Questions for Libya Non-Interventionists

March 11th, 2011 at 10:42 am David Frum | 135 Comments |

| Print

George Will posed some questions for Libya interventionists the other day.  Here are some questions for non-interventionists:

* If Muammar Qaddafi violently suppresses the Libya uprising while America stands by, will Arab and Muslim opinion really believe that we were “neutral”? Or will they believe that we tacitly support Qaddafi – as they believed through the 1990s that we tacitly supported Saddam Hussein?

* What behavior can we expect from a Muammar Qaddafi who survives this uprising? Qaddafi turned to the West after 2003 because he was frightened by the overthrow of Saddam. Having crushed an uprising – and successfully defied an American president – which way will Qaddafi turn next? How confident are you that he won’t revert to terrorism, if not against Europe then against a newly volatile Egypt right next door?

* Iran crushed its uprising in 2009, with impunity. Hezbollah has seized power in Beirut. Hamas holds Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt. Who looks like the ascendant power in the Middle East today? Iran or the United States?

* How many Libyans will flee the country after the rebellion is crushed? Where will they go?

* If you are the king of Saudi Arabia, what conclusions do you draw from the fall of American ally Mubarak and the survival of American enemy Qaddafi?

* If you are the prime minister of Iraq, what conclusions do you draw from the apparent regional ascendency of Iran and the apparent decline of the United States?

* If you are the president of Syria, what conclusions do you draw from the success of Qaddafi’s brutal suppression of revolt?

* If you are the president of Venezuela and you lose an election, how will you react when President Obama tells you that you “must” honor the election results?

* If you are a Libyan insurgent and you are offered arms by international Islamist groups, do you say yes or no?


Recent Posts by David Frum



135 Comments so far ↓

  • Watusie

    I have a question for all the Republican interventionists. Well, two, actually.

    First, will you agree to take your threatened government shutdown off the table? Because it is not reasonable for you to ask the Administration to engage in a risky foreign adventure while at the same time threatening to cause chaos at home.

    Second, how do you propose to pay for this intervention?

    • Carney

      Watusie, in response to your second questions, wars are paid for partly by taxes, but especially by debt. EVERY war we have ever fought involved a huge run-up of debt. If it’s important enough to risk US lives over, whining about how to pay for it is just that, whining.

      In response to your first question, no matter what the political parties involved are, the only person who can, in the context of a budget dispute, shut down the government is the president, by vetoing an appropriations bill. Complaining that the appropriations bill in question has a level of spending you dislike is IRRELEVANT – it is the VETO that denies the government the money, and forces the shutdown.

      If Obama is truly concerned with keeping the government open (rather than pursuing the tired, predictable “Washington Monument strategy” of closing parks and monuments, denying visas for non-cancellable flights, etc., to produce camera-friendly sob stories about those mean Republicans) he can always SIGN an appropriations bill to keep the government open, then request a supplemental to pile whatever extra spending that he wants.

      • Watusie

        Carney, in response to your first response, “debt” is not an answer – how do you propose to pay for the debt?

        In response to your second response, I am dismayed that you would endorse the Republican plan to send more of our troops into harm’s way and then use that as part of a blackmail/extortion plan to get your failed economic policies put back into practice.

      • ottovbvs

        “wars are paid for partly by taxes, but especially by debt. EVERY war we have ever fought involved a huge run-up of debt. If it’s important enough to risk US lives over, whining about how to pay for it is just that, whining.”

        They are entirely paid for by taxes because ultimately taxes are required to pay down the debt. The problem is the people most in favor of these wars (ie. Republicans) are the people who are least in favor of using the tax system to pay for them and do an awful lot of whining about it a bit like you in fact.

  • Carney

    Excellent questions from Frum.

    • ottovbvs

      I didn’t realize you had a taste for such shallow questions Carney. They are almost all strawmen and perhaps the most hilarious of them is where Frum inadvertently admits what neocons have long denied namely that Iran is the regional hegemon and it is largely the consequence of the neocon policies of which he has been a leading advocate viz.

      Iran crushed its uprising in 2009, with impunity. Hezbollah has seized power in Beirut. Hamas holds Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt. Who looks like the ascendant power in the Middle East today? Iran or the United States?

      • Carney

        Otto, neoconservatives outdo no one in their hostility to the Iranian regime. In fact as soon as they propose firm action against it, folks like you seem to line up in A’jad’s defense. The only time to play up the Iran threat for “anti war” types is when it’s a useful club to attack Bush for having liberated Iraq.

        But the world’s a messy dangerous place, full of malefactors. The best you can do is deal with the most immediate threat at any given time, then move on to the next. Stalin was a big threat in the late 40s and beyond, but that was no reason not to cooperate with him in taking down Hitler.

        • ottovbvs

          “folks like you seem to line up in A’jad’s defense.”

          Where exactly did I line up in Ajad’s defense? Tell me? I just pointed out that as a consequence of the ill judged actions of the Bush regime one of the unintended consequences has been the emergence of Iran as the regional hegemon which neocons like Frum have been denying for years and now he inadvertently reveals this to be a fact. As it is of course. And you start talking about Hitler…the last refuge of losers.

  • ottovbvs

    * If you are the president of Venezuela and you lose an election, how will you react when President Obama tells you that you “must” honor the election results?

    Frum produces a laundry list of strawmen evil events that might or might not ensue if we don’t intervene in Libya of which the above is a typical example. Why not just change Venezuela to Russia or half hundred other places. Would he have us use our military/diplomatic muscle against all of them? Frum, despite the catastrophes in Iraq and Afghanistan which have cost him nothing personally, not even a modest tax hike to pay for them, advocates still more military adventurism with at least as many bad potential outcomes. I for one tire of his reckless stupidity when it comes to the exercise of US power.

  • odin1993

    If we didn’t unilaterally intervene in Sudan or Rwanda, which were both humanitarian crises as well as civil wars, why would we consider unilaterally intervening in Libya where by most accounts this is just a civil war?

  • chicago_guy

    Why the hell should I care what the King of Saudi Arabia thinks? Since when does America think “monarchy” is an acceptable form of government? He’s a grown man – if he can tell that the people in his country are unhappy with his absolute rule-making (which includes making protests illegal), he can modify his stance or pay the consequences.

    Here’s a question in return – given that we’re already bogged down in Afghanistan and barely out of our bog in Iraq, how are we going to manage having a potential THIRD situation in which we’re stuck fighting an enemy on their home turf, with allies who are less than completely trustworthy? How do we get back all the arms that we bring to north Africa once they’ve been taken by the locals and sold to pirates in Somalia and elsewhere (which will surely happen).

    Those calling for US intervention have a tendency to be people with the memory of gnats. The Libyan rebels are big boys, and presumably they have more public support than Qadaffi; let them win their own revolution and own their own country, and when they’ve won, we can support them with trade.

    • Carney

      Yeah, how did we ever manage to launch D-Day and the first large scale daylight bombing of mainland Japan on the same day, after having liberated Rome the day before?

      • Watusie

        Well, for starters, we had a universal draft and government spending was 53% of GDP….

