Here’s a reason you probably won’t hear to explain Obama’s reluctance to do anything substantive in Syria: his Libya policy is more and more clearly emerging as a big ugly flop, and it has made him gun-shy.The International Energy Association is now predicting serious oil supply problems in Libya, where the security situation continues to deteriorate. It also sees knock-on problems from Libya in neighboring countries—so much so that oil production in Algeria and Nigeria is likely to be seriously impacted over the next few years. The FT is running some damning quotes this morning:
“Increased violence by Islamist extremists and militants, against a backdrop of political instability across much of northern and west Africa since the Arab spring, is changing the equation for acceptable risks for international oil companies,” the IEA adds.The attack on the In Amenas gasfield in Algeria in January has, in particular, prompted international oil companies to review how they operate in Northern Africa. The recent spate of violence in Libya, targeting the oil industry, has further raised the alarm in the industry. “The situation [in Libya] is deteriorating quickly,” says the chief executive of a major oil company with assets in the country.
The cost of the Libya adventure isn’t a subject the MSM has much desire to pursue, but it continues to escalate. This entirely self-inflicted wound has almost certainly increased President Obama’s reluctance to engage in more “wars of choice.” We have no doubt that the President knows exactly what a mess was made there, and the experience has made him double down on caution.We don’t think prudence is a failing in a President, and Americans would probably be unhappy if they thought we had a cowboy in the White House itching to invade somebody. The mess in Syria, however, continues to be a tough call. But if anything, the situation there is getting worse, and we still think that showing weakness on Syria now invites bigger trouble with Iran not that far down the road.It looks more and more as if the “humanitarian hawks” in the administration had one chance, and one chance only, to bounce the President into a war; they picked the wrong one, and the price for this mistake is going to be high.[Frowning Obama photo courtesy Getty Images]