IS THERE A GOP LINE ON LIBYA?…. When it comes to the likely field of Republican presidential candidates, there’s been relative silence on U.S. policy in Libya. It’s almost weird how little these folks want to talk about it.
Perhaps the only candidate who’s been engaged in any detail is disgraced former House Speaker Newt Gingrich (R-Ga.), who looked pretty ridiculous saying he wouldn’t have intervened in Libya, two weeks after insisting that President Obama intervene in Libya.
But he’s not the only one. Here’s Mike Huckabee last week:
“It’s one thing to destroy air targets. I think the president is exactly right — we do not want to commit ground troops. We don’t have them to commit.
“We’re in two theatres of war now — Iraq and Afghanistan. We just don’t have any more forces available for any prolonged situation, at all.”
And here’s Huckabee this week:
“One thing you’d think would be common knowledge by now is that you can’t win a war with air power alone. You can bomb until the rubble turns to gravel, but at some point, foot soldiers have to go in and finish the dirty job. Ironically, foot soldiers may turn out to be the Achilles heel of the Libya operation,” Huckabee said. “For the rebels to regain the upper hand, might require the allies to either arm them — which backfired in Afghanistan — or put our own boots on the ground to fight Qadhafi on their behalf. President Obama has already said ‘no’ to both those options.”
So, what is it that Huckabee thinks, exactly? Air strikes are right, and ineffective? Use of ground troops would be a mistake, and is necessary?
Gingrich and Huckabee stand out for having contradicted themselves, but I’ve been trying to identify a GOP line on the conflict, at least among those seeking national office, and for the most part, these would-be Commanders in Chief aren’t even trying.
Haley Barbour offered some half-hearted spiel about “dithering,” but was reluctant to “critique the administration’s moves.” Mitch Daniels appeared on PBS and, before asking some general questions about the mission, said, “Indiana does not have a foreign policy.” Mitt Romney said he “supports” the mission, but not the president’s handling of the conflict, and then denounced “nuance.”
There was a point, not too long ago, when Republicans, especially those seeking national office, used to perceive international affairs and military policy as “their” issues. Now it seems as if the GOP is struggling to come up with anything coherent to say on the subject at all.