Thursday, October 20, 2011

On Libya VI

I just read through all of my previous posts regarding Libya.  I was reminded of my genuine sense of uncertainty and rising anger with getting our country involved, and I'm cool with that.  I wondered what our actual interests were.  I wondered how we would pay for it.  And I wondered if President Obama was really doing the right thing.  Well, in light of the report that Qaddafi was killed today, it's clear that Obama did, in fact, do the right thing (and I am so glad that Lady Luck was also on our, and the rebels,' side on this).

Of course, there will continue to be legitimate procedural questions (with Congress) regarding the manner in which we became involved with Libya, questions that deserve answers.  Yet, I think there is an argument that Obama's tactic of "leading from behind" was a very conservative, in the traditional sense, approach.  First, he made sure that all of the necessary actors are on board with U.S. intervention, particularly the Libyan rebels, the UN, and the Arab League, making sure all of those bases were covered.  Second, he shifted oversight, following the initial air strikes, to NATO, with the UK and France providing solid support to the rebels who called for help.  Third, he made sure that no American boots hit the ground on this.  Finally, he made it clear that the entire operation was simply support for the rebel forces, thus letting the rebel forces continue with their challenge of Qaddafi.  The result, as we now know, was the fall of Qaddafi primarily at the hands of Libyan rebels.  This seems to me to be an inherently conservative approach.  This approach actually helped the Libyan rebels to help themselves, and though we share in the victory of Qaddafi's fall, this, essentially was a Libyan victory.  We led from behind, and helped to empower agents of change.

That all of this could have gone wrong is obvious.  The same can be said of Obama's call to go after Osama bin Laden.  That action could have gone horribly wrong, but it didn't.  I am much more confident about President Obama's judgment on some of his foreign policy, than I was as this action began.  And I will continue to criticize, as I have done.  But, I just wanted to offer my congratulations to all who made this work, and I hope that the people of Libya will benefit truly from this change.

1 comment:

Better Guy X said...

As always, I applaud your insight, candor, and eloquence. If only in foreign policy so far, Obama has shown a level of evolution in collective thinking that we haven't always seen in the Middle East and North Africa. There are more trials to wade through, but his policy was correct once again on this.