At this time, so late in the day, I'm inclined towards ambivalence between classifying this decision D.O.A. (dead on arrival) or O.B.E. (overtaken by events). The odious Muammar Qaddafi is about to close exterminate his eastern opponents in Benghazi. One thing about Qaddafi: he's not a dithering intellectual, is he? But, as it always or often said, America often gets around to doing the right thing but not at the right time: always too little, too late.
So, for the last month, I've been burning to ask my readers, who lost Libya? And my regulars know I never ask a question unless I have a plausible answer. Who lost the chance to oust Qaddafi when he was hanging by a little more than threads?
My answer is George Bush, Dick Cheney, Tony Blair and Barack Obama have surged and splurged the Anglo-American military, economic, and diplomatic capital so deeply into the red in Iraq and Afghanistan that the unipolar prerogatives promised us in the 21st Century elude our grasp.
I am of two minds. I have always believed that American armed forces existed for defense of the realm. As John Quincy Adams said,
Wherever the standard of freedom and independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.However, in the past quarter century I have enthusiastically supported the full use of American military might
But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy ... she is the champion and vindicator only of her own.
- when international aggression had to be repulsed (Iraq's invasion and occupation of Kuwait) and,
- when ethnic cleansing forced thousands of civilians to flee across international borders (the wars of Yugoslavian dissolution). Both of these circumstances threatened regional international stability.
This air war over Libya may become Obama's only non-inherited and elective war. Perhaps by whacking on a little guy like Qaddafi so accessible as he is right on the shoulders of the Mediterranean maritime freeway between Southern Europe and North Africa, Obama can have his Grenada.
As I said, I am of two minds.
My second thought is founded on the need to shrink the pentagon budget to the extent that we drown our misguided Iraq and Afghan expeditionary occupations in a bath tub. When I hear advocates of intervention in Libya express opinions to the contrary, I'm convinced that we can't even afford taking cheap shots at Qaddafi. Just think what it will lead to. Take John McCain, who's never seen a war he doesn't like, before the Atlantic Council in Washington on Tuesday, for example:
Of course we have to have a no-fly zone. We are spending over $500 billion dollars, not counting Iraq and Afghanistan, on our nation’s defense. Don’t tell me we can’t do a no-fly zone over Tripoli.Add McCain's name to my list of Bush, Cheney, Blair, and Obama: this clique of myopic and spendthrift crusaders, together with their corporate sponsors, represent a far bigger threat to American national interest than does little Mo' Qaddafi from Libya.
I love the military, I love it, it’s been my life, but they always seem to find reasons why you can’t do something rather than why you can.