The case against intervention in Libya

While the anti-war movement is largely missing in action - comparatively speaking to protest against the Iraq War, as David Boaz notes - when it comes to President Barack Obama’s intervention in Libya, there are voices on the right that are making their opposition well-known.

Over at the Washington Examiner, Tim Carney presents the case that many conservatives and libertarians are making against intervention:

Setting aside the wisdom of the intervention, Obama’s entry into Libya’s civil war is troubling on at least five counts. First is the legal and constitutional question. Second is the manner of Obama’s announcement. Third is the complete disregard for public opinion and lack of debate. Fourth is the unclear role the United States will play in this coalition. Fifth is the lack of a clear endgame. Compounding all these problems is the lack of trust created by Obama’s record of deception.
There is no claim that Moammar Gadhafi poses a threat to the United States. But asking President Obama to explain his change of heart would be a fruitless exercise. This is a president who has repeatedly shredded the clear meaning of words in order to deny breaking promises he has clearly broken — consider his continued blatant falsehoods on tax increases and his hiring of lobbyists.

Matching the offhand assertion of authority to start an offensive war was the unserious way he announced it. While France’s Nicolas Sarkozy stood before an international gathering in Paris and Britain’s David Cameron arranged an address from No. 10 Downing St., Obama took a brief break from his trade meetings in Brazil to issue a statement at first carried to Americans only in audio form.

Bush has been called a brash cowboy, but at least he started his wars “ex cathedra,” so to speak, conveying the gravity of war by solemnly addressing “my fellow Americans” from the Oval Office.

Further, Bush started his wars only after leading long national debates. Obama pledged to be more deliberative than Bush, but on Libya, any deliberation mostly excluded the public and Congress.

The prospect of U.S. military intervention in Libya first arose weeks ago, when an all-out civil war erupted there. Yet Obama never pushed the issue until after his U.N. ambassador voted for the use of force at the Security Council. Obama never tried to cultivate American support for a third war. While Cameron defended his position during question time in Parliament, Obama merely sent a few aides to Capitol Hill.

Nor has there been a clear explanation of America’s role in the anti-Gadhafi coalition and the objectives of the war. Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said of the attacks: “We did not lead this.” But Vice Adm. Bill Gortney, director of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Saturday that the U.S. was in command of the operation.

Obama will portray the U.S. role as simply supporting the European powers or “setting the stage,” but, again, he has a history of playing word games when it comes to military conflicts. For instance, although it has been eight months since Obama declared “the end of combat operations” in Iraq, American soldiers are still being killed in combat. Americans can put little stake in what Obama says today about what the U.S. is actually doing in Libya, and no one should count on straight answers in the future.

Finally, the White House hasn’t spelled out the objectives of this military campaign. The U.N. resolution is purportedly about a bringing about a cease-fire, but if Gadhafi does stop shooting, will the rebels stop? Would the U.S. and its allies really leave Gadhafi in charge? Would they partition Libya?

Or, more likely, is this about regime change? And if Gadhafi is deposed, can the U.S. really walk away — or will this mean more nation-building in the Muslim world?

And deposing Gadhafi is apparently off the table, according to the Obama Administration; although Obama has said that he “favors” the dictator stepping down. While I don’t favor us involving ourselves in Libya, that’s a high cost to essentially do nothing.

Jack Hunter also notes that with his intervention in Libya, Obama has essentially become George W. Bush, who also invaded a country that posed no real threat to the United States:

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