US Handing Off Libya From Ourselves to — Ourselves

Those watching President Obama’s speech last night may have been puzzled by his references to transitioning to NATO, as if the United States were bowing out of conducting Libyan airstrikes.

In an Associated Press fact-check of the speech, Calvin Woodward explains (emphasis added).

In transferring command and control to NATO, the U.S. is turning the reins over to an organization dominated by the U.S., both militarily and politically. In essence, the U.S. runs the show that is taking over running the show. . . .

As by far the pre-eminent player in NATO . . . the United States will not be taking a back seat in the campaign even as its profile diminishes for public consumption [and] the same “unique capabilities” that made the U.S. the inevitable leader out of the gate will continue to be in demand. They include a range of attack aircraft, refueling tankers that can keep aircraft airborne for lengthy periods, surveillance aircraft that can detect when Libyans even try to get a plane airborne, and, as Obama said, planes loaded with electronic gear that can gather intelligence or jam enemy communications and radars.

The United States supplies 22 percent of NATO’s budget [and] the supreme allied commander Europe [is] a post always held by an American.

As for any grand speech on the part of the United States revealed in the speech, Daniel Nexon writes at Duck of Minerva via the Progressive Realist:

I might be wrong, but I don’t consider the “Humanitarian-intervention-against-militarily-weak-fossil-fuel-producing-countries-in-strategically-important-regions-that-are-also-located-near-many-large-NATO-military-bases-and-are-run-by-dictators-who-kind-of-piss-us-off-and-have-no-powerful-allies Doctrine” the stuff of Grand Strategy. But if you read between the lines, that’s pretty much the gist of what Obama had to say tonight.