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Foreign Affairs

The Libyan War

Admittedly I did not think that Tripoli would fall so easily and that Gaddafi would go into hiding without unleashing the deadly, poisonous weapons at his disposal first. Congratulations to the rebels on ridding their capital of a tyrant, and good luck to them in bringing him and his lieutenants to justice. It is good that the mad dog is now being hunted in the streets (or, rather like a rat, under them). From a purely tactical standpoint, overall the war in Libya was executed very well--we spent limited resources, endangered no American lives, and minimized civilian casualties in our bombings. However, because of our strictly limited involvement, Barack Obama and his supporters should not be claiming credit. Additionally, from a strategic standpoint, I still fail to see how destabilizing Libya serves our national interests and how this way of waging not-wars can help us in the future.

Already some have held this up as a viable alternative to President Bush's type of regime changes-- a validation of the so-called Obama Doctrine. Yes, without outside involvement, the rebels would not have been able to so quickly advance nearly as far as they have. But this means that we are in fact not engaging in regime change; we are supporting an insurgency against an already-established government, sitting on the sidelines and throwing them a few missiles now and then. Additionally, Libya was easy, and likely will not be repeated. First of all, Britain and France were actually very interested in being involved because they have direct material interests in the future of Libya; good luck getting the French to want to do anything else. Secondly, the Arab world is in a state of revolutionary shock right now and thus supportive of measures against Gaddafi. Third, the fight was against Gaddafi, one of the few remaining egocentrically insane thugs left on the planet and thus easy to rally against. Finally, there were a lot of people in Libya who not only hated Gaddafi but were pretty well-positioned to at least put up a fight.

Transpose this to Iraq and Afghanistan; totally different scenarios. This is not something we will be able to repeat. Regime change will not come so easily in places like North Korea, Iran, or Syria. Just look at Cuba! We've been trying this sideline business for a half century and Castro is still running the place. We got lucky in Libya. And even that is contentious-- I still think that the country is going to spiral into the turmoil of a civil war once Gaddafi is found, and there's still a possibility he won't be caught for a while and that he'll maintain a strong insurgency against the new government that the rebels throw together. Additionally, if a Gaddafi Loyalist insurgency or tribal war break out, the nation will be faced with a humanitarian disaster that we are already beginning to see the start of.

Finally, even if the Libyans did all get together and sing Kumbaya over Gaddafi's grave, and even if the NATO intervention could claim credit for that, it does not justify the way in which President Obama went about this. He has spent hundreds of millions of tax dollars killing people in a faraway land without authorization or supervision. He has interfered in the affairs of a foreign nation by actively aiding a rebel insurgency with the intentions of removing a head of state from power. He has shirked his responsibilities to the U.S. Constitution and the American people by doing this. Even if this does turn out well and it could be replicated (which is might not and it certainly can't), if I had to choose between the two I would still prefer President Bush's method of regime change as at least he submitted his plans to Congress for approval first, however tenuous his evidence was. Additionally, the Obama Doctrine has no applicable use anywhere that matters to U.S. interests. The White House and their supporters have nothing to gloat about; they cannot claim full responsibility for the rebel successes in Libya, victory cannot be claimed until stability is returned to that war-torn and starving country, and in the process of it all President Obama has launched a more egregious assault on the limitations of the Constitution than President Bush did with his various claims of war powers throughout his administration. How I wish the anti-war Left and Congress would stop letting him off easy.
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