I have been half working on my thoughts concerning international relations, in particular just war, but have not finished them before this current crises. Nonetheless, anyone who knows me knows I do not buy the theory that the United States can only act with U.N. or NATO approval, or that the resolutions of either can command the U.S. to act. Opponents of the Iraq War made a big deal out of U.N. approval and are now loath to act without it.
To my own rather great surprise, we began launching missile strikes against Libya this weekend. This occurred without any Congressional approval, a fact that I find disconcerting.
I have only one serious question though: what is our goal?
As our President seems determined not to lead this operation but rather provide support to the policies of others, we have to look to those "others" to find out what it is we are doing. The closest thing to a policy statement is the Security Council's Resolution 1973. This resolution allows allied forces to protect civilians and maintain a no fly zone. It does not, however, provide for removing Qaddafi from power. Our military and civil leaders seem confused on this point.
So, when does this operation end? It is rather ironic that the U.S. codename for the mission is "Odyssey Dawn." Odysseus spent many, many years at sea, lost and desperately trying to get back home. I sure hope that isn't our future in Libya, but that is the most likely outcome. Qaddafi is not going to surrender power or large portions of Libya; we will not remove the dictator; ergo, there seems to be no lasting peace without constant U.N. combat air patrols.
The problem with fighting by committee is that the committee members often disagree with one another. And if we are protecting the civilians of Libya, why not those of Iran? Bahrain? Syria? Sudan? North Korea?
I am not opposed to removing Qaddafi. I am opposed to letting a tyrant remain in power and paying for a no fly zone that only maintains an unstable equilibrium. The second we leave (and the cost will soon cause us to leave), Qaddafi comes back into power. If we wanted to intervene, the time to do so was three weeks ago when Qaddafi was on the ropes.
Our President seems intent on following a U.N. mandated policy of stalemate. A very expensive stalemate that can devolve into defeat if the coalition fractures. A stalemate that can be upheld by the United States alone the second our poor European allies decide it is not in their interest to spend more on this African backwater. Stalemate is not a policy we should be aiming at.