A sinking feeling about Libya

Who would have guessed that at the mid-term of an Obama administration that was elected partly out of public frustration with the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, the United States would be embroiled in a third war in the Middle East?

Like the still smoldering conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, the U.S.-led attack on Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi appears to have no clear goals, exit strategy or link to our country’s national interests.

The administration says the primary objective is to protect civilians caught up in a civil conflict, but after President Barack Obama earlier expressed a desire for Gadhafi to leave, anything short of that could look like a failure.

Critics make a solid case that if we were going in, we should have done it a couple of weeks ago before Gadhafi reclaimed the upper hand from the rebels.

Now that we’re in, how long are we willing to stay if Gadhafi proves resilient? If the dictator falls, what role are we willing to play in Libya’s rebuilding? How do we justify squandering more of our national wealth blowing up and then reconstructing another Middle Eastern country while our own economy crumbles?

It’s difficult to detect enthusiasm for this new misadventure from any segment of the U.S. body politic; just disappointment that we can’t ever seem to learn from past mistakes.

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12 Comments on “A sinking feeling about Libya”

  1. Capitol -ist/WassupDoc Says:

    There are no re-wind buttons in life so sying that we should have done something different “back then” does not make any sense.

    What options in Libya would you select for today and tomorrow?

  2. zzzzzz Says:

    While I can’t argue about the lack of clear goals or exit strategy, there is somewhat of a link to our national interest.

    One could argue that it is in our national interest to have as many nations, especially Arab nations, as possible with secular, democratic governments. Would we be where we are in Iraq, for example, had they had such a government?

    Popular uprisings in places like Egypt and Tunisia seem to be headed in that direction. Allowing Gadhafi to brutally suppress the Libyan rebels would have a very chilling impact on any other such potential uprisings.

  3. eriana Says:

    I think that the fact is, if our allies like Italy and the U.K. (and France) who are helping us in Afghanistan (and other places) ask us to help provide air support and so forth, we are obligated to do so if we want to maintain their support. Let’s get real–we might not like going into Libya, but the U.S. isn’t leading the charge here. We’re supporting, the way that we have to.

  4. Guido Sarducci Says:

    If you are surprised by this, you haven’t been paying attention–ever. “Progressives” constantly get themselves elected and then become warmongers. Who is Lyndon Johnson?

  5. WooWoo Says:

    It’s just another example of our collective hypocrisy, which knows no ideological boundaries. We don’t want to be accused of standing on the sidelines while a grassroots uprising tries to throw off the shackles of a 40-year dictator, but we don’t want to risk blood or treasure. We want to think that we’ll help those who fight for freedom.

  6. Michael Says:

    “If everyone fought for their own convictions there would be no war.”
    — Leo Tolstoy (War and Peace)

  7. Carolyne Says:

    Well, here is the incredibly ugly truth about the entire situation. “Dubbya” lifted the sanctions against this madman in 2004 so his Halliburton friends could get in there and steal more oil money. I think we should have smelled the meltdown back when Carter put solar panels on the White House. Since the real crooks in this country haven’t figured out how to steal wind or sunshine yet, they’ll never allow the development of solar or wind turbine energy beyond where it is now.

  8. hugh clark Says:

    I am sorry Barack caved in, as he did with GOP earlier by extending W Boy’s tax break for the rich. Clearly neither Obama (a superior legal scholar and politician) nor W Boy (who majored in booze, baseball and coke) were great history students.

    Remember the admonition from George Washington’s farewell address about avoiding “foreign entanglements.”

    We need not be in Libya or Iraq. History is a great teacher — all too often ignored.

  9. David Says:

    We are already way beyond “foreign entangled” by G. Washington’s standards. Our “companies” are big multinationals where most of the work is done outside of our country. Our “industry” consists of importing things made outside our country (even the “Motor City” Detroit imports most of the parts for its “Imported from Detroit” cars). And, of course, our massive thirst for oil and other key ingredients of the modern world is still being satisfied by imports.

    Much easier for a primarily-rural nation (like the USA was in Washington’s time) to avoid “entangling alliances” than for a modern industrialized nation.

  10. Michael Says:

    “At least two-thirds of our miseries spring from human stupidity, human malice and those great motivators and justifiers of malice and stupidity: idealism, dogmatism and proselytizing zeal on behalf of religous or political ideas.” Aldous Huxley

  11. Kolea Says:

    I share Dave’s misgivings. I can understand the emotional sympathy for the Libyan rebels. So when I watched the UN Security Council vote go down, part of me was happy. How could someone NOT feel some degree of joy?

    But, the “no fly,” “protect civilians” policy is too unstable a formulation to survive the shifting imperatives of the situation. The rebels need to be armed. Some reports say the Egyptian military is already doing that. Along with the decision to arm comes the inevitable choice of which faction to arm nd what weapons to supply.

    There are a lot of attempts to explain the delay in Obama’s decision to go to war. The popular theory of the day is that Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Powers out-maneuvered Bob Gates and Admiral Mullen, creating conditions which gave Obama little choice but to intervene. I tend to think he held back in part because he was unsure of there being viable compatible opposition forces he felt comfortable helping gain power.

    I do note this is another example of the military being reluctant to launch an attack, but being pressured to do so by a wing of the civilian leadership. Under Bush, it was the neo-conservatives who provided most of the ideological justification and rhetoric. This time, with the Democrats, the language used is “humanitarian intervention.” But whatever the language, once a war is launched, it necessarily feeds certain structural imperatives or support drops away.

    Uner Republicans, the interventions are often justified as “imperialism for the sake of imperialism.” AKA “Because we are bad-ass and we want to.” Under the Dems, a more liberal “humanitarian” cover story is used. But the military contractors are rewarded with taxpayer dollars pouring into their coffers, the mini-military industrial complexes in every congressional district get a piece of the action and the forward deployment of US troops all around the world is justified.

    Seriously, folks. While I am not a fan of the American westward expansion over the North American continent, slaughtering “savages” in order to create “peace,” how does it make sense for the US to circle the globe searching for “endless enemies.” The Romans learned that expanding the borders of the Empire just established a longer frontier to police. We can no longer avoid recognizing that the United States has become an Empire, out to dominate, er, “police” the world. And, accidentally of course, enriching certain key industries, oil and armaments most obviously, in the course of operations.

    Which faction will we prop up in Libya? Which Karzai or Chalabi will we establish in the hopes they will gain credibility, surrounded by our (or NATO’s) bayonets?

    The Egyptian revolution recieved virtually no help from the Obama administration until it was obvious Mubarak was defeated. Obama “waffled” because he felt Mubarak was more predictably “pro-American” than what might come after him. As a result, the Egyptian revolution is more authentically their own. Whether it will survive the current military “transitional” regime is an open question.

  12. shaftalley Says:

    raw militarism.militarism is dishonorable.

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