And today’s word from Washington is … stalemate

March 30, 2011

BRITAINCongress has it. Gaddafi wants it. And President Obama is trying to figure out how best to avoid it. What is it?  The answer: stalemate (noun \ˈstāl-ˌmāt\) … that unsatisfying state of affairs in which there can be no action or progress.

Admiral Mike Mullen, the four-star U.S. Joint Chiefs chairman, conceded the possibility of a stalemate in Libya way back on March 20, a day after U.S. forces and their allies started raining high explosives on Muammar Gaddafi’s military infrastructure and ground forces.

The acknowledgment raised worries that a stalemate would allow Gaddafi’s government to live to fight another day — in perpetuity – while delivering an embarrassing defeat to the U.S. and its allies.

The stalemate hobgoblin has haunted the U.S. debate on Libya ever since. The possibility is now increasingly palpable on the ground in Libya, where rag-tag rebel forces are demonstrating their inability to cope with pro-Gaddafi fighters, even as RTR2KFCB_Comp-150x150aircraft can be heard screaming overhead in prelude to the heavy thump of ordnance in the distance.

Obama and his advisers are said to be in a fierce debate about whether to arm the Libyan rebels in hopes of ejecting Gaddafi and avoiding a stalemate.

But Obama may face a more immediate stalemate threat at home. In Congress, the bombastic budget battle over government spending is not only pitting Democrats against Republicans, but Republicans against their newly minted Tea Party brethren.  GOP rising star Marco Rubio, a Floridian Tea Party favorite, says he won’t vote to raise the debt ceiling unless it’s the last vote of its kind and accompanied by momentous tax, regulatory and fiscal reforms.

Do these things speak of dialogue? Perhaps two little children shall lead them.

FINANCIAL/Meanwhile, where doth the light of progress shine this day?

House Republican Tea Party darling Michele Bachmann says she’s edging toward a decision on whether to run for president. Look for final word this summer.

If Bachmann were president today, there’d be no danger of a stalemate, at least not in Libya. That’s because she would not have intervened even after Gaddafi promised publicly to show no mercy to the rats/dogs/hypocrites/traitors (ie, rebels)  in Benghazi.

“I would not have gone in,” she tells NBC’s Today show. “I don’t think that at that point that we had seen the threat to the United States either from Gaddafi, or have we seen a vital American national interest at risk. That really needs to be our first line of defense.”OBAMA/

What about the value of showing American ”compassion” in the form of bombardment?

“Of course we have compassion for people. That is not the point. There is no more compassionate nation in the world than the United States of America,” Bachmann says.  But as for Obama using the U.S. Air Force and Navy to support humanitarian aid in Libya: “This is a marked difference from the way the United States military has been used before.”

Reuters Photo Credits: David Moir (Chess Pieces); Andrew Winning (Libya Air Strike); Official Handout (U.S. Senate Floor); Jason Reed (White House and Marine One)

Click here for more political coverage from Reuters

No comments so far

We welcome comments that advance the story through relevant opinion, anecdotes, links and data. If you see a comment that you believe is irrelevant or inappropriate, you can flag it to our editors by using the report abuse links. Views expressed in the comments do not represent those of Reuters. For more information on our comment policy, see http://blogs.reuters.com/fulldisclosure/2010/09/27/toward-a-more-thoughtful-conversation-on-stories/