In Defense of Obama over Libya

It would be wise to feel some relief that President Barack Obama, on 19th of March, in a statement in Brazil, said: "I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.  That action has now begun."  Unfortunately, even though the use of force is the most prudent option now, Obama's main reason for doing is misguided.

Obama needs to take strong action against Gaddafi, in the national interest of the United States, for two main reasons.  However, there seems to be no unique case for intervention in Libya on purely humanitarian grounds.  The first reason is that Gaddafi has been a threat to US national security and our interests for over thirty years and, unlike all the other Arab leaders still in power; we have a strong and necessary case to - finally - oversee his regime change.  And secondly, the indecisive, weakened and feeble nature adopted by the Obama Administration, along with the perilous disposition Gaddafi seems to be adopting, compels Obama to apply a firmer stance against Gaddafi.

Does anyone share a sense frustration with people arguing for isolationism (in this-day-and-age) when it comes to regimes like Gaddafi?  Do they really not know who and what Gaddafi is?  If Gaddafi strengthens his power, there is no reason why he won't restart his WMD program, or seek them through other commercial foreign channels to be acquired when it suits him.  In fact, considering his recent Anti-American sentiments and his call for Libyans to oppose US "imperialist plot," I'd be surprised if he doesn't.  Jack Caravelli, in his recent book Nuclear Insecurity: Understanding the Threat from Rogue Nations and Terrorists (Page 98), describes how various states and regimes work together to achieve WMD aims:

Pakistan experts shared the secrets of uranium enrichment with North Korea. Once again Pakistani smugglers associated with Khan schooled their North Korean counterparts on ways to subvert and go around various control laws, touting Dubai as a particularly useful location to carry out such commercial dealings. Khan, an inveterate traveler, also journeyed to North Korea, frequently, much as he did in his work with Iran. Finally, as with Iran, the Pakistani assistance saved the North Koreas probably years of development effort. The Pakistan-North Korea relationship also highlights the exceptional difficulties of stemming the proliferation of weapons on mass destruction (WMD) when there is a confluence of equally strong if sometimes differing interests between two nations determined to carry out such transactions. Such was the case between the ruling factions of Islamabad and Pyongyang.

Putting aside the fact that this dictator is an impulsive murderer, he has an incredible track record against America.  Gaddafi is the tyrant of a resource-rich country (the largest oil economy in Africa) who has systematically funded and aided terrorist networks.  Some of these prominent networks have directed attacks against the United States.  It is with gratitude to the Bush Administration that we don't have to confront a nuclear Gaddafi today. In 2003, during and after the regime change in Iraq, Gaddafi declared that he would halt all WMD ambitions and open-up to inspections.  This should come as a relief given his re-emerging anti-American rhetoric.  But Gaddafi's abandonment of his WMD program was a sign of a shrewd attempt to avoid being under the heated surveillance of Washington, as opposed to a moral epiphany.  To conclude, the doctrine of isolationism has become dangerous in a post 9/11 world.  The United States must seek to pre-empt regimes from acquiring WMDs.

Gaddafi has been steeped in terrorism for many years - prior to 9/11 when he took a shrewd position of denouncing Al-Qaeda. Libya used to support and provide training to terrorists.  For instance, US President Ronald Reagan was forced to bomb Libya to curb terrorism in 1986, following the Berlin disco bombing.  The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing was in response to that in 1988.  Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, Former Justice Minister, revealed in February that Gaddafi had masterminded that bombing.  It is true that the Arab world is witnessing a "revolution." But this is not the "peoples' revolution."  Sure they're protesting in their thousands, and even dying on the streets.  But they'll have dictators as a product of Islam and its fascistic political temperament.  You need a political ideological shift to take place in the minds of the average voter.  Europe had undergone an Enlightenment episode to release itself from the clutches of absolutism and authoritarianism, and to begin to appreciate the ideals of freedom and the rule of law.  Facebook and twitter are no such substitutes.  Frankly, it's an insult to claim otherwise.  But you simply cannot deny that, unlike the rest of the Arab leaders who may or may not be US-allies, Gaddafi is a unique case that requires tough and decisive action.  Interestingly, David Frum has presented a forceful argument for intervention whereby the loss of Mubarak, Ben Ali and the weakening positions of King of Bahrain and Jordan undermines US and Israeli interests.  We would otherwise be left with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hizbullah as the last remaining strong groups.  This would have enormous negative geopolitical consequences, and, thus, cease to remain a burden to mere state citizens.

The Obama administration has tragically dithered and faltered with asserting a position on Libya that it has undermined Obama's strength in foreign policy.  Obama is moving in short-steps undecidedly and reactively to soothe public opinion; and it shows.  Obama lacks a real and solid moral justification and strategic reasoning for intervention.  This can only be translated as a weakness in the Obama administration by opponents, in the Islamic world, observing how Obama reacts to his first challenge.  The Obama administration could not decide whether to demand a "No Fly-Zone" - with Hillary Clinton supporting and Robert Gates opposing it.  In his speech on the 19th, he referred to civilian protection and yet his administration has been urging Gaddafi to leave.  That, on the other hand, is regime change. There is no "diplomatic solution" with a tyrant who'd sooner die than surrender; and take as many with him as he can. 

