George Will Brings Up The Questions More People Should Be Asking About Intervening In Libya

Back on Feb 28, I wrote the following,

We Should Support The Libyan People, But Not With Our Troops

Muammar Gaddafi is a tyrant, he has American blood on his hands — and he’s just plain old evil. What will follow him in Libya is a mystery, but he’s such a monster, it’s hard not to root for his people to get rid of him. That being said, there’s a difference between giving the Libyan people moral support and sending in the troops…

…If there need to be boots on the ground, let some other nation — that’s not already being slandered across the world on a daily basis for doing the work of 20 countries — handle it.

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Nothing has happened since then to change my mind. If anything, the situation in Libya has gotten more chaotic and confused, even as more people on both sides of the aisle have called for the United States and other Western nations to intervene.

George Will, who’s thinking along the same lines that I am about Libya, has an excellent column out that asks questions more people should be asking before they advocate American involvement in Libya,

* The world would be better without Gaddafi. But is that a vital U.S. national interest? If it is, when did it become so? A month ago, no one thought it was.

* How much of Gaddafi’s violence is coming from the air? Even if his aircraft are swept from his skies, would that be decisive?

* The Economist reports Gaddafi has “a huge arsenal of Russian surface-to-air missiles” and that some experts think Libya has SAMs that could threaten U.S. or allies’ aircraft. If a pilot is downed and captured, are we ready for the hostage drama?

* In Tunisia and then in Egypt, regimes were toppled by protests. Libya is convulsed not by protests but by war. Not a war of aggression, not a war with armies violating national borders and thereby implicating the basic tenets of agreed-upon elements of international law, but a civil war. How often has intervention by nation A in nation B’s civil war enlarged the welfare of nation A?

* Secretary of State Hilary Clinton fears Libya becoming a failed state – “a giant Somalia.” Speaking of which, have we not seen a cautionary movie – “Black Hawk Down” – about how humanitarian military interventions can take nasty turns?

* The Egyptian crowds watched and learned from the Tunisian crowds. But the Libyan government watched and learned from the fate of the Tunisian and Egyptian governments. It has decided to fight. Would not U.S. intervention in Libya encourage other restive peoples to expect U.S. military assistance?

One more question I’d ask: How many American lives are we willing to lose to overthrow Gaddafi and help hold that country together? Keep in mind that to protect the oil there would probably require considerable numbers of American troops on the ground for quite a long time, which would likely lead to significant casualties.

My answer? None.

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