Asman: Obama Needs to Lead on Libya

Barack Obama is commander in chief. You may not like it, but in the chain of command, he's at the top. Every soldier and marine knows that, because every military manual starts with the chain of command. But we wonder if Barack Obama knows that. Because for the life of us, we really don't see our president acting like a leader about Libya.

The Libyan operation is an undefined mission without a leader. The operation may yet succeed at removing Moamar Qaddafi from power. We hope Qaddafi does go down. But without America taking the lead in the operation, the coalition to get rid of him looks like it's falling apart. President Obama takes every opportunity to deny that the U.S. is leading anything in this operation, and that we're going to hand off any role we do have as soon as there's someone to hand it over to. He even backed out of defining Qaddafi’s removal as the mission's goal...even though he earlier said Qaddafi had to go.

The implications of a super power like ours contradicting itself and running away from a leadership role in an operation like this are frightening. Already Arab dictators see our weakness as a green light to slaughter the opposition, as they're doing now in Syria. There are also signs that Arab leaders may be trying to pick another war with Israel to divert attention from their own problems.

We understand the reluctance of Americans to get embroiled in any other military operation in the middle east. We've got family of our own in that fight. But when the President of the United States calls for the removal of a dictator who's responsible for the murder of hundreds of Americans, we must act quickly and decisively to follow through with that order. That's part of being commander in chief.

When President Obama took the oath of office two years ago, we knew there would have to be some on-the-job training. But we really didn't think it would take this long to figure out that America should take the lead in any fight that we start.