A provocative editorial on Religion and Ethics Weekly on Libya and the president's speech, from Professor Charles Mathewes, an Episcopalian and member of the House of Bishops' Theology Committee:
... The president was fierce last night. One of the people watching the speech with me thought he seemed “exasperated.” Certainly he was frustrated at the hysterical comments of left and right. It’s going too fast! It’s going too slow! More needs to be done! Too much is being done already! Obama seemed like nothing less than the parent, thin-lipped with barely suppressed anger, trying to deliberately, if a bit over-loudly, explain to the teenagers why they couldn’t have everything they wanted.
But I think “fierce” is a better word for his mood. He was not just communicating exasperation at the caterwauling of American politicians of the moral fiber of Newt Gingrich and the strategic profundity of Michele Bachmann. He was also communicating a deeper fury and profounder purpose to three other audiences: Muammar Qaddafi himself, who surely watched the speech; those people in Libya and elsewhere who want to know what the United States will do and what it won’t; and finally the US population as a whole whom, it seems, Obama wanted to reach with a somber and serious message—that United States military power, and its power as a whole, must be exercised with serious deliberation and never flippantly or through glib soundbites. But exercised it must be, and for aims that are overlappingly moral and political.
The lineaments of an Obama Doctrine—if that is what it is—were crisply sketched out. Work to prevent humanitarian catastrophes, for such catastrophes inevitably create further problems in the region and globally. But do so with a cold eye to the costs and consequences of varying degrees of US involvement, and always, always work to seek collaboration with allies wherever such collaboration is possible, both to strengthen the action and diminish the costs....
Read more here.