What happens when academics attack?
That is the question being answered as we watch the sorrowful spectacle of the allied military action against Libya unfold.
President Barack Obama, the former Chicago Law School professor who now commands the U.S. armed forces, has slapped together an operation so inept that it can only have been conceived in a classroom.
As David Brooks has noted, the alliance against Libya has no clear leader; it has no clear goal, and there is already bickering within the coalition.
There also seems no coherent rationale for the plan to quickly reduce the role of U.S. forces — by far the most capable of actually getting the job done.
This after weeks of indecision about whether to launch the attack at all, during which, at the very least, contingency planning should have been done to sort out these very things.
The indecisive, dilatory and disorganized manner in which this is being executed has all the hallmarks of academia.
The late William F. Buckley once said: “I’d rather entrust the government of the United States to the first 400 people listed in the Boston telephone directory than to the faculty of Harvard University.”
Now, this may, in part, have been an arrow aimed by Buckley, the Yale man, at a despised Ivy League rival.
But Buckley’s other point — to caution against the rule of philosopher-kings – has clear application to the Libya operation, which, sadly, may be on its way to becoming the Libya fiasco.
One critical mistake by Obama was not acting while the rebels had Muammar Qadhafi literally out in the rain — a month before the allies started bombing his forces and clearing the sky.
If President George W. Bush was “The Decider,” Obama is “The Deliberator.”
A fast-moving military situation on the ground begs for a man of action, not a professor who gets your exams back to you late.
But Obama is stuck thinking things through. And once he comes up with something, he is trapped by a professor’s commitment to theory.
The theory was that the United States must not act militarily until it has the imprimatur of the international community, and then it must only be one random - if important - player among many.
Previously, this was kind of a joke that everybody got: The allies pretended to be in a coalition, and Washington ran the show and did the serious work. But Obama took it seriously. (Continues here)