Monday, March 21, 2011

Douthat on liberal warfare

1 comment:

Ryan Karerat said...

As much as I generally dislike Douthat, I thought this article was for the most part spot-on.

I would say that his assertion that mobilizing the international community means moving along at a 'glacial pace' is more right than wrong, but there should be a caveat there: in this instance, we moved so slowly not because the international community moved slowly, but because we moved slowly. A swifter response was always more possible but Obama only heeded the calls of the Susan Rice/Hillary Clinton/Samantha Power liberal intervenionist wing of the national security team very late in the game. Doing so forced the Benghazi rebels farther back and thus complicated the Western military mission (of which I was and still am in support).

As far as the politics of the war goes, it doesn't seem like the Administration has done the best job conveying what our goal in Libya really is. The problem with the Security Council Resolution is that it stops short of calling for what we ostensibly are angling for: which is removing Qaddafi. And therein lies the problem of relying too much on the rules of international cooperation to dictate military strategy.

Publicly announcing that we'll only be there for 'days and not weeks' is beneficial in the sense that it will comfort those wary of more Middle East military entanglment, but I also wonder if it's not hampering Operation Odyssey Dawn by announcing to Qaddafi that he only needs to wait out the Western missles for a couple of days (and thus play all-out defense rather than coaxing him into any offensives against the Western forces which would likely end in decisive losses for him) before getting back to business as usual. I'm not saying that's what's going on, but it's something to keep in mind. Right now I'm taking a wait-and-see approach before coming to any conclusions about the execution of this military operation, but it appears with Qaddafi's forces holding Adjabiya after the Western and rebel joint offensive that there's reason to be skeptical about what's going on there. If we're committed to being done with this in a matter of days, then any perceived victory for Qaddafi is extremely problematic.

Doesn't help that the Arab League didn't take long to show its true colors, either.