Saturday, March 26, 2011

Why Libya?

I must admit that I wasn't watching the run-up to what seems to be a U.S. led military action against Libya. I think this was partly because the no-fly zone was being pushed by Great Britain and France. The U.S. seemed to be much less interested. China and Russia seemed ready to block any action in the UN. I thought enforcement of a no-fly zone, if it happened, would be led and possibly staffed primarily by other countries. I was surprised when the UN authorized the no fly zone and the U.S. took the lead.

I don't believe it is in the best interests of the U.S. to be participating in such a significant way in Libya. I'm surprised President Obama has allowed us to be drawn in and took the initial lead. I'm disappointed that he hasn't done a better job of explaining why he took these actions and I don't see indications that a successful outcome is likely.

I've always scoffed when opponents of military actions insist about a prediction of how it will end before we start. That's impossible. It is also a political stunt for opponents to insist on some clear statement of exactly why we shouldn't intervene in Bahrain or Syria since we have attacked Libya. Every situation is different.

It would be nice to hear the principles that guided President Obama's decision. I think they've given some: humanitarian support, the Libyan government was threatening mass reprisals against citizens, a chance to get rid of dictator who has caused problems around the world, there was support for action from other governments in the region, there was significant internal dissent and armed resistance, there was military assistance offered by other countries from within the region and outside, international bodies supported intervention and it was militarily feasible with acceptable risks.

I would like to hear, and probably won't, that the analysis for success is high, that there are groups and institutions in Libya ready to form a civil society, that whatever government comes after military success has a reasonable chance to be much better than the current government, that there is a chance for some form of democracy, that human rights and living conditions in the country will eventually improve and that the country will not be destabilizing in the region.

And, why is it in our national interests to remove Khadafi?

I think the President could have done a better job keeping us informed, but the fact is, he has made a decision and he will be responsible for the consequences.

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