Libyan Intervention: Another Example of Rational Humanitarian Foreign Policy

Shares

I don’t write a lot about foreign policy, simply because I think there are far more intelligent and knowledgeable people out there writing much more cogent analysis, but it’s hard to ignore the reflexive criticism of all things Obama that comes from certain elements of the principled left.

Although I’m no longer surprised that some Americans seem to have a better grasp of events in Libya than reporters, government officials, those with access to military satellites and other international observers on the ground in Libya, it might make their case against WESTERN IMPERIALISM a bit stronger if they could back their assertion that the situation was “trumped up” by the US government.

I think it’s fair to say that Obama overstated the danger–but I’d suggest that was more the result of a lack of clarity about the situation than some grand, Western plot to rule the world. It turns out that moral clarity and perfect vision are much easier in hindsight.

It’s also pretty clear if Obama and NATO had not intervened, the same “principled left” would be accusing the West of discrimination in its disregard for Africa. The truth is that we waited too long in the Balkans and failed to intervene at all in Rwanda—two other situations in which early, decisive intervention would have made the difference. Obama didn’t wait, and as a result, prevented worse harm befalling the Libyan people.

And it was going to be bad, as Human Rights Watch’s Tom Malinowski notes:

[W]e should acknowledge what could be happening in eastern Libya right now had Qaddafi’s forces continued their march. The dozens of burned out tanks, rocket launchers, and missiles bombed at the eleventh hour on the road to Benghazi would have devastated the rebel stronghold if Qaddafi’s forces had been able to unleash them indiscriminately, as they did in other, smaller rebel-held towns, like Zawiyah, Misrata, and Adjabiya. Qaddafi’s long track-record of arresting, torturing, disappearing, and killing his political opponents to maintain control suggests that had he recaptured the east, a similar fate would have awaited those who supported the opposition there.

I don’t celebrate the death of anyone, but it’s hard to feel terribly sad about the fact that the Colonel is no longer in a position which allows him to torture and kill indiscriminately. Eventually, people rise up to  take down despots. It’s often ugly, even brutal, but it will happen—and I’d prefer a national security policy which works to prevent those people from being slaughtered.

In the end, the US and NATO did an admirable job. They used a relatively inexpensive mission which gave the rebels breathing room in which they could defend themselves against a despot. And then the people of Libya did the rest. We can’t know what kind of government or future Libya will have, but I think we can be sure that it will be better than the past two generations.

Following eight years of disastrous foreign policy, this was another sign that the Obama administration is simply far more competent when it comes to national security and military issues than the previous administration. In less than three years, he’s overseen the elimination of Osama bin Laden, led the effort towards killing of some of his chief deputies, drawn up firm plans to finally end Bush’s destructive war in Iraq, and done his best to navigate the complex issues of the Arab spring and its aftermath.

Certainly, Obama has made some mistakes and done some things that I absolutely oppose, but it’s hard not to see that his administration moving the US back towards rational national security policy based on both humanitarian need and national interest.

If you appreciate our efforts to hold Montana Republicans accountable and the independent journalism here at The Montana Post, please consider supporting our work with a small pledge.

About the author

Don Pogreba

Don Pogreba is an eighteen-year teacher of English, former debate coach, and loyal, if often sad, fan of the San Diego Padres and Portland Timbers. He spends far too many hours of his life working at school and on his small business, Big Sky Debate.

His work has appeared in Politico and Rewire.

In the past few years, travel has become a priority, whether it's a road trip to some little town in Montana or a museum of culture in Ísafjörður, Iceland.

44
Leave a Reply

avatar
25 Comment threads
19 Thread replies
0 Followers
 
Most reacted comment
Hottest comment thread
24 Comment authors
seo softwareJonelle SlegerLogan DominguezElois Gannksiegarnia Recent comment authors
  Subscribe  
Notify of
Dave Budge
Guest

Prudence requires that I wait to see what the new Libyan democrats do with their future. It’s pretty hard to call this a success (or failure) at this point until the consequences are realized. Just my humble (and expressly ignorant) opinion.

But one thing is true; one less Qaddafi in the world can’t hurt.

Rob Kailey
Guest

Dave, I think you’re misusing your words here. There was an inordinate amount of ballyhoo on the pLeft about how this administration was assisting NATO in regime change. SOS Clinton as much as said that the American objective was to remove Kahdahfee (no one can spell it satisfactory so why not just get phonetic?). I’d call the events of the last two days a pretty big “success” in that objective. A strong-man dictator is dead. I’m not happy with that, but assign most of the blame to an idiot thieving wealthy asshole who refused to leave the country when he… Read more »

Dave Budge
Guest

Well, Rob, I don’t think I misusing the word at all. It’s true that the objective was met as far as removing Qaddafi but I’m not sure if that was, in fact, the objective in which the endeavor was originally billed. Seems to me the objective was to protect innocents from the slaughter of a despot. So, to answer your question, I guess I would call success if the people of Libya can affect change that simply doesn’t replace one despotic regime with another. We won’t know for several years.

Rob Kailey
Guest

Though I think the American idea of ‘despotic regimes’ remains somewhat skewed, I do agree with you. However, neither of our complaints really alters the thesis of Pogie’s post.

Dave Budge
Guest

Alas, in the words of wise fellow I follow “where you stand depends on where you sit.” You know that I’m no hand-wringer seeing every American action as liberal democracy hegemony (read neoconservatism) and, to that extent, I can’t argue with Pogie. But I’ll stick to my guns that the outcomes either for the Libyans and/or America’s standing in world opinion have yet to be written. It often seems that no good turn goes unpunished, nes pas?

Rob Kailey
Guest

Why yes. But that wasn’t my complaint about your comment.

