The Libyan situation and the UN resolution for a no-fly zone bother me on several points. The libertarian side of me is split between not wanting to get involved in foreign entanglements, and also wanting to apply Exodus 22:18 and say ‘sorceress, tyrant, tomayto, tomahto’. The part of me that likes flying and explosions is eager to see something start, but is tempered by the sober side of me that remembers Newton’s 3rd Law as applied to kinetic maneuvers: for each and every martial victory there is an equal and opposite martial defeat, usually in the form of a dead person.
What it fundamentally boils down to is a willingness to intervene on the part of those who are standing up against a tyrant – in essence, play the part of France in our Revolutionary War. From that perspective, France’s calls for intervention on the shores of Tripoli are not so out of place, though they are out of place with their recent behavior.
But before one chooses to do that, you have to contemplate the consequences. American air power, particularly the 1st Fighter Wing with their shiny, unbloodied F-22s, can outshoot and outfly anything and anybody. This means that whoever gets the benefit of our air power becomes much more likely to win in the end, and that means you are stuck with them as their obvious ally.
If it turns out that the revolutionaries in Libya are just as bloodthirsty and tyrannical as the tyrant they depose, there would be problems. If you support them and they lose (because you came in too late), you end up looking weak. On the other hand, if you don’t support them and they win anyway, they will not feel particularly inclined to open their country to your commerce. In a third case, suppose Zombie Colonel Qaddafi wins: then you have a situation where a tyrant who once backed down in the face of American strength now sees weakness and the ability to intimidate us into inaction.
This is all very much more complex than anyone cares to admit in political discussion, and I have seen no evidence to suggest that the CIA and NSA are providing the necessary information to the government that is of any better quality than that which was provided before the Iraq War. In other words, I see no improvement in our information level before a major decision is made. In light of this, I’m glad that President Obama is taking his time before committing American blood to the situation. However, he is being outmaneuvered by a much bolder opponent, who I think is (maybe) stalking him for the 2012 Democrat nomination – Hillary Clinton.
(As an aside, has any senior Cabinet official asked the Senate and House for their opinion on intervention? Or even considered asking?)
My biggest complaint against him, though, is that he won’t speak boldly for his position, whatever it is. If you think we should support the rebels, then come out and say it. If you think we shouldn’t, say that. In either case, support your argument with relevant facts, but don’t say nothing. The President is expected to lead, but he’s not doing that. Instead, he’s letting others decide the direction, and it will leave him with piss poor options when he finally makes up his mind.
And no one from either side of the argument will be able to say that’s a good thing.