25 March 2011

Libyan Intervention and Risk of Fiasco

Very good discussion (audio files from Background Briefing) here.

While I believe the justification for intervention in Libya (however ill-timed) is, on the face of it, certainly much better than any possible justification for the second Iraq invasion in '03, I, like many other Americans, am deeply troubled by three things in particular:

1.  The notion that our country is somehow responsible to maintain order and prevent atrocities in other countries. This is a slippery slope, that has mostly had very counterproductive and negative outcomes in the past, especially with regard to the TWO wars in the Middle East in the last decade, NEITHER of which is over yet! (Yes, Afghanistan's original justification was to retaliate against and prevent further attack on the U.S., but that's long since crept into something entirely different, more like "nation-building").

2.  The concept that, even with the "cover" of U.N. or NATO mandate, the president can or should commit any part of the U.S. military to an action that is other than a direct defense against an attack on U. S. territory without the consent and participation of Congress. Yes, I am old fashioned. Yes, there's lots of precedent. But, look, the Constitution is clear, and Dennis Kucinich is right. This is unconstitutional, it is a usurpation by the executive of a power reserved to the Congress, and I find it deeply, deeply objectionable, regardless of whether it is a Democratic or a Republican president who does it.

3.  The double or triple standard for the "humanitarian" justification. It is unquestionable, to any sane person, that the humanitarian justification for intervention in the Congo right now, or the Sudan at any time in the last few years, is far better than any justification for intervention in Libya. Why, then, is it the U.S.'s responsibility, when even the Arab League and neighbor Egypt, which has F-16s and a standing army, stand idly by and criticize us, to intervene in yet another Middle Eastern country? I see this as more likely than not to end badly.

Moreover, although the history of these events has yet to emerge, it is widely reported that the president was persuaded to do this by Hillary Clinton, Samantha Powers, and Susan Rice, against the advice of the military advisors and Sec'y Gates. I don't claim to be an expert on geopolitics, but it seems to me if your military advisors and your S.O.D. are telling you, don't do this, you probably should think it over many times, and be very, very reluctant to do it, because they have a pretty good idea what's likely to happen if you do it, and they don't like it.

I hope and pray this ends quickly and well, but I fear that President Obama has made a terrible mistake getting our country involved in what is obviously poorly planned, lacking in a clear strategic objective or end game, and something that amounts to little more than a Hail Mary play when it was obvious the so-called rebels were about to be trounced.

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