The prospect of the United States intervening in Libya is uncertain. Yesterday, Secretary Gates and Adm. Mullen appeared to downplay the possibility of military action, while not clearly taking a position. But lost in much of the reporting is President Obama’s Executive Order declaring a national emergency, and the accompanying letter to congress, issued last Friday.
Obama claimed that the overall situation constituted “…an unusual and extraordinary threat to the national security and foreign policy of the United States.” Over at The Skeptics, I examine why it is a mistake for the president to lump together national security and humanitarian considerations:
Obama should be ashamed of this language. Muammar Qadhafi is a despicable man without basic decency, but this fuzzy rhetoric is wrong and possibly harmful. Not just a “threat” to U.S. national security, but an “extraordinary” threat? What would constitute a trivial threat or a non-threat, then? And what is the rhetorical purpose of adding the clause “and foreign policy” to the sentence? To fuse the argument about national security threat to one claiming that Muammar Qadhafi’s slaughter of his own citizens might influence our foreign-policy decisions, it seems. But writing in that way leads a casual observer to believe that the president is emphasizing what he believes to be a threat to U.S. national security posed by Libya, which does the English language a disservice. For some reason the phrase “giving the appearance of solidity to pure wind” is coming to mind.
I understand that the same clique of neoconservatives and New Republic people and other liberal imperialists who got us into the Iraq war are urging Obama to act and salivating at the prospect of accusing him of being “weak,” but even they did not use the sort of hyperbolic rhetoric that Obama did in his Executive Order and letter to congress.
Whole thing here.