The timeline of war (copied and pasted from 2003, with minor revisions)

Friday: President Obama warned Libya to halt the violence. Meanwhile, Secretary of State Clinton changed her mind and began to support intervention, claiming she “had the proof” of Arab League support.

Saturday: American and European forces officially began an incursion “to impose a United Nations-sanctioned no-fly zone and keep Colonel Qaddafi from using air power against beleaguered rebel forces.” Multiple administration officials assured the public that “the United States would step back within days and hand over command of the coalition to one of its European allies.”

Sunday: American officials again reiterated the limited scope of U.S. involvement:

White House National Security Adviser Tom Donilon said Libyan leader Gaddafi had “lost legitimacy” and was isolated but the focus of military action was on protecting Libyan civilians, not ousting the veteran ruler from power.

Defense Secretary Robert Gates, speaking as he flew to Russia, said the U.S. will not have a “preeminent role” in the coalition that will maintain a no-fly zone over Libya, and expected to turn over “primary responsibility” for the mission to others within days.

Meanwhile, the Arab League was already backing out. And suspicious bombings raised the possibility that enforcing a no-fly zone was not all the Allies had in mind:

As the assault unfolded late Sunday, an explosion thundered from Colonel Qaddafi’s personal compound in Tripoli, and a column of smoke rose above it, suggesting that the allied forces may have struck either his residence there or the nearby barracks of his personal guards. Unnamed Western officials were quoted in various news reports as saying the building was a military command and control center.

Admiral Mullen did not help to make the no-fly zone mission any clearer (emphasis mine), while undisciplined messaging coordination among the Allies threw doubt over the entire objective:

The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, Adm. Mike Mullen, spoke about how allied forces had grounded Colonel Qaddafi’s aircraft and worked to protect civilians — both objectives stated by the United Nations Security Council in approving the military mission. “We hit a lot of targets, focused on his command and control, focused on his air defense, and actually attacked some of his forces on the ground in the vicinity of Benghazi,” Admiral Mullen told Fox News.

But the campaign may be balancing multiple goals. President Obama, Secretary of State Hillary Rodham Clinton and British and French leaders have also talked of a broader policy objective — that Colonel Qaddafi must leave power. In his comments on Sunday, Admiral Mullen suggested that objective lay outside the bounds of the military campaign, saying on NBC that Colonel Qaddafi’s remaining in power after the United States military accomplished its mission was “potentially one outcome.”

Monday: A top French official conceded that the Libya mission, whatever it is, could take “a while.”

The rewording, prevarication, and general confusion surrounding all aspects of the Libya intervention could hardly be less reassuring.

And finally, one cartoonist perfectly captures the absurd inconsistencies here.


The good, the bad, and the ugly

The Good: The Egyptian people vote for constitutional changes.

The Bad: Israel and Hamas exchange fire. (Is this even news?)

The Ugly: The United States military has just attacked a third Middle Eastern nation.

Andrew Sullivan, over at The Daily Dish, is covering the ongoing events excellently.

Mike Huckabee keeps talking himself into a bigger hole

On the same day that he incorrectly claimed President Obama was raised in Kenya, FOX News personality and sometime presidential candidate Mike Huckabee also committed a Freudian slip that garnered much less public attention but showcased the same befuddling absence of logic. Referencing Natalie Portman’s allusion to impending motherhood at the Oscar ceremonies on Sunday night, Huckabee lamented, “People see a Natalie Portman or some other Hollywood starlet who boasts of, ‘Hey look, you know, we’re having children, we’re not married, but we’re having these children, and they’re doing just fine.'”

But it was his next comments that made the least sense: “There aren’t really a lot of single moms out there who are making millions of dollars every year for being in a movie. And I think it gives a distorted image…Most single moms are very poor, uneducated, can’t get a job, and if it weren’t for government assistance, their kids would be starving to death and never have health care. And that’s the story that we’re not seeing, and it’s unfortunate that we glorify and glamorize the idea of out-of-wedlock children.”

For someone occupying the more extreme fringe of the conservative movement, it seems a bit ideologically blasphemous for Huckabee to concede that, without government, disadvantaged children would not only be malnourished but would also not receive health care. Even excluding the very poor families that are eligible for Medicaid, this leaves plenty of financially struggling families, often unemployed due to the recession, who would have no health care at all under the (Republican-approved) old system.

Perhaps Huckabee should really think twice before campaigning for a job that requires a functioning brain, and stick to his day job with his far more lenient employer, where no such requirements are made of its employees.