Last month, the neocons thought they’d stumbled upon a gem of a gaffe from an anonymous Obama administration official, who was quoted in a New Yorker article as describing President Obama’s action in Libya as “leading from behind.” It turns out though that “leading from behind” isn’t really all that controversial considering that it’s a concept that even Nelson Mandela espoused.
But if Mandela and Obama authorizing a raid that killed Osama bin Laden (in what New Republic’s John Chait called “annals of mistimed propaganda,” the Weekly Standard had a cover story out the next day mocking Obama for “leading from behind”) haven’t quieted the right, perhaps the fact that one of their own praised Obama on Libya might do the trick. Talking with Fareed Zakaria in a taped interview that aired yesterday on CNN, Condoleezza Rice spoke highly of the President’s decision to allow U.S. allies to take the lead in Libya:
RICE: I think it’s good that others can take lead like the British and French. You know, NATO is not an alien being to us. We are indeed central to NATO. And so you can’t actually hand an operation off to NATO. The United States is too central and too much important part of its capability. And so we’ll see how this comes out.
That should pretty much close the book on the neocons’ criticism of “leading from behind.”