Wednesday, April 13, 2011

Obama and Libya: Ideals vs Interests

From Raymond Ibrahim comes this great analysis of why Obama's plan for Libya is prone to failure.  There is no reason to believe the Obama administration will understand Libya, but you will after reading this piece.

From April 6 by Raymond Ibrahim

Ideals Trump Interests in Obama's Libya Policy 

President Obama's recent explanation for militarily engaging Libya is yet another example of how U.S. leaders increasingly rationalize their policies via sentimental and idealistic platitudes, rather than reality or the long view—or just plain common sense.

In a speech replete with moralizing intonations, Obama did manage to evoke U.S. "interests"—six times—though he never explained what these are. Instead, we were admonished about "our responsibilities to our fellow human beings" and how not assisting them "would have been a betrayal of who we are." Further, by juxtaposing America's "interests" with its "values"—Obama did so twice in his Libya speech—indicates that he may see the two as near synonymous, though they certainly are not.

The closest thing to a fuzzy "interest" that Obama posited is the need to contain Libyan rebels from fleeing to and disrupting nearby nations, such as Egypt, a country of "democratic impulses" where "change will inspire us and raise hopes"—so an overly optimistic Obama observed. While there certainly are liberal, secular elements in Egypt's revolution, increasing evidence—from an Islamist-inclined military that opens fire on its Christian minority, to the recent referendum which serves the Muslim Brotherhood—indicates that, left to itself, Egypt is poised to look more like Iran than America.

Obama during his Libya speech

Of course, the Obama administration is not against Islamists rising to power—so long as it is through the "will" of the people. As the Los Angeles Times put it, the administration "supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government." Even in his speech, Obama said the U.S. must support "the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders"; must support "governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people."  The underlying assumption is that people always choose liberal forms of governments—a demonstrably false notion: Nazis, Hamas, the mullahs—all came to power through the "aspirations of the people."

As for Libya's nebulous opposition, even before Obama decided to support them, the Washington Post had reported that "the administration knows little about Libya's well-armed rebels, [and] cannot predict the political system that might replace Qaddafi's bizarre rule." More recent evidence indicates that the U.S. is arming the same jihadists who four years earlier were trying to kill Americans in Iraq.

Yet Obama bypasses all these obstacles by engaging in moral posturing, asserting, for example, that a massacre in eastern Libya's Benghazi "would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world.  It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen."  Again, no clarification exactly how an intertribal massacre—regular occurrences the world over—is "not in our national interest."  Moreover, as Jihad Watch director Robert Spencer soberly puts it:
Eastern Libya [Benghazi], where the anti-Qaddafi forces are based, is a hotbed of anti-Americanism and jihadist sentiment. A report by West Point's Combating Terrorism Center reveals that during the last few years, more jihadists per capita entered Iraq from Libya than from any other Muslim country—and most of them came from the region that is now spearheading the revolt against Qaddafi.
Perhaps Obama simply sees the rebels as "freedom-fighters"—as a recent Examiner headline phrases it: "U.S. supports Al Qaeda 'freedom fighters' against Qaddafi in Libyan civil war."  If so, it is well to reflect that the U.S. has been down this road before, when it supported Afghanistan's "freedom-fighting" mujahidin against the Soviet Union in the 1980s, only for Afghanistan to become a terrorist haven and al-Qaeda's headquarters, where the strikes of 9/11 were devised.

Read it all

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