A liberal war in Libya

An interesting article posted at Politico this morning spells out President Obama’s position on the U.S. action against Libya: (1) the action is not aimed at defeating Kaddafi but is limited to protecting Kaddafi’s opponents from the slaughter he has promised to wreak on them; and (2) the action is limited to non-ground actions, with no U.S. military personnel entering Libya. The good side of this approach is that it may keep the U.S. from becoming directly responsible for Libya’s internal affairs. The bad side is that, as critics quoted by Politico point out, it could well lead to an unresolvable stalemate between Kaddafi and the rebels, assuring that the U.S. and its allies remain forever responsible for maintaining a balance of forces between them, even if from a distance. The stalemate flows from the fact that on one hand we will not allow Kaddafi to defeat the rebels, while on the other hand we will not participate in any action to defeat Kaddafi. It is textbook modern liberalism, precluding decisive action one way or the other to end the conflict.

Remember when Assad of Syria wiped out thousands of Muslim Brotherhood supporters in the city of Hama in the 1980s after they had threatened his regime? Suppose President Reagan had adopted Obama’s approach back then. He would have established a no-fly zone over Syria to prevent Assad from killing the people in Hama, but not taken steps to overthrow Assad. The U.S. might still be maintaining a no-fly zone over Syria to this day.

However, we don’t need to postulate a fiction in order to make the point. Our troops are still sitting in Bosnia, separating the Croats and the Muslims from the Serbs, to this day, sixteen years after the Dayton peace accords. Under modern liberalism, which opposes the idea of any party gaining power over another, because such power is a violation of equality, no conflict can ever be resolved—unless, as in Kosovo, the resolution is in favor of the Other and against our own civilization. But even in Kosovo, the peace-keepers remain.

In the ideal world of liberalism, there would be no self-governing, self-maintaining nations. The entire world would be ruled by peace-keepers permanently stationed in each country.

- end of initial entry -

March 20

James P. writes:

Suppressing Qaddafi’s air defenses and enforcing a no-fly zone will not stop Qaddafi from slaughtering the rebels. A no-fly zone did not prevent ethnic cleansing in Kosovo; NATO air forces had to attack Serbian ground forces and fixed targets in Serbia for weeks before Serbia relented. A no-fly zone did not prevent Saddam from slaughtering his internal opponents in the 1990s. Now that we have upped the ante, what are we going to do when Qaddafi’s forces start grinding the rebels under their tank treads?

LA replies:

I think you’re right. That’s the theme of the entry I just posted this morning. I said that my “Liberal war in Libya” entry last night was too optimistic.

Paul K. writes:

The possibility of a long drawn-out stalemate was acknowledged today:

Mullen says stalemate a possibility in Libya Reuters—
18 minutes ago

WASHINGTON, March 20 (Reuters)—Admiral Mike Mullen, the top US military commander, on Sunday said the end-game of military action in Libya was “very uncertain” and acknowledged it could end in a stalemate with Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi.

Posted by Lawrence Auster at March 19, 2011 11:44 PM | Send

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