      • ottovbvs

        By mobilising the entire resources of the nation, creating a 5 million man army, and creating debt that was over 200% of GDP. For someone who occasionally has some sensible things to say you do say some rather silly things at times

  • nikhil_gupta

    I have heard the argument, war is expensive, from Matt Welsh of Reason as well. Or as he puts it, “We literally cannot afford our foreign policy”, meaning American military dominance. I will say it so David Frum does not have to; if you think American military supremacy – with the security it provides to international trade , the protection it gives to smaller democratic states, the relative containment of China and Russia, and of course the security it provides from terrorist groups, – is too expensive, what exactly would you rather spend the money on?

  • nwahs

    Will the catastrophe in Japan take the world’s eyes off of Libya?

    • Carney

      No, because Japan, with the high IQ necessary for domestically produced wealth, advanced infrastructure, high social cooperation, low crime, and proper construction and disaster response, is less vulnerable to natural disasters and will have a low death count.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    If I actually thought that Frum would respond back, I’d take the hour or so necessary to answer his questions.

    I’d also point out that Frum’s questions aren’t a real response to Will’s. And that the status quo *should* be not to get involved unless there are pressing arguments in favor of us doing so — what the fracking King of Saudia Arabia thinks isn’t one.

  • AMurphy

    David,

    Richard Haass wrote it best

    “To say that U.S. interests in Libya are less than vital is not to argue for doing nothing, but rather for making sure that the actions we take are commensurate with the stakes. In the case of Libya, asset freezes, arms embargoes, threatened prosecutions for war crimes, and the creation of humanitarian safe harbors inside the country or just across its borders would be appropriate.”

    http://online.wsj.com/article/SB10001424052748703386704576186371889744638.html?mod=WSJ_Opinion_LEADTop

    • ottovbvs

      Nuanced responses that take cognizance of humanitarian issue but also pay heed to US interests aren’t in the Frum foreign policy playbook.

  • kuri3460

    Not the complete list of answers, but here are my thoughts of the top of my head:

    * If Muammar Qaddafi violently suppresses the Libya uprising while America stands by, will Arab and Muslim opinion really believe that we were “neutral”? Or will they believe that we tacitly support Qaddafi – as they believed through the 1990s that we tacitly supported Saddam Hussein? The real question is, where does moderate Arab and Muslim opinion of the United States currently stand after the events of the past decade, and is it possible for it to get worse? Furthermore, what can America really “do” to push Qaddafi out? Sanctions will cause him some pain, but as we know from North Korea and Iraq, sanctions alone aren’t enough to get the job done, and I highly doubt moderate Arabs and Muslims are in favor of US military involvement in a third middle eastern country. I don’t think Quaddafi’s surivival is much of a game-changer on the Arab street as far as public opinion towards America goes.

    * What behavior can we expect from a Muammar Qaddafi who survives this uprising? Qaddafi turned to the West after 2003 because he was frightened by the overthrow of Saddam. Having crushed an uprising – and successfully defied an American president – which way will Qaddafi turn next? How confident are you that he won’t revert to terrorism, if not against Europe then against a newly volatile Egypt right next door? Qaddafi may revert to implicit support of low-level terrorism – think individual suicide bombers – but is unlikely to direct any of this towards the west. Qaddafi is a survivalist above all else, and in the post 9/11 world, explicit support of terrorist acts against the west by the sitting leader of a middle eastern country is akin to suicide.

    * Iran crushed its uprising in 2009, with impunity. Hezbollah has seized power in Beirut. Hamas holds Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt. Who looks like the ascendant power in the Middle East today? Iran or the United States? Today, it’s Irarn. Unfortunately, American influence in the Middle East has largely been the result of our support for dictatorial regimes, which is untenable in the long-term. We’ve put the cart before the horse by propping up dictators who happened to be sympathetic to our interests. Somehow, we need to find a way to to maintain stability in the short-term while promoting moderate democracy in the long-term.

    * How many Libyans will flee the country after the rebellion is crushed? Where will they go? Unfortunately, once a leader reaches the point of insanity like Qaddafi has, there is no good resolution for the people. If he stays in power, people will be killed, if he’s forced out militarily, people will be killed. I don’t mean to sound unsympathetic but there is no good short-term outcome at this point.

    * If you are the king of Saudi Arabia, what conclusions do you draw from the fall of American ally Mubarak and the survival of American enemy Qaddafi? Since every country is in a unique set of circumstances, if I’m the king of Saudi Arabia I realize that I need to go out of my way to placate my people while simulataneous doing everything I can to maintain the status quo in US/Saudi relations. American consumption of oil is making me rich, and I (correctly) suspect that America will go to lengths it was unwilling to in Egypt or Libya to make sure it’s geopolitical fuel tank remains stable.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    What behavior can we expect from a Muammar Qaddafi who survives this uprising? Qaddafi turned to the West after 2003 because he was frightened by the overthrow of Saddam. Having crushed an uprising – and successfully defied an American president – which way will Qaddafi turn next?

    Otto, how the hell is this a strawman argument? Gadhafi ordered the blowing up of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie Scotland. He is a mass murderer of Americans. This is not the Ivory Coast. If Gadhafi survives he will have untold billions of dollars of oil wealth with which to cause mayhem.

    And yes, the humanitarian aspects are important, when young men rise up to fight tyranny these squishy liberals say…not my problem..I don’t care. There is certainly an element of racism against Arabs amongst these Liberals, as though young Arabs fighting for freedom from tyranny are not worth a second look.

    I am ashamed of Obama and his fecklessness. Clinton took out Milovesic based on purely humanitarian grounds. The genocide of the Kosovars and Bosnian Muslims was stopped. The Liberals here have learned the wrong lesson from Iraq. Their solution is to do nothing when literally lifting a mere finger (arsenal wise) would free Libya all because….well, my only conclusion is pure and unadulterated bigotry…or sheer cowardice.

    And when Gadhafi wins and he finances radical jihadists who care Americans these squishy liberals will say it is all Bush’s fault because….because of Iraq….yeah.

    I am a Democrat but a centrist. The reason Democrats lose is because they are f-ing wimps, so not only will Gadhafi win because of this, Obama will lose in 2012. I simply can’t vote for a feckless dithering President and the loss of Libya will haunt him.

    But yeah, take comfort in the fact that Obama will get 45% of the people because wimps only ever feel validated when they lose so they can play victim.

    • kuri3460

      Unfortunately, as a practical matter, America’s historical ability and willingness to strike against dictators on pure humanitarian grounds has a lot more to do with how many other wars we are currently fighting than anything else.

      I think it’s impossible to understate how much Iraq has altered American’s willingness and ability to intervene militarily in foreign countries.

    • ottovbvs

      “Otto, how the hell is this a strawman argument? Gadhafi ordered the blowing up of the Pan Am flight over Lockerbie Scotland. He is a mass murderer of Americans.”

      Unfortunately you’re showing a immature tendency to let your emotions get in the way of US interests and practicality. Ghadaffi is a scumbag I’d be happy to put few bullets in personally but that’s not the issue. And I don’t know if you’re the author of this little comment but if you are it’s comment enough on your maturity:

      “There is certainly an element of racism against Arabs amongst these Liberals, as though young Arabs fighting for freedom from tyranny are not worth a second look.”

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Nuanced responses that take cognizance of humanitarian issue but also pay heed to US interests aren’t in the Frum foreign policy playbook.”

