I've spent a little more time perusing the web for analyses on what we're doing in Libya and why we're there in the first place. The best explanation is that the "International Community" told us to go. They're the ones he consults, not the American Congress. Obama is more interested in what the UN has to say than his own country.
From the Telegraph:
Obama accepts the notion that an American imprimatur on military action is distasteful – running the risk of fuelling anti-Americanism. He seems reluctant to try to persuade nations that America is a force for good, perhaps because he is unsure of this himself ... Obama really does believe in the “international community” and the intrinsic goodness of the UN.From Slate:
(A) regime's level of violence against its citizens obviously doesn't drive our military decisions. Nor does the use of air power to slaughter civilians. What has drawn us into Libya but not Syria is the last thing Clinton mentioned: "The world has not come together" to call for action in Syria or the Ivory Coast. Fatalities and air power don't matter unless they produce international support for intervention.In short, Obama doesn't trust you. Your motives are impure and left to your own devices, you Americans would do bad, possibly imperialist things. If he wants to make a moral decision, he must turn to the UN and the "international community."
"Each of these situations is different," said Clinton. "But in Libya, when a leader says, 'Spare nothing, show no mercy,' and calls out air force attacks on his own people, that crosses a line that people in the world had decided they could not tolerate."
The key phrase isn't no mercy or air force. It's they could not tolerate. Not we, but they. We're outsourcing our standards for intervention.
Can we please make the dude the head of the UN and get him out of here? Maybe if he was offered the job, he'd leave.