Friday, March 18, 2011

No-Fly Flypaper

The Colin Powell warning about Iraq ("You break it, you own it") is now evolving into a reverse version for Libya. But if we fix that, don't we own it, too?

Hillary Clinton, announcing fatigue and retirement before Obama's second term, is leading a gung-ho charge against the Libyan strongman.

“Qaddafi must go,” she says, calling him “a ruthless dictator who has no conscience and will destroy anyone or anything in his way.”

That's true (as it was about Saddam Hussein), but it's not the whole story, as Indiana's Richard Lugar, one of the last traditional Republicans, reminds the Senate Foreign Relations Committee:

"Clearly, the United States should be engaged with allies on how to oppose the Qaddafi regime and support the aspirations of the Libyan people. But given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame in a civil war, the strains on our military, and other factors, I am doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya."

In this topsy-turvy time for American politics, with Tea Party zealots out to shrink government, shouldn't we think twice about the U.S. resuming its role as "policeman of the world," as George W. Bush's Neo-Cons tried to do a decade ago?

If the UN intervenes in Libya after tolerating Qaddafi for so long, other nations, particularly in the region, should be leading the effort, as the new Egypt regime seems to be trying to do.

But the Obama Administration is moving inexorably toward military action, enough to satisfy the McCain wing of the GOP. After a briefing, Lindsey Graham is gratified:

"I want to take back criticism I gave to them yesterday and say, ‘you are doing the right thing.' My money is on the American Air Force, the American Navy, and our allies to contain the Libyans, and anybody on our side that says we can't contain the Libyan air threat--I want them fired."

Here we go again.

Update: Barack Obama is doing a George W. Bush impersonation, announcing the U.S. and its allies “will not stand idly by in the face of actions" that undermine "democracy" in Libya.

Such posturing overlooks the inconvenient fact that the U.S. and its allies have done just that all over the African continent for years now in places where "democracy" is as unknown it has been in Libya.

Wasn't there a candidate in the last election who warned about getting into "dumb wars?"

Update Update: American missiles strike Tripoli. “I want the American people," says President Obama, "to know that the use of force is not our first choice, and it’s not a choice that I make lightly. But we can’t stand idly by when a tyrant tells his people that there will be no mercy.”

This is not what most of us voted for little over two years ago.

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