    It would be a nice change of pace if, for once, David would just come clean and admit that his positions on Middle East policy are entirely oriented around what’s best for Israel. It’s not like this is particularly difficult to figure out, but he seems to think that by avoiding direct mention of this motivation, nobody will notice. The same goes for most of the rest of the Mid-East warmonger brigade.

    • ottovbvs

      if, for once, David would just come clean and admit that his positions on Middle East policy are entirely oriented around what’s best for Israel.

      It is painfully obvious, but he’s never going to admit it.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    Well, may as well go on the offensive, if you don’t feel like answering Will’s questions about intervening.

    I personally am divided about intervening, FWIW. I wish that there were a way to check Qaddafi and assist the rebels, without committing to a possible protracted war, and managing to launch a third quasi-occupation. I would gladly wish Qaddafi gone, but this is not a discussion of our wishes, it’s a very practical discussion. As Spencer Ackerman put it, we need to be mindful of what the goal of a no-fly zone would be. “Buying time for the rebels on the ground? Eventually taking out Gadhafi’s ground forces — which, after all, do the majority of the fighting? Staying until Gadhafi is overthrown?”

    Underlying Frum’s laundry list of genuine concerns and straw men is an unshakable belief that the United States is omnipotent and omniscient, and should therefore end the problem of evil with its benevolence. It was once thought to be a conservative insight that we live in an imperfect world, and government intervention cannot solve all problems. We don’t face a choice between good and evil, we face a choice between difficult, uncertain options. In that context, we should be extremely reticent about intervention. Because getting out is a lot harder and messier than getting in.

    Qaddafi turned to the West after 2003 because he was frightened by the overthrow of Saddam.

    You should really stop telling this blatant, obvious lie. He began reorienting to the West long before Bush Jr. came into office. See, e.g., this article from Foreign Affairs magazine in May/June 2001: http://www.foreignaffairs.com/articles/57032/ray-takeyh/the-rogue-who-came-in-from-the-cold

    * Iran crushed its uprising in 2009, with impunity. Hezbollah has seized power in Beirut. Hamas holds Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt. Who looks like the ascendant power in the Middle East today? Iran or the United States?

    Goodness gracious. International relations is not a zero-sum game between Iran and the United States. And “who looks like the ascendant power”?!? What are you, Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn? We make strategic decisions based on the merits of the issue at hand, not on the basis of wanting some momentum heading into NCAA Tournament season.

    * If you are the king of Saudi Arabia, what conclusions do you draw from the fall of American ally Mubarak and the survival of American enemy Qaddafi?

    Wait, remember ten seconds ago, when you typed that Qaddafi turned toward the West? How is this guy our “enemy,” then? And how do Yemen & Morocco fit into King Abdullah’s calculations? Anyway, if you’re the King of Saudi Arabia, you conclude, “don’t allow protests.” And they have: http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03/11/world/middleeast/11saudi.html

    * If you are the prime minister of Iraq, what conclusions do you draw from the apparent regional ascendency of Iran and the apparent decline of the United States?

    OK, you are going to need to spell out this “regional ascendancy of Iran” theory. They’re a Shiite government unpopular with their own population. The eyes of the Arab world really don’t look to Iran. And people who advocated the invasion & occupation of Iraq don’t get to wring their hands about “the apparent decline of the United States” that they caused.

    * If you are the president of Syria, what conclusions do you draw from the success of Qaddafi’s brutal suppression of revolt?

    Keep up with Saudi-style brutal suppression. But let’s be honest, that’s on the agenda there regardless of what happens in Libya.

    * If you are the president of Venezuela and you lose an election, how will you react when President Obama tells you that you “must” honor the election results?

    What? That has nothing to do with anything.

    This all comes from the misapprehension you’re operating under that US foreign relations are like the Green Lantern, and that if we just show enough will, we can do anything. (See: http://tpmcafe.talkingpointsmemo.com/2006/07/10/the_green_lantern_theory_of_ge/ )That really and truly isn’t how the world works. It’s substantially more complicated than that. We have a range of tools at our disposal, but we don’t get to fix the fate of the world’s people by looking at their presidents with our serious face. The fate of the Syrian people is not in American hands. The fate of the Venezuelan people is not in American hands. The fate of the Libyan people is not in American hands.

    * If you are a Libyan insurgent and you are offered arms by international Islamist groups, do you say yes or no?

    Of course they say yes. First off, how much difference is there between eastern Libyan insurgents & Islamist groups? (Genuine question, here, I don’t know). And even if there is a difference, when you’re really in need, you just don’t care about the views of your dealers. The mujahadin and the ayatollah were pleased to accept arms from Reagan, after all.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    TRS, so you are perfectly happy to watch Gadhafi slaughter hundreds of thousands of people when literally taking out his airforce would certainly turn the tide…

    Preventing Genocide is not warmongering, not preventing it is sheer cowardice. I am a progressive, I have spent the past 15 years working in the 3rd world to improve the lives of people.
    Kosovo and Bosnia are free states with rising standards of living. It was a sterling success.

    I voted for Obama but I am starting to hate him. He encouraged the rebellion by stating Gadhafi had to go. If he is going to be utterly indifferent he should have said from day one that he is not going to interfere no matter what so the Libyans who revolt are on their own.
    This is what the Chinese say, from an authoritarian mercantalist country I expect nothing.

    Base everything on narrow self interest, fine. But don’t remotely pretend it is the moral thing to do and don’t claim that my support of the rebels in Libya is in any way related to anything other than simple human decency and regard for others.

    • John Q

      Why should the US be the one to take out the Libyan air force and enforce a no fly zone? The Arab League has voted for a no fly zone over Libya, and between them they have significant air power. Aren’t they, rather than NATO, the logical group to undertake the creation of the Libyan no fly zone?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “There is certainly an element of racism against Arabs amongst these Liberals, as though young Arabs fighting for freedom from tyranny are not worth a second look.”

    That’s a pretty tortured reading of people who largely object to our intervention because of the number of Arabs who died the last time we tried something like this.

    “Their solution is to do nothing when literally lifting a mere finger (arsenal wise) would free Libya…”

    Gee, where have I heard this before? Let’s see…. 2002/2003 timeframe? Would you like exact quotes from our genious warmonger leaders about how much effort Iraq would require?

    I think I’ll take the word of the generals who are now wisely urging caution over your hype.

    “all because….well, my only conclusion is pure and unadulterated bigotry…or sheer cowardice.”

    The word you’re looking for is “prudence”.

    “I am a Democrat but a centrist. The reason Democrats lose is because they are f-ing wimps”

    So… you think it’s okay for us to potentially send several hundred or thousand more young Americans to die in the sands, and waste billions of dollars more at a time when we are telling the poor and middle class that they must tighten their belts.. because you want to show the world that we’re tough guys and that our president has lots of testosterone in his veins. Truly brilliant.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “TRS, so you are perfectly happy to watch Gadhafi slaughter hundreds of thousands of people when literally taking out his airforce would certainly turn the tide…”

    I wouldn’t be “happy” about it, no. Where is the evidence that “hundreds of thousands” are about to be killed?

    What about the hundreds of thousands who actually DID die the last time we engaged in one of these “simple” maneouvers?

    “Preventing Genocide is not warmongering, not preventing it is sheer cowardice.”

    Evidence that a genocide is underway is… where exactly?