Further to this argument, after United Nations Resolution 1973 was passed Gaddafi explicitly said; "Our oil contracts are going to Russian, Chinese and Indian firms.  The West is to be forgotten."  10 countries voted in favour, zero against, and five abstained.  Those that abstained include Brazil, Germany, and India, China and Russia.  Libya, as I already mentioned, is the largest oil economy in Africa.  Dr. Kathryn Sturman wrote:

Libya is Africa's oil giant, with 44.3 billion barrels of proven reserves in 2010, compared with 3.7 billion barrels in Egypt and less than a billion in Tunisia. Global oil prices are rocketing and the energy security of EU countries, such as Italy, France, Germany and Spain will be threatened. Around 80% of Libyan oil exports are to Europe, 10% to China and 5% to the United States.

United Nations Resolution 1973 will bring about severe disruption of oil supply to the EU; and that carries heavy geopolitical implications - not only for foreign countries but all markets that rely on prices for oil and energy.  Already Libyan oil exports have been halted, Libya's main oil terminal set alight, with signs that the Libyan crisis hurting economies as "distant" as Thailand.  Depending on how Resolution 1973 is implemented, and for how long Gaddafi resists, this could spiral with costly and erratic havoc.  Thus, it is in the United States interest to ensure that in a post-Gaddafi environment, the energy problem is resolved with haste.

UN Resolution 1973 is permits "all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".  Clearly "all necessary measures" goes beyond no-fly zones, and Hillary Clinton confirmed this by saying that this "requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems."  This might encompass air-strikes against Gaddafi installations in Tripoli - such as his headquarters.  Since Gaddafi is willing to fight to the death, it is reasonable to assume that the UN Resolution encompasses a regime change.  And like Saddam Hussein, why shouldn't Gaddafi end-up tried in court.  Hadi Shalluf, President of the Justice and Democracy Party of Libya, has also recently called for Gaddafi to be taken to trial as a criminal.  The United States should seek positive regime change in Libya, and give Gaddafi to the courts.

Liam Ryan blogs at british-neolibertarian.blogspot.com
It would be wise to feel some relief that President Barack Obama, on 19th of March, in a statement in Brazil, said: "I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians.  That action has now begun."  Unfortunately, even though the use of force is the most prudent option now, Obama's main reason for doing is misguided.

Obama needs to take strong action against Gaddafi, in the national interest of the United States, for two main reasons.  However, there seems to be no unique case for intervention in Libya on purely humanitarian grounds.  The first reason is that Gaddafi has been a threat to US national security and our interests for over thirty years and, unlike all the other Arab leaders still in power; we have a strong and necessary case to - finally - oversee his regime change.  And secondly, the indecisive, weakened and feeble nature adopted by the Obama Administration, along with the perilous disposition Gaddafi seems to be adopting, compels Obama to apply a firmer stance against Gaddafi.

Does anyone share a sense frustration with people arguing for isolationism (in this-day-and-age) when it comes to regimes like Gaddafi?  Do they really not know who and what Gaddafi is?  If Gaddafi strengthens his power, there is no reason why he won't restart his WMD program, or seek them through other commercial foreign channels to be acquired when it suits him.  In fact, considering his recent Anti-American sentiments and his call for Libyans to oppose US "imperialist plot," I'd be surprised if he doesn't.  Jack Caravelli, in his recent book Nuclear Insecurity: Understanding the Threat from Rogue Nations and Terrorists (Page 98), describes how various states and regimes work together to achieve WMD aims:

Pakistan experts shared the secrets of uranium enrichment with North Korea. Once again Pakistani smugglers associated with Khan schooled their North Korean counterparts on ways to subvert and go around various control laws, touting Dubai as a particularly useful location to carry out such commercial dealings. Khan, an inveterate traveler, also journeyed to North Korea, frequently, much as he did in his work with Iran. Finally, as with Iran, the Pakistani assistance saved the North Koreas probably years of development effort. The Pakistan-North Korea relationship also highlights the exceptional difficulties of stemming the proliferation of weapons on mass destruction (WMD) when there is a confluence of equally strong if sometimes differing interests between two nations determined to carry out such transactions. Such was the case between the ruling factions of Islamabad and Pyongyang.

Putting aside the fact that this dictator is an impulsive murderer, he has an incredible track record against America.  Gaddafi is the tyrant of a resource-rich country (the largest oil economy in Africa) who has systematically funded and aided terrorist networks.  Some of these prominent networks have directed attacks against the United States.  It is with gratitude to the Bush Administration that we don't have to confront a nuclear Gaddafi today. In 2003, during and after the regime change in Iraq, Gaddafi declared that he would halt all WMD ambitions and open-up to inspections.  This should come as a relief given his re-emerging anti-American rhetoric.  But Gaddafi's abandonment of his WMD program was a sign of a shrewd attempt to avoid being under the heated surveillance of Washington, as opposed to a moral epiphany.  To conclude, the doctrine of isolationism has become dangerous in a post 9/11 world.  The United States must seek to pre-empt regimes from acquiring WMDs.

