Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Regime Change the Only Viable Solution in Libya

From Bret Stephens, at WSJ, "We're (Almost) All Neocons Now." After a primer on the surging popularity of neoconservatism --- from French President Nicolas Sarkozy to Princeton Political Scientist Anne-Marie Slaughter --- Stephens reminds us:

It's easy to forget that Iraq was a war many liberals—Joe Biden, John Kerry and Hillary Clinton among them—once supported, when they could bring themselves to hate Saddam more than they did the Bush-Cheney-Rumsfeld cabal. The latter passion overwhelmed the former for a few years, but eventually the initial logic of their position was bound to reassert itself in some similar scenario.

So it has been with Libya. The moment the Libyans revolted, the U.S. could not have remained silent without doing violence to bedrock American values. And so President Obama said Gadhafi must go. The moment Mr. Obama said that, the administration could not be indifferent to the outcome without risking the wrath of a vengeful Gadhafi, as well as a wider Arab audience that would have felt profoundly betrayed by empty U.S. promises. And so Mr. Obama crossed his fingers that the rebels would win, and win fast.

The moment Gadhafi turned the tide and threatened to massacre his opponents, the administration was bound to try to stop him for purely humanitarian reasons. And so Mr. Obama pressed for international action, even as he hoped the U.S. would not have to be directly involved. The moment it became clear that there would be no such intervention without U.S. involvement, the U.S. became involved.

Now the administration is again at a crossroads as it ponders what to do next. Sooner or later it will figure out that any road that doesn't lead to Gadhafi's death, imprisonment or exile is a cul-de-sac that can only mean the de facto partition of Libya, or Gadhafi's survival, or a long civil war from which the West cannot easily disentangle itself.

Put simply, regime change is the only viable option for resolving the crisis in Libya, a point most sentient observers are beginning to grasp. And regime change is only going to come about if the U.S. presses the matter. So why is the administration so reluctant to acknowledge the obvious?
Compare to Stephen Walt's, "What intervention in Libya tells us about the neocon-liberal alliance." Walt sounds more and more like a Paulbot. And he's long given realism a bad name. Not only that, his analysis is riddled with clich├ęs. The United States hardly wields its military like hammer, obviously, since untold nails of humanitarian crises remain un-pounded. Indeed, the lost souls of Rwanda haunt the conscience of the West today. Americans can't intervene everywhere, but that's not a likelihood anyway. Walt --- and the anti-military paleocons before him --- simply raves against robust U.S. engagement in the world. It's isolationist and morally bankrupt.


Old Rebel said...

So -- objecting to going even deeper into debt to pay for launching wars against countries that have not threatened us is morally bankrupt?

Do go on.

Anonymous said...

I read AP to try to comprehend neoconservative principles but I'm still grasping to find them.

Opponents of neocon's such as Ron Paul are disparagingly labels "isolationists". At the root, Rep Paul put's US national interests in front of international humanitarian interests. Another word for that is Patriot.