Let me get this straight. Qaddafi is a really bad guy and bombs and airliner which kills a couple hundred people including many Americans over Lockerbie Scotland and we isolate him and even bomb him for provocative acts. We bombed his personal residence in a clear effort to kill him. At least that action was direct, clear and had a purpose that could be understood by all. We weren’t trying to nation build anything we were simply trying to destroy the inner circle of a bad guy. That action had support from the people and was generally seen as a necessary action. The usual suspects at home and abroad criticized it but those were minor voices in the wind. The international community also got the message that we had limits and there were consequences for those who pushed us too far.
We had taken similar action against Saddam with large international support and approbation. All of us didn’t agree with the announced purpose of the mission because some of us thought it too limited. You will recall that the purpose of that first Iraqi war was to remove Saddam from Kuwait and make sure he couldn’t threaten his immediate neighbors again with similar action. We would have welcomed his downfall and openly said so but that was NOT the mission. We accomplished the mission. We imposed the no-fly zone and had to keep it active for about 12 years. He did in fact slaughter a number of his own people in the south and far north who were trying to establish independence from Baghdad while we did not intervene. Some believed we should have marched onto Baghdad then and removed him but at least the mission was clear and was achieved.
We followed a familiar pattern in the Balkans and brought in air power very late in the day. The short-term mission was successful but the jury is still out on whether or not stability has been established in the Balkans. It has fragmented so much and the tensions there continue on a low boil. It is likely that all we did is create a future safe haven for yet to be al Qaeda wanna bes down the road.
Our surrogate in the region has from time to time bombed a number of supposed bad guys with a tacit approval. We always go “tsk, tsk” but never waver in our support for Israel. Not sure what that action has achieved in a positive vein over the years.
Qaddafi gives up his WMD and he becomes tolerable. Not our friend by any stretch but at least not an overt enemy and apparently did his part in keeping al Qaeda from becoming entrenched in that area. He remains throughout this time a complete whack job but we look the other way when he is out of line. What did we do when the Lockerbie bomber returned to a hero’s welcome? Although in fairness that was not our call but we could have shown more outrage. Muslims across the region have risen to oppose the current leadership from Egypt to Bahrain and back to Libya. We can’t be and aren’t sure who these people are and what it is they intend to create in the future. We sure know how everything worked out when the “evil” Shah of Iran was deposed in ’79. At least the Shah wasn’t threatening Israel every other day, building nuclear plants and overtly fomenting trouble throughout the region. The democracy movement in Iran has been a disaster for the US from a security standpoint. It remains a dangerous adversary.
It seems that bombs and bad guys go together. That should come as no surprise to anyone who thinks it through a bit. But before the bombs start falling it would be wise to know what it is we intend to accomplish and how realistic that goal can be. Many have no problem with bombing Qaddafi into oblivion but we need to assess what we would like to take his place. It might be a legitimate goal to simply have him removed and then let whatever the various factions are duke it out with each other to determine who will be the prevailing force in a post-Qaddafi Libya. On the one hand we repeatedly say that we are not picking sides. NATO takes the same approach. But the reality is that we are choosing a side in spite of the announced humanitarian purpose of the mission. Is Libya worth this effort?
If it is, then why isn’t the risk even higher in North Korea. We have a total kook running that country and it is a known threat to the safety of that region and the world. It already has nuclear capability and rockets to deliver those bombs quite some distance. The humanitarian need is even greater there than Libya if we are to believe our State Department and the international community. Il starves his people into submission and yet we give them food, not bombs for him and his regime. If bombing bad guys for humanitarian purposes is the new policy then why are we waiting to bomb North Korea? The whole world would clearly be a much better and safer place without that nut in charge. He sinks ships, fires artillery barrages onto friendly neighbors and nothing happens but verbage. I don’t care about a double standard necessarily but I do care about a standard that can’t even be articulated. In the real world we have to deal and accommodate bad guys on a regular basis, just be honest and say so. The people can understand that. That can’t understand how one layer on the onion is so much different for the hundreds of others right below it.
You should seek to have “ardor in virtue and confidence in truth” per S. Johnson. http://www.olcranky.wordpress.com