Gaddafi has been steeped in terrorism for many years - prior to 9/11 when he took a shrewd position of denouncing Al-Qaeda. Libya used to support and provide training to terrorists.  For instance, US President Ronald Reagan was forced to bomb Libya to curb terrorism in 1986, following the Berlin disco bombing.  The Pan Am Flight 103 bombing was in response to that in 1988.  Mustafa Abdel-Jalil, Former Justice Minister, revealed in February that Gaddafi had masterminded that bombing.  It is true that the Arab world is witnessing a "revolution." But this is not the "peoples' revolution."  Sure they're protesting in their thousands, and even dying on the streets.  But they'll have dictators as a product of Islam and its fascistic political temperament.  You need a political ideological shift to take place in the minds of the average voter.  Europe had undergone an Enlightenment episode to release itself from the clutches of absolutism and authoritarianism, and to begin to appreciate the ideals of freedom and the rule of law.  Facebook and twitter are no such substitutes.  Frankly, it's an insult to claim otherwise.  But you simply cannot deny that, unlike the rest of the Arab leaders who may or may not be US-allies, Gaddafi is a unique case that requires tough and decisive action.  Interestingly, David Frum has presented a forceful argument for intervention whereby the loss of Mubarak, Ben Ali and the weakening positions of King of Bahrain and Jordan undermines US and Israeli interests.  We would otherwise be left with the Muslim Brotherhood, Hamas, the Islamic Republic of Iran and Hizbullah as the last remaining strong groups.  This would have enormous negative geopolitical consequences, and, thus, cease to remain a burden to mere state citizens.

The Obama administration has tragically dithered and faltered with asserting a position on Libya that it has undermined Obama's strength in foreign policy.  Obama is moving in short-steps undecidedly and reactively to soothe public opinion; and it shows.  Obama lacks a real and solid moral justification and strategic reasoning for intervention.  This can only be translated as a weakness in the Obama administration by opponents, in the Islamic world, observing how Obama reacts to his first challenge.  The Obama administration could not decide whether to demand a "No Fly-Zone" - with Hillary Clinton supporting and Robert Gates opposing it.  In his speech on the 19th, he referred to civilian protection and yet his administration has been urging Gaddafi to leave.  That, on the other hand, is regime change. There is no "diplomatic solution" with a tyrant who'd sooner die than surrender; and take as many with him as he can. 

Further to this argument, after United Nations Resolution 1973 was passed Gaddafi explicitly said; "Our oil contracts are going to Russian, Chinese and Indian firms.  The West is to be forgotten."  10 countries voted in favour, zero against, and five abstained.  Those that abstained include Brazil, Germany, and India, China and Russia.  Libya, as I already mentioned, is the largest oil economy in Africa.  Dr. Kathryn Sturman wrote:

Libya is Africa's oil giant, with 44.3 billion barrels of proven reserves in 2010, compared with 3.7 billion barrels in Egypt and less than a billion in Tunisia. Global oil prices are rocketing and the energy security of EU countries, such as Italy, France, Germany and Spain will be threatened. Around 80% of Libyan oil exports are to Europe, 10% to China and 5% to the United States.

United Nations Resolution 1973 will bring about severe disruption of oil supply to the EU; and that carries heavy geopolitical implications - not only for foreign countries but all markets that rely on prices for oil and energy.  Already Libyan oil exports have been halted, Libya's main oil terminal set alight, with signs that the Libyan crisis hurting economies as "distant" as Thailand.  Depending on how Resolution 1973 is implemented, and for how long Gaddafi resists, this could spiral with costly and erratic havoc.  Thus, it is in the United States interest to ensure that in a post-Gaddafi environment, the energy problem is resolved with haste.

UN Resolution 1973 is permits "all necessary measures ... to protect civilians and civilian populated areas under threat of attack in the Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, including Benghazi, while excluding a foreign occupation force of any form on any part of Libyan territory".  Clearly "all necessary measures" goes beyond no-fly zones, and Hillary Clinton confirmed this by saying that this "requires certain actions taken to protect the planes and the pilots, including bombing targets like the Libyan defense systems."  This might encompass air-strikes against Gaddafi installations in Tripoli - such as his headquarters.  Since Gaddafi is willing to fight to the death, it is reasonable to assume that the UN Resolution encompasses a regime change.  And like Saddam Hussein, why shouldn't Gaddafi end-up tried in court.  Hadi Shalluf, President of the Justice and Democracy Party of Libya, has also recently called for Gaddafi to be taken to trial as a criminal.  The United States should seek positive regime change in Libya, and give Gaddafi to the courts.

Liam Ryan blogs at british-neolibertarian.blogspot.com