When Democrats join with neoconservatives like Bill Kristol on Libya, as well as Michael Barone who accused Obama of voting “present” on Libya, all I can see is the ghost of Iraq preemption dancing in my head.
Ms. Slaughter didn’t learn squat from her support for the Iraq war and its devastating results. Her op-ed in the New York Times today is remarkable, not only for the chasm in her much respected thinking of not gaming what can happen once we get embroiled in a country’s civil war, but for calling out Pres. Obama for “temporizing” on Libya.
No doubt Obama will want to squash her truth to power militaristic opinion like he did PJ Crowley on Manning, but Ms. Slaughter is now well out of his reach.
PRESIDENT Obama says the noose is tightening around Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi. In fact, it is tightening around the Libyan rebels, as Colonel Qaddafi makes the most of the world’s dithering and steadily retakes rebel-held towns. The United States and Europe are temporizing on a no-flight zone while the Organization of the Islamic Conference, the Gulf Cooperation Council and now the Arab League have all called on the United Nations Security Council to authorize one. Opponents of a no-flight zone have put forth five main arguments, none of which, on close examination, hold up.
IT’S NOT IN OUR INTEREST Gen. Wesley K. Clark argues that “Libya doesn’t sell much oil to the United States” and that while Americans “want to support democratic movements in the region,” we are already doing that in Iraq and Afghanistan. Framing this issue in terms of oil is exactly what Arab populations and indeed much of the world expect, which is why they are so cynical about our professions of support for democracy and human rights. Now we have a chance to support a real new beginning in the Muslim world ““ a new beginning of accountable governments that can provide services and opportunities for their citizens in ways that could dramatically decrease support for terrorist groups and violent extremism. It’s hard to imagine something more in our strategic interest.
Slaughter’s claim that it’s “time to act” would put the United States intervening in a country where a civil war is raging, when it’s been obvious for days that Gadhafi is likely to prevail.
But her most astounding claim is on labeling “Arab democrats.”
..Assuming that a no-flight zone can be imposed by an international coalition that includes Arab states, we have an opportunity to establish a new narrative of Western support for Arab democrats.
This assumes much more than is currently evident, especially when you look at Egyptian men and their reaction to women marching for their own freedom. There is also no evidence that any of the countries enjoying the Arab spring will end up secular, which is a prime tenet of “democrats.”
If the Security Council fails to act, then we should recognize the opposition Libyan National Council as the legitimate government, as France has done, and work with the Arab League to give the council any assistance it requests.
This is where militaristic interventionist Democrats always end up. When other countries refuse to lead the U.S. should always step in. This is the same thinking that made Democrats in the Senate jump on the band wagon for Iraq that led to more ill will inside the Arab world than we could ever predict, but also led to a economic quagmire from which we still cannot extricate ourselves.
If the U.S. engages to help the opposition Libyan National Council it should be as partners with the world and the Security Council, but absolutely under no circumstance with America alone in the lead.
Steve Clemons rebuts Anne-Marie Slaughter today as well.
After all we’ve learned, 20th century Scoop Jackson Democrats still want to write checks for war supporting interventionist policies the U.S. economy can no longer afford to cash.
As Sect. Clinton’s former Director of Policy Planning at the State Department, Ms. Slaughter knows very well what it takes to impose a no-fly zone. So her “fiddling” slam is extraordinary given her respected stature in Democratic foreign policy circles.
Of course, former Pres. Clinton also supports a no-fly zone, as does John Kerry and others on the Democratic side.
Pres. Obama doesn’t have much company on his side, which should make everyone nervous on what may unfold.
UPDATE: Sen. Dick Lugar become the first to say any no-fly zone should be accompanied by Arab nations footing the bill. Amen.
[…] Given the costs of a no-fly zone, the risks that our involvement would escalate, the uncertain reception in the Arab street of any American intervention in an Arab country, the potential for civilian deaths, the unpredictability of the endgame, the strains on our military, and other factors, it is doubtful that U.S. interests would be served by imposing a no-fly zone over Libya. If the Obama Administration is contemplating this step, however, it should begin by seeking a declaration of war against Libya that would allow for a full Congressional debate on the issue. In addition, it should ask Arab League governments and other governments advocating for a no-fly zone to pledge resources necessary to pay for such an operation.
This is not unprecedented. More than $50 billion in foreign contributions were received to offset U.S. costs in association with the first Gulf War in 1991. Much of this came from Saudi Arabia and Kuwait. …