Malo periculosam, libertatem quam quietam servitutem.



March 2011

Obama's War

Written by , Posted in Foreign Affairs & Policy

So we’ve gone to war with Libya. Just like that. The President touts his international coalition, yet it is smaller than the one he and his liberal comrades criticized as meaningless in Iraq, which they falsely claimed was “unilateral.” Except unlike Iraq, there is zero strategic interest in Libya. While Saddam’s threat to the world was and remains debatable, there is no debate on Libya.  There isn’t a hint of argument that suggests Gaddafi constitutes any sort of threat against the US or the world.

What is our goal in Libya? The President has proven unable, or unwilling, to articulate one. Instead, we got this gobblegook, delivered from the President’s self-imposed exile in Chile:

The core principle that has to be upheld here is that when the entire international community, almost unanimously, says that there is a potential humanitarian crisis about to take place, that a leader who has lost his legitimacy decides to turn his military on his own people, that we can’t simply stand by with empty words, that we have to take some sort of action.

So the President’s core foreign policy principle is that violent, illegitimate dictators must face “some sort of action.” Not exactly a Monroe Doctrine. And given these criteria, why aren’t we at war in North Korea?

What will Obama do when Gaddafi digs in and rides out the missiles? What naturally follows “some sort of action?” Some other sort of action, I suppose. Or possibly some sort of backtracking.

And just who is in charge of this shindig, anyway? And, oh yea, there goes those budget cuts.

Perhaps the reason Obama seems unable to provide a strong purpose in Libya is that Libya itself isn’t really the purpose. The purpose is the revival of the Clinton-era doctrine of humanitarian intervention, which holds that the likelihood of US intervention to stop atrocities is inversely proportional to the presence of any US strategic interests. Libya, where the US has no interests and is not threatened, is thus the perfect test case for reviving this doctrine, even if the administration has to exaggerate the degree to which atrocities are actually occurring. The important thing is that Libya serve its purpose in showing that US interventionists have gotten their post-Iraq groove back.