Libya is a different situation than Iraq and AfPak, and from a moral perspective, could justify intervention. The practical dimensions are such that our presence in Iraq and AfPak makes any effort, even a just one, incredibly complicated & difficult. In Libya, there's a whole portion of the country rebelling against a ruthless dictator who has been in power for 40 years. This is a guy who kills his own people, engages in terrorist acts against international countries, and the U.S. and the rest of the world was willing to give this guy a pass as he came clean on his nuclear ambitions. So the west opens up our oil markets, develops economic ties -- the U.S. even tried to supply him with armored troop carriers before Congress stopped it - and these troop carriers would have been used against the very rebels who are fighting this guy. So now we're faced with two choices - do nothing - an implied endorsement of the status quo - and query what happens to the West's relationship with Kadafi should he prevail (not to mention what happens to his people). Or do something, and risk getting into a really bad situation. I can't say I know what the right answer is. I'm also not suggesting that military intervention should our could lead to a democratic state such as ours. But I suggest it isn't as clear cut as you might think.
Monday, March 14, 2011
I've been in a dialogue with various folks about the moral prospects of intervention in Libya - most of whom oppose intervention on the basis of our past actions in Iraq and Afghanistan. One of my responses sums up my thinking on this issue nicely: