Libya: Obama’s war of choice

For the second time since the U.S. went to war in Afghanistan in 2002, the United States has taken its eye off the ball, and instead proceeded to war against another Muslim nation while the war in Afghanistan sputters bloodily along with no end in sight.

 

For the second time since our involvement in Afghanistan, the United States decided that application of American military force elsewhere, in a nation little understood by outsiders, would result in a favorable political outcome allowing the quick withdrawal of the U.S. military after minimal casualties.

 

After promising to hand off command of the military intervention in Libya to others “within days,” the U.S. finds itself having to negotiate in search of some entity willing to assume command of the new war. With Germany unwilling to participate at all, we will again have to cobble together some sort of “coalition of the willing” to provide the promised political fig leaf for a transfer of war command.

 

A quick end to the war and the political crisis in Libya does not seem likely. Is there a humanitarian justification for our pursuing another protracted war far from our shores?

 

As Americans know only too well, civil wars are terrible events resulting in civilian as well as military casualties. But is that sufficient reason for foreign intervention? What would President Lincoln and most Americans have thought of British and French intervention in our civil war (which was considered) to protect civilians in Georgia and the Carolinas from the invasion threatened by General William Sherman?

 

The U.S. did not intervene in the civil wars in Rwanda (no oil), Darfur (no oil), or the on-going civil war in the Democratic Republic of the Congo (no oil), though the number of civilians threatened and actually harmed was in each case greater than in Libya.

 

We expended $100 million worth of armaments on the first day of the war in Libya. Can our first billion dollars of costs be far away? So I guess we’re willing to borrow more and put the country further into debt to pay for replacements? Maybe we can think of it as economic stimulus?

 

If Afghanistan is turning out to be President Obama’s Vietnam, Libya may turn out to be his Iraq.

Want a digest of WHYY’s programs, events & stories? Sign up for our weekly newsletter.

It will take 126,000 members this year for great news and programs to thrive. Help us get to 100% of the goal.