Monday, August 29, 2011

Libya Vindicates Obama? And Humanitarian Intervention?

I don't think the administration had a clue, but President Obama will get a lot of credit for toppling Gaddafi.

And this will generate a big debate among specialists in international relations. See Anne Marie Slaughter's piece, at Financial Times, "Why Libya sceptics were proved badly wrong":
Let us do a thought experiment. Imagine the UN did not vote to authorise the use of force in Libya in March. Nato did nothing; Colonel Muammer Gaddafi over-ran Benghazi; the US stood by; the Libyan opposition was reduced to sporadic uprisings, quickly crushed. The regimes in Yemen and Syria took note, and put down their own uprisings with greater vigour. The west let brutality and oppression triumph again in the Middle East.

This is the scenario many wise heads were effectively arguing for with their strong stands against intervention to stop Col Gaddafi. Over the months those analysts have reminded us of their views, calling Libya a quagmire. This week one of the leading proponents of that position, my friend and colleague Richard Haass, shifted gears – but only to remind us just how hard the road ahead in Libya is likely to be.

I do not know anyone, regardless of the side they took in the initial debate, who thinks this task will be easy; indeed, the battle against Col Gaddafi is not yet won. But not so fast. Before we focus on what must happen next, let us pause for a minute and reflect on that initial debate and the lessons to be learnt.
Keep reading.

Dr. Slaugther omits mention that Islamists could come to power in Libya, which in the end might not be much better than having Gaddafi. True, Muammar is about as bad as they come, and as I said all along in the case of Mubarak's Egypt, there's little satisfaction in standing up for a dictator. But the euphoria of the Arab Spring has long evaporated and a real security dilemma is emerging in the region that's forcing folks to reckon with change. Israel, of course, comes to mind, but a larger systemic transformation toward more widespread Islamism won't be good. It's already bad enough as it is.

More on this at Foreign Affairs, from Stewart Patrick, "Libya and the Future of Humanitarian Intervention: How Qaddafi's Fall Vindicated Obama and RtoP."


Norm said...

If anyone were to take credit it should be the leaders of France and Great Britain. I remember that they both had to put a lot of pressure on Obama, before he made any real committment. But I am that Obama, like the child he really is, will put up his long arms and try to grab credit for any success....anything.