The fall of Muammar Qaddafi at long last in Libya is a triumph for Europe’s New Reagans: And it puts to shame America’s old ones.
President Obama to his credit, went along with the NATO air support and bombing campaign to prevent Qaddafi using his foreign mercenaries, especially from sub-Saharan Africa, to crush the popular insurrection against him in oceans of blood.
Obama then what comes most naturally to him: He did nothing. He let himself be carried along — eventually and reluctantly — by two of Europe’s three new Reagans. They were Prime Minister David Cameron of Britain and President Nicholas Sarkozy. (The third is Chancellor Angela Merkel of Germany).
Now it’s fashionable among the endless fleas who masquerade as conservatives in 21st century Washington to sneer at Cameron and Sarkozy as supposed wimps. But as the Good Book says, “By their fruits shall ye know them.”
Prime Minister Cameron has pushed through sweeping 20 percent cuts in spending on the size of the British government. Thse are the biggest cuts the British government has experienced in 80 years since the 1931 financial crisis during the Great Depression. Even Margaret Thatcher never dared to go so far.
Cameron has pulled this off even though he is dependent on the support of the Liberal Democratic Party, successor to Britain’s old feckless liberals, for his parliamentary majority.
Now ask yourselves, when President George W. Bush was in office with a compliant Republican majority in the House of Representatives from 2001 to 2007, did see a slashing of government spending of anywhere near 20 percent? For that matter did we see any cuts in government spending at all?
We did not: The Federal Government grew at a feverish pace.
Things got far worse, of course, after President Obama took over and promptly quadrupled the already record deficit he inherited from President Bush. But they were pretty awful to start with. Prime MInister Cameron, if the British stop appreciating you, come over here. America needs you even more.
I also know it’s been a reflexive action among America’s so-called conservatives to sneer at France and everything French for decades. Pardon me if I barf.
It was French military aid that stopped Qaddafi cold in the mid-1980s when he was shamelessly trying to conquer Chad in sub-Saharan Africa. And why was Qaddafi so obesessed with Chad? Because it was rich in uranium ore — that’s why. But it was the intervention of a small force of French paratroopers sent by President Francois Mitterrand who stopped the Liberator of Tripoli in his tracks.
President Sarkozy, on the home front, has also shown the cojones that the past decade of House Republicans and the Bush II people sorely lacked.
The Tea Partiers are vital to the survival of our nation because, bless them, they are serious about slashing government spending and ending the potentially catastrophic Obama Spending Binge.
Newt Gingrich did what I thought at the time was impossible. He half-cooperated with and half-forced Democratic President Bill Clinton to rein in the federal buidget in the mid-1990s. Whatever mistakes Gingrich is making in his presidential campaign now, he deserves an honored place in true conservative ranks for the Mission Impossible he pulled off then.
But between Gingrich and the Tea Parties, when it came to fiscal responsibility to save American society and the federal government — No One – Nada. At least until Rick Perry: He seems born to play The Lone Ranger.
Now Britain and France have been far from virtuous over the years about Libya. As I’ve recorded before in these columns, Cameron’s prdecessor asprimem miuister, the sanctimonious Gordon Brown, the New Labour Party’s answer to Uriah Heep, pulled strings to release Abdelbasit Ali al-Megrahi, the Lockerbie bomber, just to please Qaddafi so British Petroleum could land a lucrative Libyan oil contract. British and French intelligence have even cooperated with Qaddafi against Islamists who are their mutual enemies in recent years.
But times finally changed. Prime Minister Cameron and President Sarkozy even followed President Reagan’s classic style in the way they used cautious, focused air power to stop Qaddafi in his tracks. As I’ve documented and discussed in my 2008 book “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East“, President Reagan was cautious, shrewd and often indirect in the way he kept the peace and skilfully used America’s clout to restore respect for Uncle Sam across the Middle East.
Cameron and Sarkozy, like Reagan, used air power.
Like Reagan, they used it carefully and with discrimination.
Like Reagan, they never committed their own ground forces, and they didn’t ask America to either: They didn’t have to.
Some readers will remember that I did advocate in these columns deploying American ground troops to knock Qaddafi for six — as British Field Marshal Bernard Montgomery, a lifelong cricket fan, would have put it.
But there was no way President Obama would ever have approved of that. The Andrew Jackson to George S. Patton and Colin Powell-Norman Schwartzkopf way of war is not for him, it never has been. We ‘ve seen that to our detriment in Afghanistan and Iraq.
The current president deserves full credit for keeping the US intelligence community focused on hunting down Osama bin Laden: But he still isn’t the man to fight a war a l’outrance – to the finish – as the French rightly put it.
Cameron and Sarkozy, like Reagan, cultivated allies skilfully in the Arab world. As I point out in Politically Incorrect Guide, Reagan even backed Saddam Hussein, the fearsome dictator of Iraq, to block Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini’s ambiitous efforts to conquer the entire Fertile Crescent for the Islamic republic of Iran.
Cameron and Sarkozy backed a wide coalition of forces in Libya. There may be some Islamists among them, but they appear so far to be dominated by the strongly Westernized middle class of Benghazi, the country’s main port, where Qaddafi’s vicious dictatorship was always widely and deeply resented.
The fall of Qaddafi is therefore a triumph for Muscular Conservative Policies in the best Ronald Reagan style. Two of Europe’s’ three Reagans led it and carefully directed it. The third, German Chancellor Merkel, didn’t get on board that bandwagon, but there are plenty of other reasons, especially fiscal ones, to thank the Almighty she still runs the Federal Chancellory in Berlin.
Cameron and Sarkozy have in fact done far more than topple Qaddafi. They have just shown that the cautious, focused and wise policies of President Reagan work as well in the Middle East in 2011 as they did 30 years ago.
The leaders of Britain and France have also shown that when America is led by a “leader” who will not lead, America’s allies do not always have to cringe in impotent fear. With the right leaders, they can step up to the plate and knock it out of the ballpark.
President Obama will bask in the reflected glory of Qaddafi’s fall: But all American conservatives should remember who was really responsible for it: And they should take heart that they are not alone in the world.
Martin Sieff is former Managing Editor, International Affairs of United Press International. He is the author of “The Politically Incorrect Guide to the Middle East.”