    “He encouraged the rebellion by stating Gadhafi had to go.”

    Are you serious? Not only did he *not* say this until the rebellion was well underway, he received criticism for refusing to say anything like that in the early stages.

    ” If he is going to be utterly indifferent he should have said from day one that he is not going to interfere no matter what so the Libyans who revolt are on their own.”

    So wait… first you say he prompted the rebellion, then immediately say he’s not going to interfere? Did you consider that there might be ways to help the people of Libya *other than* more “shock and awe”?

    “But don’t remotely pretend it is the moral thing to do and don’t claim that my support of the rebels in Libya is in any way related to anything other than simple human decency and regard for others.”

    I don’t know you and I don’t know what your motivations are. I am not 100% opposed to helping the Libyan people, even militarily, *if it is done properly, after full consideration of the risks and costs*. I *am* 100% opposed to rushing in there based on emotional hysteria such as that seen in your post, combined with a deliberate underportrayal of the risks and costs.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    By the way, if Libya becomes free it will be just a matter of time for Algeria to do so, and then Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. Let Gadhafi prevail and you can be damn sure he will do everything he can to bring about the fall of Tunisia and Egypt. It would be in his self interest to make sure there are dictators there who will not bother him. The Arab spring will be remembered as the lost opportunity because feckless, cowardly Democrats could not seize history and support a POPULAR rebellion against a madman.

    kuri3460 in a single post said “but is unlikely to direct any of this towards the west. Qaddafi is a survivalist above all else” and later said “once a leader reaches the point of insanity like Qaddafi has”
    I mean wow, talk about self-contradictory.

    I truly am ashamed of Obama. He has lost my support and my vote.

  • Elvis Elvisberg

    [reposted w/o links to avoid moderation]

    Well, may as well go on the offensive, if you don’t feel like answering Will’s questions about intervening.

    I personally am divided about intervening, FWIW. I wish that there were a way to check Qaddafi and assist the rebels, without committing to a possible protracted war, and managing to launch a third quasi-occupation. I would gladly wish Qaddafi gone, but this is not a discussion of our wishes, it’s a very practical discussion. As Spencer Ackerman put it, we need to be mindful of what the goal of a no-fly zone would be. “Buying time for the rebels on the ground? Eventually taking out Gadhafi’s ground forces — which, after all, do the majority of the fighting? Staying until Gadhafi is overthrown?”

    Underlying Frum’s laundry list of genuine concerns and straw men is an unshakable belief that the United States is omnipotent and omniscient, and should therefore end the problem of evil with its benevolence. It was once thought to be a conservative insight that we live in an imperfect world, and government intervention cannot solve all problems. We don’t face a choice between good and evil, we face a choice between difficult, uncertain options. In that context, we should be extremely reticent about intervention. Because getting out is a lot harder and messier than getting in.

    Qaddafi turned to the West after 2003 because he was frightened by the overthrow of Saddam.

    You should really stop telling this blatant, obvious lie. He began reorienting to the West long before Bush Jr. came into office. See, e.g., the article “The Rogue Who Came in from the Cold” from Foreign Affairs magazine in May/June 2001.

    * Iran crushed its uprising in 2009, with impunity. Hezbollah has seized power in Beirut. Hamas holds Gaza. The Muslim Brotherhood is rising in Egypt. Who looks like the ascendant power in the Middle East today? Iran or the United States?

    Goodness gracious. International relations is not a zero-sum game between Iran and the United States. And “who looks like the ascendant power”?!? What are you, Jay Mariotti on Around the Horn? We make strategic decisions based on the merits of the issue at hand, not on the basis of wanting some momentum heading into NCAA Tournament season.

    * If you are the king of Saudi Arabia, what conclusions do you draw from the fall of American ally Mubarak and the survival of American enemy Qaddafi?

    Wait, remember ten seconds ago, when you typed that Qaddafi turned toward the West? How is this guy our “enemy,” then? And how do Yemen & Morocco fit into King Abdullah’s calculations? Anyway, if you’re the King of Saudi Arabia, you conclude, “don’t allow protests.” And they have.

    * If you are the prime minister of Iraq, what conclusions do you draw from the apparent regional ascendency of Iran and the apparent decline of the United States?

    OK, you are going to need to spell out this “regional ascendancy of Iran” theory. They’re a Shiite government unpopular with their own population. The eyes of the Arab world really don’t look to Iran. And people who advocated the invasion & occupation of Iraq don’t get to wring their hands about “the apparent decline of the United States” that they caused.

    * If you are the president of Syria, what conclusions do you draw from the success of Qaddafi’s brutal suppression of revolt?

    Keep up with Saudi-style brutal suppression. But let’s be honest, that’s on the agenda there regardless of what happens in Libya.

    * If you are the president of Venezuela and you lose an election, how will you react when President Obama tells you that you “must” honor the election results?

    What? That has nothing to do with anything.

    This all comes from the misapprehension you’re operating under that US foreign relations are like the Green Lantern, and that if we just show enough will, we can do anything. That really and truly isn’t how the world works. It’s substantially more complicated than that. We have a range of tools at our disposal, but we don’t get to fix the fate of the world’s people by looking at their presidents with our serious face. The fate of the Syrian people is not in American hands. The fate of the Venezuelan people is not in American hands. The fate of the Libyan people is not in American hands.

    * If you are a Libyan insurgent and you are offered arms by international Islamist groups, do you say yes or no?

    Of course they say yes. First off, how much difference is there between eastern Libyan insurgents & Islamist groups? (Genuine question, here, I don’t know). And even if there is a difference, when you’re really in need, you just don’t care about the views of your dealers. The mujahadin and the ayatollah were pleased to accept arms from Reagan, after all.

    • kuri3460

      Elvis, you pretty much hit the nail head-on over everything. To put it even more succinctly, shit happens, and sometimes the only options at our disposal are in the “lessor of two evils” category.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Evidence that a genocide is underway is… where exactly?
    Zawiya. Try paying attention to the news. Genocide is the specific targeting and elimination of members of a certain group or tribe. Right now all the young people are being rounded up in Zawiya and are disappearing, most likely to certain death. To pretend you don’t know this is ridiculous.

    “Did you consider that there might be ways to help the people of Libya *other than* more “shock and awe”?” But there aren’t. What, holding his foreign reserves for a few months will deter him? He knows after he wins he will get the money back, hell the oil companies will damn well push Obama hard to give it back with interest.

    Obama pushed Mubarak out of Egypt, all of this occurred before anything happened in Libya.
    If Obama saw fit to interfere in Egypt (and he sure as hell did) then that sent a clear signal to the Libyans. If he had said he was not going to do anything in Egypt, then no way in hell would the Libyan rebellion taken off since Mubarak would have crushed the rebellion himself.
    So no, I am not kidding, there is a clear line from events in Egypt to events in Libya.

    “I *am* 100% opposed to rushing in there based on emotional hysteria such as that seen in your post, combined with a deliberate underportrayal of the risks and costs.” How wonderful for you to dispassionately watch people being slaughtered and to call all arguments for a no fly zone as being “hysteria”
    The only thing I have ever called for is a no fly zone over Eastern Libya, up to Ras Lanuf, and the parking of our battleships nearby to prevent shelling from the ocean. In addition we could help arm and fund the rebels using that 30 billion we seized. Do you think they would object to that money being used that way? Honestly?
    30 Billion would certainly buy a hell of a lot of hardware. As to risks, we have more than enough SAM’s on ships that could shoot down any approaching Libyan plane to eastern Libya, so we would not risk pilots. This would allow the rebels to consolidate their positions. We could also block all oil exports out of Libya via the sea from Gadhafi controlled ports. Without resupply his days would be numbered.

