The Arab world is in unrest mode. Libya has fallen apart and the dictator is on the run. He is attacking his people and butchering them to keep power. Someone needs to step in and help. Who? Who do you help? How? Why?
It’s easy to say the U.S. should help the rebels. It’s easy to say we need to get involved, but not at the forefront. The problem is, no matter how you get involved, it is war. We have a history of getting involved, leaving, and then the people we go in to help can’t stand us later.
Barack Obama and the coalition have agreed to help. How? A no fly zone? We will help against the rebels and figure out how to defer leadership to the British, French or someone else? What are the military objectives? What are the political objectives?
The political objective should be a stable and democratic Libya. To do that the Qadafi must be kicked out. That is hard to do, and not necessarily one of our objectives. The military is a tool and needs clear military objectives to support our political objectives. We are operating without a clear political objective and even less clear military objectives. That is a recipe for a bad meal.
Barack Obama is demonstrating a great ability to negotiate and work on statesmanship. He is also demonstrating a pitiful record on military use. The military objectives in Afghanistan are unclear under Obama. This means we’ll be there for years and not know what success looks like. The military objective in Iraq is get out soon. I used to agree with that, but Iraq has shifted from a failed state to a fragile state. We, unfortunately, need to stay for years until it is much more stable.
We may mean well in Libya, but it probably will not turn out well. Will we ever learn? I doubt it.