The Libya Disaster
Josh Marshall has a first-rate analysis of why Obama’s decision to intervene in Libya, particularly now, is such a bad idea. Here’s what I think is the money quote:
A week ago a relatively limited intervention probably could have sealed the rebels’ victory, preventing a reeling Qaddafi from fully mobilizing his heavy armaments. But where do we expect to get from this now? It’s not clear to me how the best case scenario can be anything more than our maintaining a safe haven in Benghazi for the people who were about to be crushed because they’d participated in a failed rebellion. So Qaddafi reclaims his rule over all of Libya except this one city which has no government or apparent hope of anything better than permanent limbo. Where do we go with that?
We’re calling a time out on a really ugly situation the fundamental dynamics of which we aren’t in any position to change. That sounds like a mess.
Maybe we do this and then that rejuvenates the opposition and Qaddafi is gone in a week. If that happens, great. Egg on my face. But I doubt it.
Second, it’s difficult for me to distinguish this from an armed insurrection against a corrupt autocrat that looked to be winning and then lost. That sort of thing happens a lot. Only in very specific circumstances is there any logic for us to intervene in a situation like that. I’ve heard people saying well, we took too long to stop the ethnic cleansing in the Balkans and we didn’t lift a finger to stop the genocide in Rwanda, so let’s not make the same mistake this time. But these seem like preposterous comparisons. This is ugly and it’s brutal but a lot of people getting killed in a failed rebellion isn’t genocide. It’s not. And unlike situations where violence can destabilize the larger region, in this case our presence seems more likely to destabilize the larger region.