    Doing nothing, which is what we are doing, would be insane.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Elvis, again, if Gadhafi wins he will have no choice but to do everything he can to seek the overthrow of any Democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt. He could fund radical jihadists in those countries which could prompt a miltary crackdown and goodbye Democracy in Tunisia and Egypt. Neither of the new dictators would want to offend Gadhafi since they can get cheap oil and have a lot of their workers help rebuild Libya. And with the Libyans permanently cowed (those that survive) the future for the region will indeed look very bleak.

    Or we can view them as Muslim subhuman monkeys that we frankly don’t give a rats ass about provided they sell us their oil.

    • Elvis Elvisberg

      if Gadhafi wins he will have no choice but to do everything he can to seek the overthrow of any Democratic movements in Tunisia and Egypt.

      There’s just no reason to believe that, TiaF. Dictators don’t care about legitimacy, they care about holding onto power. If he holds onto power, he will have established to Libyans that he’s willing to do anything to hang onto power. That has nothing to do with the Tunisians or the Egyptians. The Domino Theory was wrong in the 1960s and 70s, and this modified Domino Theory you’re advocating is wrong today.

      What’s more, the parade of horribles you’re conjuring up is based on the worst hypothetical cases your brain can create. That’s not a basis for making policy decisions.

      Maybe if we support the rebels, they’ll turn out to love al Qaeda and Libya will be the base for a terror attack on San Antonio that kills 1,253 people and when we invade Libya in response our weapons will be used against us just like in Afghanistan.

      This isn’t an idle fear, btw:
      http://www.cnas.org/blogs/abumuqawama/2011/03/rebels-love-us-right.html

      On a per capita basis, though, twice as many foreign fighters came to Iraq from Libya — and specifically eastern Libya — than from any other country in the Arabic-speaking world. Libyans were apparently more fired up to travel to Iraq to kill Americans than anyone else in the Middle East. And 84.1% of the 88 Libyan fighters in the Sinjar documents who listed their hometowns came from either Benghazi or Darnah in Libya’s east. This might explain why those rebels from Libya’s eastern provinces are not too excited about U.S. military intervention.

      Or we can view them as Muslim subhuman monkeys that we frankly don’t give a rats ass about provided they sell us their oil.

      Oh, come off it. This really isn’t about your emotional response to the situation. It’s about what we have the ability to do.

  • Churl

    Even if military intervention made sense we can’t do it. Has Mr. Frum noticed that we’re rather occupied in Afghanistan and Iraq right now; that we’re broke at the Federal, state, and local levels; that the American public loses its stomach for military operations as soon the casualties start?

    The Libyan rebels or insurgents (whoever they might be) may not be so anxious for our help anyway. They can read history books and learn how much good we did for the German-held Russian POWs forcibly repatriated after WWII
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victims_of_Yalta ;
    the Hungarians in 1956; the Vietnamese. Suggest that UN might help and they will probably remember Srebrenica.

    Forget it.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I truly am ashamed of Obama. He has lost my support and my vote.”

    Assuming you ever really had it. To be honest, you’re starting to sound a lot like a “concern troll”. For one thing, you continue to portray this as a black-and-white issue and ignore the many other options on the table other than a military invasion.

    As for this: “How wonderful for you to dispassionately watch people being slaughtered and to call all arguments for a no fly zone as being “hysteria””

    You’re not going to win an argument by trying to portray everyone who disagrees with you as being a heartless bastard. I am not “dispassionate” about people being slaughtered, but I recognize that this happens a lot, and we cannot stop all of it. We have to choose our battles, and go into the ones we do choose with some caution and wisdom.

    “By the way, if Libya becomes free it will be just a matter of time for Algeria to do so, and then Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc. ”

    This comment alone shows you are engaging in pure emotion-driven magical thinking, rather than trying to be sensible. And the more you do this, the more glad I am that we have someone *thoughtful* in charge of the military. If that means sacrificing your alleged vote, it’s a worthwhile price to pay.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Maybe if we support the rebels, they’ll turn out to love al Qaeda and Libya

    Oh please. It is a fantastically oil rich country, they would use their great wealth to live decent lives.

    TRS: the hyperbole I use is a direct response to your labelling Frum a war monger. And you have read enough of my posts and should be familiar enough with my caustic language to know I don’t pull punches. Neither do you. And absolutely I support Obama, did so from his convention speech in 2004.

    It is his dithering, his fecklessness that is so bad, to say everything is on the table is a lie since evidently he has no desire to exercise any of the military options. We have a fairly short window to work here. When will he respond? When Tobruk falls and Egypt is overwhelmed with a humanitarian crisis as millions of Libyans flee?

    Gadhafi has been funding mayhem for a generation all throughout Africa, since we have effectively excommunicated him from the west he will be outside of all restraint.

    His winning is simply not an option. Obama could not state Gadhafi had to go and accept him not going.

    “By the way, if Libya becomes free it will be just a matter of time for Algeria to do so, and then Syria, Iran, Saudi Arabia etc.” You call it magical thinking, but it truly has to be a matter of time for this to happen. I am not saying right away, but Egypt fell extremely quickly, and Algeria is likely next. When Syria and the others will I have no idea but you are engaging in the thought process that nothing good can ever occur. When Eastern Europe fell, it fell quickly, there were problems in the Balkans but look at today who would ever have predicted opening up a simple gate in Hungary could have such results. Did you? The same in Tunisia…one man had enough and set himself on fire and the regime was overturned because of it. If I had imagined such a scenerio you would have laughed at me as engaging in magical thinking.
    Of course you have no answer for this since you can not. You choose to state only bad things will happen, I posit that Serbia is an example of a correct application of force can have tremendous good in the world.

    And again, please, you have seen enough of my posts and how I mock Republicans to know I voted Democratic, so either you have a reading comprehension problem or your are being needlessly obtuse. I am deeply disappointed in Obama. Either do and say nothing or do something that has an effect, don’t do something that has no effect.

    As I said, the Chinese are consistent (amoral bastards true, but consistent amoral bastards)

  • valkayec

    What is the Arab street saying? What do they think about another U.S. military intervention?

    And, fyi, Clinton is working behind the scenes on this issue, including having met with rebel leaders. Just because all the meetings, etc., haven’t been made public doesn’t mean the U.S. is ignoring what is going on.

  • indy

    [blockquote]In response to your first question, no matter what the political parties involved are, the only person who can, in the context of a budget dispute, shut down the government is the president, by vetoing an appropriations bill. Complaining that the appropriations bill in question has a level of spending you dislike is IRRELEVANT – it is the VETO that denies the government the money, and forces the shutdown.

