I opposed Guantánamo and torture and still do and always will.

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Because so much of the cable news coverage has missed the mark, especially on MSNBC and Fox News, let me make the key point crystal clear.

At the exact moment that Obama ordered U.S. forces to act based on the U.N. resolution, the Libyan dictator had already begun the early stages of mass murder in Benghazi and other areas under rebel control.

Had the mission been delayed by 24 hours the mass slaughter would have been executed. The result would have been a moral blot on the United States and the world for not acting to stop it, and a strategic disaster for the U.S. that would have sent a signal to every dictator and despot in the Middle East and elsewhere to mass slaughter their people who advocate more freedom.

I will disclose that for three weeks I have privately advocated this action. I wish the decision had been made sooner.

But make no mistake: the decision that was made, when it was made, has already achieved one major U.S. objective of preventing a mass slaughter that would have inspired other mass slaughters that would have grievously harmed American security interests.

I like Rep. Dennis Kucinich (D-Ohio) but believe he is absolutely dead wrong even raising the subject of impeachment, and shame on MSNBC for giving him a megaphone that continued this morning with bannered headlines.

Kucinich is legally completely wrong. There are many precedents for what the president is doing under the War Powers Act and other laws and constitutional precedents. It is absurd and ridiculous for him to raise the impeachment issue and absurd and ridiculous for MSNBC to give it any credibility. Kucinich in this speaks for nobody in the House Democratic Caucus. He does not even speak for himself, since he is not advocating impeachment, though the issue has given him the usual megaphone on the cable talkies instead of far more important matters.

Similarly, shame on Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), who immediately resorted to partisan attack and more trigger-happy calls for military escalation beyond the current policy. I agree with McCain that the decision should have been made sooner, but this is no excuse to resort to incendiary political rhetoric and rushed calls to military escalation.

I predict that U.S. military action will be substantially de-escalated within days, as the president says it will be. I think it will be. I believe it should be.

But let’s be crystal clear that this mission as executed followed a multilateral mandate from the United Nations and the Arab League.

And let’s be crystal clear that this mission has already accomplished one major objective: it prevented a mass slaughter of the Libyan opposition, which would almost certainly have triggered mass slaughters in other nations, which would have been a moral failure and strategic disaster for the United States.

This is why I support the president and this mission.