March 30, 2011

Why Obama’s Libyan Adventure Is Already a Failure

Well, you may agree or disagree with the core argument of this article—it is high time to replace the U.N. Charter (and its obsolete procedures), in whose eyes North Korea, the most brutal totalitarian government in the world, is the equal of the United States, which has done more than any country in the postwar period to protect freedom and democracy, with international rules that encourage countries to end human rights abuses, fix failed states, and oppose rogue nations and terrorist groups, etc. But it’s worth reading anyway, in my opinion. In any case just let me know and we’ll fix it…

While Obama might claim success early on, given the vague mission of protecting civilians, we should not be fooled into thinking that an ongoing civil war represents a victory for American arms.Indeed, a prolonged stalemate would be a disaster. Wounded, vengeful, but undefeated, Qaddafi would pose a greater danger than ever. He could resume his practice of terrorist attacks on Western targets, working perhaps through jihadi elements such as the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, hundreds of whose members he has released from prison.
A protracted civil war in Libya could have effects beyond its borders. It could lead competing outside powers -- France, Turkey, or even China -- to back different Libyan factions. U.S. forces and resources would be tied down even as the United States seeks to wind down in Iraq and defeat a resurgent Taliban in Afghanistan. On the other hand, a premature exit would undermine American credibility in a region that already doubts Obama's steadfastness. Just as the administration's mishandling of last year's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico revealed its ineptitude in domestic matters, its mismanagement of the Libya intervention may become emblematic of its haplessness in foreign affairs.
The Obama administration's most glaring mistake in its approach to Libya is the central weight it has given to the United Nations. Hanging America's hat on U.N. approval has caused a mismatch between Obama's stated policy goal -- that Qaddafi must "go" -- and the limited means provided by U.N. approval for economic sanctions and civilian protections. Even at this early stage of the conflict, Obama's policy has created a large gap between U.S. strategic ends and U.N.-authorized means


The one positive in all this? If Libya at least brings about a rude awakening for the Obama administration on the follies of multilateralism and leads to the emergence of a new international security system, it will have done far more good than simply dragging the United States into a civil war.


  1. Totally agree with the article.

  2. Couldn't agree more. Thanks for posting this!

  3. Good point. What about this one?

    "You don't just walk up to the local bully and slap him across the face. If you are determined to confront him, then you try to knock the living daylights out of him. Otherwise, you are better off to leave him alone."

  4. Thank you Matt! I like Sowell's simplicity and straight up approach (a very expressive style!).

    "The old saying, 'When you strike at a king, you must kill him,' is especially apt when it comes to attacking a widely recognized sponsor of international terrorism like Colonel Qaddafi. To attack him without destroying his regime is just asking for increased terrorism against Americans and America's allies. So is replacing him with insurgents who include other sponsors of terrorism."

    Machiavelli couldn't have said it better...

  5. There are more and more sceptics, as is usually the case when one makes what is thought to be a necessary commitment. But Libya isn't an Iraq or an Afghanistan. It has a population of only 6,500,000.
    No one can sit idle and watch a megalomaniac divide and murder his own people just to hang on to his dated power.
    Any one who still supports such a tyrant with at least ten years to his credit of terrorist activities also deserves being rejected.
    There's no question that Europe or the US land troops in any case. Once the military has been discouraged enough times by air strikes, it will be over. The opposition forces must then decide for their own future. And one would hardly think that they would want to oust Gaddafi to replace him with an ultra-rigourous Islamic totalitarian regime either.
    It goes without saying that Gaddafi must go..