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Somebody once told me that to get into the Air Force you had to prove you could blow up a balloon until it pops. It probably wasn’t true, but I get the idea. It would show you’ve got some of the right kind of nerves. There ought to be some way to make presidential candidates prove they’ve got what it takes to issue assassination orders against killer dictators and ignore occasional frowns from the Arab Street.

In the Army I was submissive. As a buck private I revered officers, feared sergeants and even saluted corporals. One day I was sleeping late (permitted after basic training if you worked the night shift), and suddenly I felt a tapping on my shoulder and heard a meek little voice saying, “Farber. I hate to wake you, Farber. I’m really sorry to bother you, Farber, but I’ve got to check the springs on all the bunks in the barracks. Would you mind getting up for a minute, please?” I slowly opened my eyes and there, obsequiously pleading for my forgiveness, was a LIEUTENANT! I felt like pointing toward the door and yelling, “Get out!” Obsequious and pusillanimous do things like that.

The rag-tag rebels, out-gunned overwhelmingly in every category, rise up and take Libya except for Gadhafi’s Tripoli stronghold. Libyan pilots sent by Gadhafi to bomb the rebels defect to Malta. Pre-Gadhafi Libyan flags mysteriously appear everywhere from out of nowhere. Libyans gleefully walk through Gadhafi’s white palaces, now shattered and blackened with anti-Gadhafi graffiti. The world cheers.

Everybody from the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff to whoever mops the cafeteria floor at West Point knows that there – then – right now – not later – is the time for civilization to slap a no-fly zone over Libya and hustle arms to the rebels. Well, President Barack Obama wanted to tend to a few details first. Ronald Reagan, the cowboy, once said, “Mr. Gorbachev, tear down this wall.” There are differences, however, between cowboys and community organizers. First, according to Obama, we needed a strong international consensus. How about the Security Council, the Arab League, NATO, the European Union, the G-8, the Illegal Aliens’ Protective League, the Pan-Scandinavian Goat Cheese Consortium – Does anybody know any other foreigners?

Gadhafi begins to recover consciousness from the rebels’ unexpected uppercut. His superbly equipped military, with armor that, in that same sand 69 years earlier, would have made British Gen. Bernard Montgomery jealous, rolls onto and over the absurdly under-armed and under-trained rebels. Does Washington move? Please, folks, first things first. We’ve got to lower the American profile down to the level of King Solomon’s mine-shaft, elevate the role of the Gadhafi-hating Arabs, make sure the French and the British appear to have thought up the whole thing by themselves and, oh yes, make sure the world knows there’ll be no American ground troops in Libya and that our no-fly participation and missile attacks on Gadhafi will last only “for a few days”!

When Gadhafi retakes almost all the territory held by the rebels and when the rebel plight begins to resemble an elephant dangling over a cliff with its tail tied to a daisy, then and only then do the saints go marching in; or, at least, flying over.

Obama’s buddy, Rahm Emanuel, once said, in effect, “A crisis is too important a thing to waste!” Somebody should tell him, so is a superpower.

When CNN says Obama is looking like a “reluctant warrior,” you know he’s become Ferdinand the Bull (that’s the Disney creature who could do everything bulls are famous for, except fight). And freedom-lovers who can never forget the abandonment of the Hungarian Freedom Fighters or the Cuban heroes at the Bay of Pigs have to listen to unending prattle about what a great job Obama did “building his coalition.” The two-week delay left dead by the roadside incalculable numbers of authentic Libyan heroes who rightly should have been celebrating in Tripoli.

America loves freedom, Israel and life. No Arab who doesn’t already hate us is going to start hating us because we want to rescue his brothers in Libya. And no Arab who hates us is going to quit hating us because we oh-so-cutely monkeyed with “America’s profile.” Give me the respect of a democratic superpower who openly impales evil, over image-adjusters with lace on their drawers whose futile peep that “America is just one small part of this!” is as subtle as a stuffed moose head.

Obama-Clinton declare “Gadhafi must go!” Gadhafi then uses the absence of “no-fly” to kill thousands of Libyans; at which point the message becomes, “Gadhafi must quit the killing!” All that “must go” just up and went. May I again borrow columnist Pete Hamill’s one-word summation of such situations?

“Beautiful!”

The man on TV on Sunday, March 19, the first day of the anti-Gadhafi clamp-down, said, “Apparently Obama is following in Reagan’s footsteps.”

The woman he was interviewing denied any such comparison. I wish she’d had time to borrow from Mark Twain; namely, “Comparing Reagan to Obama is like comparing lightning to the lightning bug!”

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