JC
Guest

Nice to know you taken on classic knee-jerk bashing of “principled left.” Makes it easy to dismiss pretty much everything else you said in your piece.

Do you teach your students to genericize their opponents as they prep for debate? Or do you just reserve those tactics for moments when “there are far more intelligent and knowledgeable people out there” to debate?

The Polish Wolf
Guest
The Polish Wolf

Wow JC, I know someone has a really strong argument against Don’s positions when they jump straight into speculative attacks on how he does his job.

JC
Guest

Don, if you’re going to disallow personal attacks by anonymous commenters, might you want to disallow personal attacks by named commenters and posters on the anonymous? Because if you don’t, you might as well just ban anonymous commenters here as well. You’re just using flame bait to invite commenters like myself in to get beaten up on, with no ability to respond in kind. Not hardly fair. Then again, maybe this is the tactic, to run those who criticize the center from the left out of the mainstream blogs. Afterall, that’s what Kaley did over at LitW. And I’m unable… Read more »

Rob Kailey
Guest

That is total and utter BS, “JC”. You were informed at LITW, quite clearly, that if you couldn’t accept disagreement, if you couldn’t handle the fact that there are those who accept and support Democrats, or websites that do so, if you couldn’t actually accept that you might be wrong then you should leave such venues. Your response was a mewling whine about how I should delete your account because you can’t face any of the above. Exactly how was that “censorship”, “JC”? It wasn’t. It isn’t. Yet somehow the world is unfair because others won’t do what you think… Read more »

The Polish Wolf
Guest
The Polish Wolf

Back on topic – It’s also useful to point out that regardless of what happens in Libya now, it is very, very unlikely to kill four thousands Americans or cost us a trillion dollars. When viewed objectively, Libya and Iraq posed about equal threats to the US (which is to say, a very low level of threat to us but a reasonably high threat to the people around them). For less than one percent the cost of the war and Iraq and without the thousands of casualties, Obama dealt with the threat. The fact that it worked is a demonstration… Read more »

Glory Murillo
Guest

*An impressive share, I just given this onto a colleague who was doing a little analysis on this. And he in fact bought me breakfast because I found it for him.. smile. So let me reword that: Thnx for the treat! But yeah Thnkx for spending the time to discuss this, I feel strongly about it and love reading more on this topic. If possible, as you become expertise, would you mind updating your blog with more details? It is highly helpful for me. Big thumb up for this blog post!

undelete fat32 files
Guest

We are a group of volunteers and opening a new scheme in our community. Your website offered us with valuable information to work on. You have done an impressive job and our entire community will be grateful to you.

undelete files linux
Guest

Its like you read my mind! You seem to know a lot about this, like you wrote the book in it or something. I think that you can do with some pics to drive the message home a little bit, but other than that, this is fantastic blog. A great read. I’ll certainly be back.

seo
Guest

Thanks, I have recently been looking for info about this subject for ages and yours is the best I’ve found so far.

seo
Guest

Hmm is anyone else encountering problems with the pictures on this blog loading? I’m trying to determine if its a problem on my end or if it’s the blog. Any responses would be greatly appreciated.

how to undelete deleted files
Guest

Hmm it looks like your blog ate my first comment (it was super long) so I guess I’ll just sum it up what I wrote and say, I’m thoroughly enjoying your blog. I as well am an aspiring blog writer but I’m still new to the whole thing. Do you have any recommendations for newbie blog writers? I’d definitely appreciate it.

hotels in amsterdam airport
Guest

Hey are using WordPress for your blog platform? I’m new to the blog world but I’m trying to get started and set up my own. Do you require any html coding expertise to make your own blog? Any help would be really appreciated!

Shanda Malesky
Guest

Couldn’t have said it better myself.

5k races in wisconsin
Guest

Does your site have a contact page? I’m having problems locating it but, I’d like to send you an e-mail. I’ve got some suggestions for your blog you might be interested in hearing. Either way, great site and I look forward to seeing it grow over time.

free poker games no money
Guest

Nice post. I was checking continuously this blog and I am impressed! Extremely useful information particularly the last part 🙂 I care for such information much. I was looking for this certain info for a very long time. Thank you and best of luck.

what is ayurveda
Guest

Unquestionably believe that which you stated. Your favorite justification seemed to be on the internet the simplest thing to be aware of. I say to you, I certainly get irked while people consider worries that they plainly do not know about. You managed to hit the nail upon the top and defined out the whole thing without having side-effects , people could take a signal. Will probably be back to get more. Thanks

Sterling Stelting
Guest

Many thanks for the art, previously interesting and compelling. I found my way here through Google, I am going to return once more 🙂

Petrina Petrin
Guest

Hi there, You’ve performed a great job. I’ll certainly digg it and in my view recommend to my friends. I am confident they will be benefited from this site.

ksiegarnia internetowa
Guest

I am usually to running a blog and i really appreciate your content. The article has actually peaks my interest. I am going to bookmark your site and maintain checking for brand new information.

ksiegarnia
Guest

*You made some decent points there. I looked on the internet for the issue and found most individuals will go along with with your website.

Elois Gann
Guest

I greatly appreciate this post. If it’s not trouble make another one…

Logan Dominguez
Guest

This is the right blog for anyone who wants to find out about this topic. You realize so much its almost hard to argue with you (not that I actually would want…HaHa). You definitely put a new spin on a topic thats been written about for years. Great stuff, just great!

Jonelle Sleger
Guest

Great post!

seo software
Guest

Hello! I’ve been following your website for a while now and finally got the courage to go ahead and give you a shout out from Atascocita Tx! Just wanted to tell you keep up the great job!

Support Our Work!

Poll

What would be the most appropriate nickname for Matt Rosendale?

Follow Us on Twitter

Subscribe Via E-mail

0 /* ]]> */