Military Intervention In Libya Is A Bad Idea

One of the immutable laws of politics is that the Democrat party will refuse to use military intervention in any location where the US has strategic geopolitical or trade interests. The corollary to that law is that there is no Third World craphole (see Somalia, Darfur, Haiti) to which the Democrats will not offer to send US troops so long as it is high risk and with no real purpose.


One must understand both these rules to comprehend the calls coming from the left demanding US intervention in Libya. Whether it is just “cratering” their airfields, as proposed by John Kerry this past weekend, or the chest thumping carried out by what we are told is our president, or the general demand by the media to “do something” it all boils down to the same thing: they are considering sending young men and women to death and injury for no purpose larger than feeling good about themselves and they are doing it with the same callous insouciance with which they cheerfully supported John Murtha’s (D-Ninth Circle) slow bleed strategy in Iraq.By way of background, Libya is a prototypical Islamic pest hole. It is roughly the size of Alaska with a population about that of Indiana. As far as one can tell no one from Libya has produced anything that has advanced the cause of civilization… ever… and other than oil, of which it exports slightly less than the Netherlands and slightly more than the UK, its two major products are terrorism and misery, listed in no particular order.

It is not self sufficient in food. Any industry it has is owned by various Qaddafi cronies. Its geographical position is astride no lanes of commerce. In short, Libya is the anti-Iraq. Where Iraq occupied key real estate and had the underpinnings of being a significant regional power, Libya has nothing and virtually is nothing.

If we’ve learned anything in the past 20 years is should be that we cannot let US foreign policy be driven by media coverage. We intervened in Haiti’s internal strife in 1994, again to make a certain class of intellectual feel good about “doing something” and withdrew having done nothing but show the world we did nothing. More tragically, we became embroiled in Somalia for the same reason, to “do something” without any observable strategic purpose, and our subsequent pell-mell retreat convinced bin Laden that he could replicate the effect.


Truth be told, what happens in Libya doesn’t matter to us so long as it stays confined to Libya. If anyone should be concerned it is the Euros who, no matter which way the situation turns out, will be on the receiving end of a stream of political refugees. If the EU does become involved it is hard to see exactly what value-added US forces will represent given the relative proximity of the EU to Libya.

So while I’m not opposed to military intervention, indeed I think that American bayonets have done more to spread liberty and free enterprise across the globe than any other force in history, such intervention needs to have a purpose. Not only must it have a purpose but that intervention must be part of a logical rhyme and reason that even the dimmest bulb can understand.

A few days ago a RedState colleague made the case for why US ground troops should not be committed to operations in Libya. I will take that a step farther. I think involving the US in any effort to establish or enforce a “no fly” zone is likewise folly. A “no fly” zone is nothing more than another form of “doing something” as the effectiveness of the Libyan air force is marginal. While the danger to US aircraft or airmen would be minimal, war is fraught with uncertainty. The Serbs really didn’t have the technical capability of bringing down an F-117 and yet…

At a minimum we should apply the Hippocratic Oath to this case and do no harm. We know precious little about the revolutionaries in Libya beyond the fact that they were able to effectively organize in the face of an a very repressive police state. One would be on safe ground if one presumed they were either islamists or communists as small-L liberal small-D democratic groups don’t do secrecy all that well. Simply because Qaddafi is loathsome doesn’t mean his opponents are less loathsome (see Shah of Iran – Khomeini; Lon Nol – Pol Pot; etc.).


Let’s not fool ourselves. If we intervene in Libya we do so for no strategic or humanitarian purpose and without any real consideration of what may follow.


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