In an interview with Univision Tuesday, President Obama re-defined the term “exit strategy,” and said our exit strategy in Libya would begin this week.
“The exit strategy will be executed this week,” President Obama said, “in the sense that we will be pulling back from our much more active efforts to shape the environment. We will still be in a support role. We will be supplying jamming, intelligence and other assets unique to us."
Planes in the air? Ships in the Mediterranean? Intelligence being provided? Doesn’t sound like an exit strategy at all.
What it does recall is Lewis Carroll.
"'When I use a word,' Humpty Dumpty said, in rather a scornful tone, 'it means just what I choose it to mean — neither more nor less."
From the beginning of this suddenly-announced military campaign, the White House has been making great efforts to under-sell the US role and emphasize the participation of European allies and Arab partners. Even those Arab partners like the UAE that ultimately didn’t contribute military assets as White House officials say they had been led to believe.
Last week the President said “the United States will contribute our unique capabilities at the front end of the mission to protect Libyan civilians, and enable the enforcement of a no-fly zone that will be led by our international partners.”
Yesterday, Defense Secretary Gates, talking about who would take over for the US and when, said, "this command and control business is complicated. We haven’t done something like this, kind of on the fly before. And so it’s not surprising to me that it would take a few days to get it all sorted out."