An attack would be illegal and ineffective. It wouldn't satisfy hawkish critics, either.
The only real choice is between pushing for regime change and not getting involved. He should choose the second one
MICHAEL IGNATIEFF: "For all the talk about futility and perversity in interventions, it is well to remember that not all of them have failed."
The U.S. economy being what it is, it should come as no surprise that most Americans, including the minority with a keen interest in foreign policy, have been focused on domestic issues. What is less understandable is why that internationally-minded remnant should have been so concerned with events in Libya to the virtual exclusion of any other part of the world. This has been particularly true of mainstream liberals, and the media outlets that reflect their views, above all the New York Times, CBS, ABC, and NBC.
Four months after American submarines began launching missiles and U.S. pilots began flying sorties, does anyone, perhaps even including President Obama, really know what we are trying to do in Libya? It is true that, compared to Afghanistan, a major war whose outcome is generally agreed to hang in the balance, and to Iraq, from which we have not yet completely withdrawn, and even to Somalia and Yemen, where the tempo of our counterinsurgency operations have been steadily increasing, both directly and by proxy, Libya may seem minor.
What is it about international justice that impels so many intelligent and politically sophisticated people to spout so much utopian nonsense? Anyone doubting this needs to look at the statements that have been pouring like rain out of the United Nations, and out of the major human rights organizations like Amnesty International and Human Rights Watch, about the arrest of Ratko Mladic, the commander of Serb rebel forces during the Bosnian War and architect of the Srebrenica massacre, in which 8,000 Bosniak men and boys were murdered in cold blood.
Early in the summer of 1995, a colleague and I went into South Sudan to report from the side of the South Sudanese guerrilla army, the SPLA. At dinner on the day we arrived, completely out of the blue, one of our minders turned to me and said, “I am so sorry about this Gennifer Flowers.” I had expected to talk about many things in South Sudan, but the woman with whom Bill Clinton had had an affair in the 1980s was certainly not one of them. Not quite sure of how I should answer, I took refuge in sanctimonious platitudes.
Well, that was quick! It usually takes some time for the gap between how a White House justifies a military adventure to the public, and the reality of what is really going on to be revealed. It took the fall of Saddam Hussein for the Bush administration’s pretext for war—the threat of weapons of mass destruction—to be shown up as a fabrication. But from President Obama’s televised address on the evening of March 29, in which he claimed that the intervention in Libya was not about regime change, to the Reuters story revealing that he had signed an order allowing covert U.S.
Had the purpose of an air exclusion zone over Libya been solely to protect the people of Benghazi and of other insurgent-controlled areas in the east from being massacred by Colonel Qaddafi’s advancing forces, opposing it might still have made intellectual sense, but it would not have made moral sense, which is what should count most. Qaddafi had promised a slaughter in the evening before the United Nations authorized the Western intervention, and there was no sane reason not to take him at his word.
From a diplomatic point of view, the U.S. military’s Joint Forces Command did the incoming Obama administration no favors with the stark warning it issued in November 2008.