I have no idea why we're involved in Libya. Does the president?
All I heard for the last eight years, especially from Democrats, is you can't go to war without an exit strategy, that we needed to announce a withdrawal date the week we entered a conflict. Well, what's our exit strategy? This is, after all, the president who felt the need to temper his troop escalation in Afghanistan by announcing half of them would begin coming home in exactly 18 months. I realize this is an idiotic way to run a war, but don't tell that to the Left. They think FDR should have announced an exit date the minute we entered World War II.
The fear now from most pundits is that stopping our assault on Libya without removing Col. Muammar Gadhafi (or is it Gaddafi... or Qaddafi?... this guy has more ways to spell his name than Hanukkah) will only embolden him and other tyrants around the world. Perhaps. Isn't that the reason we had to finish the job in Iraq? Wouldn't it have encouraged terrorists and would-be martyrs if we had allowed them to bully us into leaving prematurely?
Bush and Cheney said yes, and thus the surge was implemented, the one Democrats wrongly predicted would lead to our demise. It didn't, Iraq stabilized, and Obama and Biden are suddenly ready to take credit for our success there.
Have the Democrats learned their lesson from Iraq and suddenly switched to the neocon position? It's doubtful, unless Democrats have learned the wrong lesson.
In fact, Libya isn't Iraq. We aren't worried about weapons of mass destruction there (Gaddafi ceased his chemical and nuclear ambitions and allowed inspectors into the country after he saw what happened to Saddam Hussein). Nor does Gaddafi have a recent history of aggression against neighboring states. We haven't overthrown a regime there, and we aren't leading the reform of their government into a democracy. We certainly aren't battling factions of Al Qaeda in Libya, and might even be arming them by supporting the rebels. In fact, Muammar Gaddafi is quite contained by international standards when compared to other threats around the world.
Meanwhile, it's hard to say that folks like Ahmadinejad and Kim Jong Il haven't been emboldened by Obama's kowtowing already. Who's to say whether or not the Muslim Brotherhood or Iran isn't behind the rebel uprisings against Gadhafi? In fact, there is strong evidence to suggest they are connected. We could be emboldening militant Islam by helping them overthrow a dictator who hasn't been militant enough in instituting Sharia law.
Now I'm willing to argue we don't want that, as I think are most proponents for human rights, but the president seems reluctant.
If the goal is simply to enforce a No-Fly Zone in Libya and weaken Gaddafi's military, making it harder for his regime to assault innocent civilians, we have achieved our objective. Let's announce victory and focus on a containment strategy to keep Gaddafi in check. The real question is what to do in other Arab nations facing similar uprisings. Are we prepared to intervene to protect their civilians, in particular the brave demonstrators in Syria who are standing up to an authoritarian government unfriendly to U.S. interests and whose leader represents a proxy of Iran?
I get the feeling from the president's statements that we are only prepared to make war in Libya, and even there he has promised to do it nicely. Oh right. I forgot. This isn't war. It's kinetic military action. In truth, the only kinetic action seems to be the indecisiveness pulling America further away from a leadership role in the world and into international oblivion.