04-23-2011, 01:57 PM
The Liberal Way of War
| The Liberal Way of War |
The intervention in Libya is the half-blood child of multilateralism, an intervention driven in part by genuine humanitarian concerns and in part by naked self-interest.
The current generation of American liberals loves a good war. In recent years they’ve fought, with varying degrees of success, the War on Poverty, the War on Hunger, and the War on Carbon. So it seemed ironic that when the liberals of the Obama administration launched a campaign in Libya that seemed truly worthy of being called a war, they were reluctant to use the word. But now that disinclination is starting to make sense — because a war is something you generally set out to win.
You can’t blame liberals for appropriating the word “war” to infuse left-wing social and environmental policies with a sense of moral urgency in order to sell them to voters. Try rallying support for a time-limited kinetic operation against poverty. The trouble is that when you engage in the deadly serious business of dropping bombs on an Arab country and taking sides in a civil war — actions replete with dangers and unintended consequences — you need a stronger basis for acting than the insistence that something must be done.
The Obama administration’s decision to intervene in Libya, driven by the liberal interventionist clique headed by Hillary Clinton, Samantha Power, and Susan Rice, may be based on good intentions. But it’s underpinned by no consistent principles or coherent foreign policy (why not Syria? Bahrain?), serves no obvious national interest, and seems to have been taken with little thought as to what constitutes success, or what happens a week, a month, a year down the road.
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