    If Obama is truly concerned with keeping the government open (rather than pursuing the tired, predictable “Washington Monument strategy” of closing parks and monuments, denying visas for non-cancellable flights, etc., to produce camera-friendly sob stories about those mean Republicans) he can always SIGN an appropriations bill to keep the government open, then request a supplemental to pile whatever extra spending that he wants.[/blockquote]

    Are you simply ignorant of how the process works or are you just a partisan hack? When people speak from the left I figure it is the latter, but when they speak from the right it always seems to be a toss up.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Bill Clinton has come out in support of a no fly zone, John Kerrey, Gov. Richardson, etc. the list of Democrats who support it is pretty large and growing. I suppose you can label all of them war mongers as well.

    If Obama is not going to do anything he should sure as hell just say he is not going to do anything. There is nothing more to consider, we have the resources deployed there. To be too late would be the worst option of all. I was patient while we were evacuating foreigners, and while we were getting the ships into the theater, and when it looked like the rebels were on a roll, but Zawiya has fallen, Misurata is soon to fall and the rebels will be pushed back to Benghazi soon.

    And having a few backroom meetings is meaningless. Handing out some food aid to people who will soon be butchered is nuts.

    • ottovbvs

      You seem to get more hysterical by the post. This is not our country and it’s not our fight. I’m all for giving these folks all the aid we can short of intervention but we already have two occupations/wars going on in the middle east and as Bob Gates pointed out anyone who wants to start another needs his head examining and based on some of the hyperbole I’ve seen I’d have said this might apply to you.

  • userjh5174

    Sometimes we have to allow a culture or nation to evolve on their own to develope a system of government that suits it’s people. Military intervention in this case [Libya] would be troubling for the following reason: a). Who are we going in to help? What if anything do we know about the rebels or their leader[s]? b). Are we ready to intervene in surrounding countries such as Egypt, Tunisia and others? c). Are we willing to commit American or NATO troops to another conflict when we are already stretching the limits of our military? d). If we decide to go into Libya , Would we be guaranted the much needed help of our NATO partners? Or would we just be left carrying the bag when countries like France and Germany decide that they have had enough?

    I say, lets apply a sort of Marshal plan like the one used in post war Germany, and let the Libyan people sort out what they want for their country. They will evolve a kind of government that is unique to them and they will be very pleased with the results because, it will be the creation of their own people and not one placed on them by an outside source. A jeffersonian sort of democracy is not for everyone.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Bill Clinton has come out in support of a no fly zone, John Kerrey, Gov. Richardson, etc. the list of Democrats who support it is pretty large and growing. I suppose you can label all of them war mongers as well.”

    Consider it done.

    “If Obama is not going to do anything he should sure as hell just say he is not going to do anything.”

    Maybe he is doing things that you don’t know about. You can have fun with your “nothing or invasion” false dichotomy, but I’d prefer to give Obama the benefit of the doubt that he’s considering a variety of options.

    That’s what responsible leaders do.

    What you call “dithering”, I call “due diligence before involving this country in yet another war”.

  • gmat

    1. Why is it important to me as an American what arabs and Muslims think about US neutrality toward Libya? They believe all kinds of weird shit anyway.
    2. I think both the EU and Egypt are capable of dealing with Qaddafi if he attacks them. But if they are worried about it, maybe they should make sure he doesn’t survive this uprising.
    3.Iran. So what? As long as they keep pumping and shipping oil out of the Gulf, what difference does it make to the US?
    4.No idea. What does that have to do with US intervention? Are you suggesting the Libyan refugees will come to the US and be enough of a problem, that the US should try to preempt the problem by intervention in Libya?
    5.Better try to get along with Iran.
    6.Better try to get along with Iran.
    7.Maybe brutally suppressing revolts is a viable strategy.
    8.Say something macho, but keep selling oil to the US.
    9.If you are a Libyan insurgent, you may well already be a member of an international islamist group, namely the Libyan Islamic Fighting Group, veterans of Afghanistan, Bosnia, Chechnya, and Iraq. Their home base is the Benghazi region.

  • No-Fly, Don't Bother Me - Hit & Run : Reason Magazine

    [...] who as I write this is arguing about regulation and limited-government hyperbole on Twitter, posed nine questions of his own. They [...]

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    otto, are you nuts? What is hysterical? Pointing out that Bill Clinton supports the no fly zone. I love that when you have no answers to what I write you simply discount it as hysteria. That is the hallmark of a weak mind.

    Giving aid to people who are about to be butchered would be like running airconditioners in Auschwitz, it is pointless and obscene.

    And can you not comprehend my points? Obama should never have ordered the military to the area, never have ordered Gadhafi to leave, never have froze his assets if he had zero intention of following up. Obama should do one or the other but make up your damn mind.

    And please, respond to the posts, you want to say Clinton should have his head examined, then say so. All I have ever called for is a no fly zone and you call that hysterical. Again, if you can’t respond intelligently, don’t respond at all.

    • ottovbvs

      I love that when you have no answers to what I write you simply discount it as hysteria.

      No hysteria present?

      “Giving aid to people who are about to be butchered would be like running airconditioners in Auschwitz, it is pointless and obscene.”

      If you say so?

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    TRS: You can have fun with your “nothing or invasion” false dichotomy

    Bullshit, show me where I said invasion. A no fly zone is not an invasion. You are making up a false dichotomy as though I once said either full scale invasion or nothing. There are a host of things we can do now to materially affect the situation, We are obviously not. You might be ok with this. I am not. Of course you are free to vote for Obama in 2012, I won’t. Is this really so hard to understand?

    • ottovbvs

      “Bullshit, show me where I said invasion. A no fly zone is not an invasion.”

      Obviously you don’t even know what’s involved in setting up a no fly zone. It means bombing raids to take out radar and other installations. The Libyans are armed to the teeth with Russian missile systems so these also have to be neutralized at considerable risk. This is not a video game as you appear to believe.

  • medinnus

    Honestly? For me, it boils down to this, and not those questions; those are perhaps interesting questions for laymen like us to dither over, but ultimately we don’t have the data to answer them effectively.

    Here’s the deal:

    1 – We can’t afford more military crap intervention.

    2 – If the EU wants to engage via NATO, let them.

    3 – Arabs don’t want more USA intervention, except the Saudi royals, who want us to be the “bad guys” for the Arab Street and do their dirty work. We give them all kinds of military shit – Egypt and the other Arab countries should intervene if they want it.

    4 – We have NO stake in this fight. Refugees might go to the EU, or other countries, but not here.

    5 – We want to build cred with the Arab street and the popular uprisings, we give the rebels non-military aid. Food. Medicine. More food. More medicine. Blankets. Even more medicine. And we distribute it through anyone but our own troops.

    6 – If we really, really have to, we do covert airstrikes with Chinese markings and serial numbers. Our over-arching goal in the Middle East has nothing to do with Iran and its influence, and more with making China have less.

    • gmat

      Why do you want to make China have less? Less what? Oil? Less influence in the Gulf? Kindly elucidate.

      • medinnus

        Why? Seriously? China is our competitor in the region.

        I want them to have less influence, less ‘face’, less oil, less arms deals, and I want the Arab Street calling them the Great Satan.

        • gmat

          Oh, I see what you mean. Well, they are a lot more dependent on the Gulf than the US, and they definitely have a different style than the US.

          They go into a place with arab speaking representatives, no soldiers, lots of cash, absolutely no interest in local politics, and say, “Where’s your stuff? Where’s your port? How about if we build a road from your stuff to your port?”

