Regime change in Libya
Both the BBC and Al Jazeera are reporting that Muammar Gaddafi, who has ruled Libya since 1969, is still at large and that his forces still control at least 20% of Tripoli, the nation’s capital. Still, it seems that the end of Gaddafi’s rule is near which is indeed a great thing for civilization.
This past summer during a visit to Washington, DC, I spent an afternoon walking through Arlington National Cemetery and came upon the monument to Pan Am Flight 103, the plane destroyed by Libyan agents back in 1988. I post it as a reminder of why deposing Gaddafi is a good thing:
In remembrance of the two hundred seventy people killed in the terrorist bombing of Pan American Airways Flight 103 over Lockerbie Scotland 21 December 1988. Presented by the Lockerbie Air Disaster Trust to the United States of America.
On 21 December 1988, a terrorist bomb destroyed Pan American Airlines Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland, killing all on board and 11 on the ground. The 270 Scottish stones which compose this memorial cairn commemorate those who lost their lives in this attack against America.
5 Responses to Regime change in Libya
My problem is that while there is satisfaction in getting Qaddafi (if they do), it is what comes after that is a big unknown. While Qaddafi may be a person who has killed Americans (not just the PanAM flight, but that gasthaus in Berlin), he is also someone who gave up his nuclear program because we put pressure on him. In essence, a jerk, but one we have some current control over.
The future may well be someone who feels he needs to prove he is the top dog and the best Muslim. He may decide to prove it by doing things against the West. If that is the case, we are going to have to be ready to either accept his depredations or slap him down. There is the third way, which is to get Europe to deal with him, or the UN. When former Senator Russ Feingold recently said “It isn’t over until we win” (different context) he missed the point that evolution is alive and well in this world and it is NEVER over, since things change. One might get a short reprieve, but life goes on and new players emerge.
Sorry for the down note.
Regards — Cliff
I consider myself a foreign policy realist so I concur that what comes after Qaddafi may be worse than his most recent version. But our current involvement in Libya, whatever it is, was a response to the region-wide revolutions of the Arab Spring. In that sense, it was a case of the US exercising foreign policy realism to try to shape events that seemed to be happening anyway in a way most favorable to US interests.
I suppose we could have fabricated a bunch of phony intelligence showing that Libya was a bigger threat than it was, co-opted the media into going along with it, deceived the public to drive up supportive opinion polls, coerced opposing politicians by labeling them traitors, then invade with a force inadequate for the job, and prematurely proclaim “Mission Accomplished”, but we as a country don’t do things like that because it would be wrong.
But, at least such a move would have gotten some sort of an approval from the US Congress, the body which is supposed to make those “declare war” kind of decisions. But then Presidents have been ignoring the Congress, and the Constitution, from time out of mind. :-)
There were no good options with regard to Libya and the odds are we will take the short end of the stick for a while regardless of the outcome. People in that neighborhood can be very ungrateful. We help Afghanistan get rid of their Soviet invaders and then a short while later, in foreign policy time, they are hosting folks who want to attack us.
Regards — Cliff
Despite the weclome ouster of Gaddafi/Gadhafi/Qadafi/Qaddafi/Khadafy/Khadafi, Obama’s bombing campaign was still unconstitutional and thus illegal. Even if one accepts the War Powers Resolution argument, that 90-day window expired a while ago.
I’m not so sure the bombing of Libya can be explained in realist terms (unless the US knows it can install a new regime sympathetic with US “interests”.) Gaddafi was essentially contained and had given up his WMD ambitions earlier last decade. In supporting the rebels, the US is giving up the devil it knows and rolling the dice with a post-coup power grab.
On the other hand, I don’t think the bombings can be explained on idealist/liberal interventionist grounds because we know that human rights is not much of a priority for the Obama administration, as its support of the regimes in Saudi Arabia, Bahrain, Yemen, Tunisia (before support of Ben-Ali became untenable), Egypt (before support of Mubarak became untenable) and others demonstrate.
This military intervention is mainly about protecting European oil interests and European access to oil, thereby making them less depedent on Russian petroleum.
Cliff, remember Wheelus( U.S.)Air Base in Tripoli?