Yesterday, a friend of mine asked me, "Saf, why do you think we're specifically bombing Libya?" I gave it some thought.
If gas prices hit $5.00 per gallon in 2012, the possibility of Obama getting reelected is vastly diminished. The Obama team is well aware of this. This Operation "Odyssey Dawn" is about sending a message to rogue Middle Eastern & North African dictators. If you can't maintain stability (we prefer to call it instituting democratic reforms), you're outta there.
From what I understand, Libya has about a 2% stake in the light sweet crude market. Not a significant presence, but it could definitely cause long-term instability in the oil futures markets. This is diesel fuel which has a much larger role in Europe; hence, the return of our traditional allies (France, Spain, England). I thought it was curious that we are going to "hand over" the military operation to France. Maybe Obama could recycle the "Freedom Fries" nonsense from 8 years ago. Christ, it doesn't seem like it has been that long. In any event, if the European economy (which is already fragile) takes a hit, these days in the interconnected global economy, we'll take a major hit as well.
So what happens to Libya? Here's my best guess. Moammar Khaddafy (sp? - there are about a baker's dozen different spellings) retains power in Tripoli and maybe some worthless regions in the South. The U.S. has made it clear that killing Khaddafy is not integral to the mission. I suspect they'll partition Libya and enforce the new borders with NATO ground troops. The plan - maintain enough stability so gas doesn't go near the 5 buck mark just in time for the next election cycle. If it happens... there will certainly be a double dip recession. This translates into NO Obama... or Nobama.
The energy wars have always been with us, but with the fallout from the Japanese nuclear crisis and the Obama administration push for clean energy (EPA vs. the coal and gas states), this thing is going to heat up. The Republicans will embark on a unified message. And it goes something like this, Obama has no rational domestic energy policy and this results in a haphazard foreign policy. And he can't be trusted to handle the complex problems in the Middle East (because he's sympathetic to the desire for a Muslim caliphate). Safe assumption - parts of the Middle East and North Africa will continue to be hotbeds of instability and turmoil. Even if things clam down (doubtful), you can always portray them as turbulent.
If I'm Mitt Romney, I let the others (Palin, Gingrich, Huckabee) use the harshest "Obama is a Muslim" rhetoric. I stay cool, calm and most important, PRESIDENTIAL. Then, at crunch time, I tell the American public that I'm the jobs, energy and economy candidate. Let all the others duke it out for the extreme social elements of the Republican primary voters in Iowa. There will be a ton of candidates and no clear cut winner will emerge. Downplay the Iowa caucuses, head to New Hampshire and spend a shitload of money. But don't wait til Florida like Guiliani did (very foolish). By then, you haven't established any momentum. I suspect the more moderate Romney would do well in Florida with all the retired Northeast transplants. The interim South Carolina primary would probably play out much like Iowa - a diluted vote with no clear cut winner.
All in all, the Libya excursion is about looking down the road and trying to anticipate the future. And for most Americans, it's about the cost of gas. If it costs over $50 to fill up the Jeep Wrangler at Exxon, I don't have money left over for that Slim Jim beef product. I have to downgrade from Marlboro Lights to Basics. No Gatorade either, gotta save a dime and go with Powerade. It is these three consumer choices that could break the Obama administration. Tubed meat in a plastic sheath, quality cancer sticks with the accompanying breath stank and ion-replenishing sugar water. Not a good time for Obama to mention his affinity for arugula.
Do not be fooled. It has nothing to do with freedom, oppression and genocide. In the near term, it's ALL about oil. Nothing more, nothing less. Of course, you can always throw in those tag lines. And I suspect you'll hear them at-will during the forthcoming Republican debates. They're already laying the groundwork with this incessant theme of "American exceptionalism." It's going to be an exhausting refrain. Just don't be fooled.
One other observation. I think Obama secretly wants a challenge from the left wing of the Democratic party. Some anti-war liberal like Dennis Kucinich with no money and few resources would be ideal. Obama would quickly dispose of him. Much like Clinton disposed of Bill Bradley (D-NJ) back in 1996. Plus, it reassures the small number of undecideds that Obama is trending toward the center. Obama needs to appear hawkish on foreign policy. He wants that sustained war-time footing. No U.S. President running for reelection has ever lost during a time of war. If gas surpasses $5.00/gallon, Obama could prove the exception.
And I still think Obama dumps Joe Biden. Shake things up a bit - maybe bring on Ed Rendell (former Governor of Pennsylvania - very similar to Biden w/ the blue collar appeal, but far less gaffe prone). Plus Rendell has fantastic national exposure via cable news and represents the critical electoral votes in the underrated Appalachia. Watch for Rendell - A savvy political ploy to take back the center. We'll see.
I'll predict in 2012, the Obama/Rendell ticket squeaks out a tough campaign over Romney/Pawlenty. Of course the best way to secure an Obama victory... get a fiscal-hawk, social extremist Tea-partier like Sarah Palin to run as a third party candidate. She gets about 8% of the vote and screws the entire Republican party. How's that for irony? McCain created a Frankenstein. Except this Frankenstein has an insatiable ego and the ability to memorize and spout off about everything imaginable... except her daughter Bristol's baby being born out of wedlock. YOU BASTARD! (Think in terms of Braveheart where the two sides ignite their intimidation campaign prior to the Battle of Stirling). These days, we call it bullying.
Above all else, Palin wants to stay relevant and in the news. She could care less about her negatives. She just wants to maintain her coinage. Perhaps be a major player at the RNC 2012 convention. With such a display of overwhelming personalities (Romney, Pawlenty, and all the other bean counters), she would probably steal the show and possibly steer the national discourse on the classic social issues (abortion, gays and DOG). Maybe she could run on this sole, key issue - institute EVERY day as a national day of prayer. Doesn't only one day of prayer constitute a slap in the face to an omnipotent, omnipresent overseer? Seriously, all 365 days a year should be federally sanctioned as days of prayer and repentance. If it's only one day, a vengeful DOG will surely lash out with more environmental disasters. If DOG is indeed a merciful and caring DOG, we must do more to placate its monster ego.