          The US can’t compete with that. Might as well not even try.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    TiaF: You’re right, you never used the word invasion specifically. If I implied that you did, then I apologize for that.

    But at the same time, let’s not play games here:

    1. What is the first step in establishing a no-fly zone? Taking out air defences, and the ability to rebuild those air defences. That means missile strikes and bombing. That’s not an invasion, but it is definitely more than just “we’re flying around up there and they’ll be so scared that they’ll just leave us alone”.

    2. A no-fly zone alone will not stop Qaddafi from crushing the rebels. To do that requires feet on the ground. You’ve spoken clearly in favor of the US preventing Qaddafi from crushing the rebels, so how are you not in favor of ground forces?

    3. Even if you can somehow argue that we don’t need ground forces to stop Qaddafi, do you think that all of those who are currently suggesting a no-fly zone will be willing to stop at that step? Countries often get into messes incrementally, and many of the neocon warmongers who are in favor of a no-fly zone are saying that only to get the proverbial foot in the door.

    4. Do you really think it a good idea for the US to dive into this with no idea of the mess that might result? Didn’t we JUST DO THAT less than a decade ago?

    5. If you feel this strongly about interventionist foreign policy that you’d not vote for Obama in 2012 over it, why did you vote for him at all? It’s not like this represents some sort of sea change in his leadership style or policy.

  • No-Fly, Don’t Bother Me | Daily Libertarian

    [...] who as I write this is arguing about regulation and limited-government hyperbole on Twitter, posed nine questions of his own. They [...]

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    2. A no-fly zone alone will not stop Qaddafi from crushing the rebels. To do that requires feet on the ground. You’ve spoken clearly in favor of the US preventing Qaddafi from crushing the rebels, so how are you not in favor of ground forces?

    Serbia and Milosovic were defeated by air power alone and Serbia was a hell of a lot more advanced the Libya, so I fundamentally disagree that a no fly zone would not be enough. And if it is not and it looks like Gadhafi’s forces can march on Benghazi, then we still do not need ground troops, the Libyan army would be sitting ducks out on the open desert, their supply lines stretched, the Libyan troops morale would be low, one bombing raid would like send them fleeing back to Tripoli.
    So no, no troops would be necessary.

    And you state that we would have to bomb western Libya, why would we need to fly there. We can announce a no fly zone over eastern Libya and shoot down any damn fool Libyan that tries to bomb them. We wouldn’t even have to fly onto Libyan airspace to do that.

    So, no I don’t agree with 1, although I would not be opposed to a total no fly zone over Libya. We had one over Iraq for 12 years.
    And 2 I disagree with.
    3 is a strawman argument…classic slipperly slope argument. Obama is still President, do you think they will put a gun to his head?
    4 The mess of what will happen strikes me as far worse than any worst case scenario. The worst that can happen is Gadhafi still wins. Doing nothing ensures that. Besides the same arguments were made against Clinton in the Balkans…why get into such a mess…yada yada…15 years later and they have streets in Kosovo named after Clinton.
    Maybe Gadhafi will name a street after Obama after he wins.
    5 I am a centrist. I generally favor Republicans over defense and FP until baby Bush came along and totally screwed the pooch. Domestically I support Democrats, I believe in strong unions, believe in UHC, etc.
    I believe that the only solution in the Middle East is a popular uprising from within towards pluralistic attitudes. Imposing them from without doesn’t work. China did not begin its march towards modernity until the Chinese looked around and said “you know what, we can march around with signs bitching about American imperialism that no one believes and cares about and live up to our asses in mud and shit, or we can get over it and modernize”
    For the first time in my life young Arabs are risking their lives not over radical Islam but for an honest chance of a better life and freedom. To not feel moved and sympathetic towards them is callous. To not take advantage of this opportunity by aiding freedom fighters in Libya against a man who killed many Americans in the past would be reckless and unsound.

    Clinton did the right thing in Serbia, he was, outside of being a depraved pig, a damn good President. He supports the no fly zone. In my mind he has credibility. For the first time I wished Hillary had won, I think she is made of tougher stuff.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Serbia and Milosovic were defeated by air power alone and Serbia was a hell of a lot more advanced the Libya, so I fundamentally disagree that a no fly zone would not be enough.”

    Sorry, but the comparison is bogus: it wasn’t one government versus straggly rebels there. Furthermore, Serbia involved an extensive bombing campaign, not just a “no fly zone”. Are you suggesting we get involved in a months-long bombing campaign in Libya?

    Also, there *were* people pushing for a ground war in Serbia, and if Milosevich hadn’t caved when he did that might have happened. Qaddafi is not under nearly as much pressure from these rebels, and could hold out much longer.

    ” And if it is not and it looks like Gadhafi’s forces can march on Benghazi, then we still do not need ground troops, the Libyan army would be sitting ducks out on the open desert, their supply lines stretched, the Libyan troops morale would be low, one bombing raid would like send them fleeing back to Tripoli.”

    Okay, so now you’ve gone from a no-fly zone to active bombing runs. Congratulations: you just proved my point about escalation, all by yourself.

    “So no, no troops would be necessary.”

    Until the bombing runs aren’t enough.

    “And 2 I disagree with.”

    But can’t provide a scintilla of evidence or argument to support the disagreement.

    “3 is a strawman argument…classic slipperly slope argument. Obama is still President, do you think they will put a gun to his head?”

    Ironically, you yourself provide that it was not a strawman argument, by changing your position from a no-fly zone to supporting active attacks on the Libyan army right in your own post.

    “The worst that can happen is Gadhafi still wins. Doing nothing ensures that.”

    Really. That’s a worst case scenario? He’s been in power for what, 40 years? If him being in power was such a castastrophe, why didn’t we take him out decades ago?

    “Maybe Gadhafi will name a street after Obama after he wins.”

    And with that, you’ve moved into the “no longer worth responding to” category. You’re completely irrational.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    One last thing, Obama brought up an aircraft carrier and an assortment of other ships. Why? Don’t pull out a gun unless you are prepared to shoot. If he thought it would deter Gadhafi then he is a fool. If he has no intention of doing a no fly zone, he should say so and say so now, that way the people of eastern Libya can flee in terror to Egypt and we can have a massive humanitarian crisis on our hands for a generation or we can have Egyptian army stop them and let the native populace rely on the mercy of Gadhafi. But hey, at least we will know where Obama stands.
    And if he does, then we really should get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan now, the inconsistencies inherent of letting a madman who controls billions of dollars of oil with which he very well would fund jihadists to kill Americans in Iraq and Afghanistan to survive is insanity.

    Look, Rand Paul I get. I might not agree with him but I get him. He would make up his mind and do it, he would have completely ignored everything there as being the internal affairs of these countries. I would disagree but I could respect his consistency. Obama will dither then act, and if he never acts then he will look feckless for his empty threats and for his eventual cave in as he releases all of the assets that he seized.

    • ottovbvs

      “One last thing, Obama brought up an aircraft carrier and an assortment of other ships. Why? Don’t pull out a gun unless you are prepared to shoot. ”

      Hysteria AND John Wayne movies. Rand Paul is the bench mark? Rand Paul’s finger on the trigger? Jesus. Grow up.

