The Libya war is already lost

For one thing, the intervention emboldens Iran. The Obama administration has declared repeatedly that it is “unacceptable” for Iran to obtain nuclear weapons. The same statement was made by the previous White House and endorsed by our European allies. Moreover, the U.S. government has repeatedly stated that “all options are on the table,” the phrase used to threaten military action. WikiLeaks make it clear that defanging Iran is viewed by our main allies in the Middle East as vital to their interests…

Much has already been made, for good reason, of the confused rationale for the Libya intervention, the inconsistency with which it is applied (especially with regards to nonintervention in Syria), and the mission creep (from humanitarian intervention to regime change). One must now add a major concern: although Qaddafi will be unseated, the result will not be a government that will protect human rights, as Secretary of State Hillary Clinton so eloquently held up as what is required. One cannot foresee at this point how long inter-tribal conflicts will last after Qaddafi is gone, what role the Libyan military will play in the new regime, or what kind of government the rebels—who have already formed death squads of their own—will form. However, we know that Libya has few of the foundations of a liberal democracy: it has a weak civil society, a thin middle class and no democratic tradition to revive. If this unhappy prediction holds true, five or ten years from now, when one looks at the Libya intervention, it will not be the overthrow of a tyrant to make for a liberal democratic regime. It will be God knows what kind of mishmash of chaos, bloodshed, and pseudo-democracy.

While Western officials will surely try to put the best face possible on this regime change, neutral observers will see here one more reason to limit future interventions to either those that are strictly humanitarian interventions (a la Kosovo) those that truly serve our vital national interests (say, if Iran were foolish enough to close the Strait of Hormuz).

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