- Timetable: Some call Bush's response to 9/11 decisive, I call it impulsive. By going it alone and invading Iraq the way we did, we overstepped our bounds in a country that didn't want us there and completely alienated ourselves from the rest of the international community. While Obama received some criticism for taking so long to intervene in Libya, he recognized the fact that we needed to wait until a consensus was reached by the world that action needed to be taken. He was also smart in waiting for the invitation to arrive from the Libyan rebels before crashing the party.
- Coalition-building: Jon Stewart recently teased Obama for mentioning in his speech that we would be handing over the reins to NATO on Wednesday the 30th. After all, he's right in that our huge role in NATO means we'll still be fronting much of the bill on this one. Buuuuut NATO also includes pretty much the entirety of Europe, which means we're not only divvying up much of the liability here but also avoiding the PR disaster that comes along with (as Sarah Palin would say) going rogue.
- No points awarded for regime change: Nobody likes Gadhafi, but for shit's sake look what happened when we decided to oust Saddam. In Obama's 3/28 speech (transcription here) he admitted that "broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake." He even went on to say that "regime change [in Iraq] took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya." Our role is to prevent a genocide and hamstring Gadhafi's ability to bomb his people from the sky. Things get nasty when we start telling people how to set up a government.
- Truth hurts, but it's better than bullshit: Two lines from Obama's speech stand out to me: "given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action" and "America has an important strategic interest in preventing Gadhafi from overrunning those who oppose him." Yea, there was still plenty of soaring rhetoric in the speech, but it was still better than when Bush used to stand at the podium and pretty much recite crappy Toby Keith songs to an audience who wanted to hear all about how "freedom isn't free blah blah blah blah." Let's be honest, we all want to see the right thing done here, but Obama's job is to weigh morality against practicality. So, yes, part of the reason why we're spending a fortune to intervene in Libya has to do with the fact that it aligns with our own national interests. That has always been the case and always will be, only Obama has the balls to put it right out there.
So that's my two cents. For those who wish to see the speech and weigh in I have embedded the video below.