    • gmat

      “then we really should get the hell out of Iraq and Afghanistan now”

      agreed

  • heap

    seems like a lot of words to essentially get to ‘damned if you do, damned if you don’t’

    here’s a thought, tho Dave…could you come up with a list that even involves ‘If you are an american citizen’ as a criteria?

    I realize those other folks are kinda topically important, but…so are american citizens. Ask a few questions on why one would want to be killed or maimed for party-crashing somebody else’s problems.

  • Tempest in a Frumpot

    Otto, it is you who have nothing but childish insults, you are getting whipped in arguments that you know you can’t address so you resort to childish namecalling. C’mon, either address what I write or ignore it. Why pull up an aircraft carrier to the med. if he had no intent to use it, it is a huge waste of money to do so? A show of force you have no intention to use makes you look weak, honest to God, have you ever been anywhere in the world?

    gmat, at least, is honest and consistent. You can not address the logic of staying in Afghanistan and Iraq with the illogic of letting a far greater threat to America win so you engage in cheap insults. I am on to your game.

    And what is it with hysteria, do you even know its meaning? I suggest you buy yourself a dictionary, at worst I can be accused of hyperbole, (ie overplaying the potential disaster, but you have not refuted the likely slaughter in the east nor even attempted it, ignoring it of course you have no problem with) not hysteria.
    Here is the dictionary definition (ie the non Otto make believe definition) an uncontrollable outburst of emotion or fear, often characterized by irrationality, laughter, weeping, etc.

    Where am I uncontrolled? And wanting to have a no fly zone is not characteristic of fear.
    If you can’t even use English at a 9th grade level, might I suggest you go back an get your GED.

    Again, you have not once refuted any of my points (nitpicking on an observation that non intervention of the Rand model is internally consistent is evidence of what exactly? John Wayne?)

    I have never said invade, I have only advocated a no fly zone, the same that Bill Clinton does. Oh, but you know better than Clinton, talk about an inflated sense of self…oh wait, maybe I should say hysterical sense of hysteria, hysterically…since that seems to be one of the few 2 dollar words you know.

    See, I can be a douchebag too. But at least I know I am being one.

  • Video: Obama somehow under the impression that we’re tightening the noose on Qaddafi « Hot Air

    [...] an argument on why we should intervene post haste, read David Frum. It boils down to protecting American prestige, but I don’t see how that would be enhanced if [...]

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “I have never said invade, I have only advocated a no fly zone”

    And bombing the Libyan army. Or did you forget already? You did it in the same post where you responded to my claim that those asking for a no fly zone would escalate their demands by saying my claim was a ‘strawman’. LOL

    “Oh, but you know better than Clinton, talk about an inflated sense of self…”

    You seem to be pretty big on appeals to authority. When did Bill Clinton become an authority on Middle East foreign policy? I wasn’t particularly impressed with him when he was in office, and nothing has happened since to change my mind.

  • pnumi2

    Tempest

    GUN BOAT DIPLOMACY

    “The term comes from the period of colonial imperialism, where the European powers would intimidate other states into granting trade or other concessions (unequal treaties) through a demonstration of their superior military power. A country negotiating with a European power would notice that a warship or fleet of ships had appeared off its coast. The mere sight of such power almost always had a considerable effect, and it was rarely necessary for such boats to use other measures, such as demonstrations of cannon fire.”

    Maybe you were expecting a battleship with two funnels belching black smoke.

    How does any country know it’s a show of force not to be used? Don’t they have to call our bluff to find out? Cross the Rubicon?

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “For some commentators, of course, such “mission creep” is the whole point: Today, a no-fly zone; tomorrow, air strikes to back it up; the day after that, “advisers” for the rebels; the day after that, boots on the ground. To my mind, the dangers involved in this kind of escalation are a good reason not to go to war in first place. But for supporters of a no-fly zone, it’s the raw unlikeliness of this kind of escalation that should make them think twice about their strategy. The lesson of previous campaigns is that the no-fly gambit only really makes sense as a means to regime change if we’re willing to back it up with further shows of force.”

    – Ross Douthat

    http://douthat.blogs.nytimes.com/2011/03/10/the-perils-of-a-no-fly-zone/

  • anniemargret

    And what would happen if one of our planes accidentally misses a target and ends up killing innocents? How would that one play out?

    Or if one of our planes gets shot down? What do we do then?

    The law of unintended consequences must be examined and examined again….humanitarian aid, yes. No fly zone, no.

  • pnumi2

    annie

    Pay no attention to these Eames chair generals launching their missiles and unfurling their ‘mission accomplished’ banners from the safety of FF. I’d be very surprised if any of them ever served in any of the conflicts of the last 20 years.

    They’re not interested in the rebels or the resistance; they’re interested in snagging another nation’s natural resources, namely oil. They regurgitate articles they’ve read by pundits they admire. And they send thousands of soldiers and sailors and innocents to their death without ever having to leave their desk.

    Oh, and they get in a few digs at the black President whom they hate.

    • PatrickQuint

      Impugning the intentions of other people posting here isn’t helpful. It wasn’t helpful when others in the thread did it and it’s not helpful now. Everyone here wants to see a free Libya. Everyone here cares about what happens to the Libyan people. Everyone here wants to see successful American foreign policy.

      Talk to the contrary is not welcome.

      It doesn’t make sense to say that this is about claiming Arab oil. Qaddafi was, is, and will be perfectly willing to sell oil on the open market regardless of US involvement one way or the other. The US of A isn’t taking a cut of Iraqi oil profits, so the assertion that either Iraq or Libya are about the oil just doesn’t fit with what happened. It makes about as much sense as saying that invading Afghanistan was about claiming the rich oil fields *there*.

      Under current rules as I understand it, the money for the oil shipped out of Bengazi is delivered to the Libyan government, in Tripoli, under the control of Qaddafi.

      I suspect that the best way to support the rebels is to recognize the transitional government (let them tax the oil moving out of Bengazi for funding) and then offer to sell them logistical support and the arms they need to fight their war at market price. The aid can remain humanitarian in nature.

      Some might find the mention of oil money for guns to run contrary to my assertion about American oil interests in the region. I’ll remind you that the oil coming out of Libya typically goes to China, and there’s no reason to expect that to change. So if military action is about oil interest, it’s China’s oil interest.

  • valkayec

    Wow, Gen. Wesley Clark has a powerful opinion piece in the Washington Post on this subject. If anyone should know, from a military standpoint, what to do, it is he.

    Read the article:

    http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2011/03/11/AR2011031103244.html?hpid=opinionsbox1

    • Arms Merchant

      Wow, Weasely actually wrote something intelligent. Thanks for posting–he’s right on the money.

  • jerry ebert

    I don’t know I don’t know I don’t know. Yes David, Iran has hegemony in the Mideast, but didn’t we pave the way for that by our ill-conceived conquest of Iraq? It’s a lot easier to start a war than it is to end it.

  • talkradiosucks.com

    “Wow, Gen. Wesley Clark has a powerful opinion piece in the Washington Post on this subject. If anyone should know, from a military standpoint, what to do, it is he.”

    Thanks for posting that. Of all the articles I could imagine, that one best puts a stake through the heart of the “Bill Clinton did it in Kosovo” argument.

  • gobsmacked

    Another opinion on the matter that makes a lot of sense:

    http://politico-junkie.blogspot.com/2011/03/uk-maybeaudacity-is-last-thing-we-want.html