Jewish World Review July 15, 2011 13 Tamuz, 5771
A Dumb and Dumber War in Libya
By Victor Davis Hanson
Almost daily over the last four months we were told that
In March, President Obama ordered the use of American bombers and cruise missiles to join in with the French and British to finish off the tottering Gadhafi regime. Obama was apparently stung by liberal criticism that the U.S. had done little to help rebels in their weeks-long effort to remove Gadhafi -- after only belatedly supporting the successful revolutionaries in
Months ago, intervention to the Obama administration seemed a short, painless way of ridding the world of a decades-long international menace while gaining praise for helping "democratic" reformers. Oil, of course, is always a subtext in any Middle Eastern war.
But almost immediately contradictions arose. Sometimes we ordered Gadhafi to leave; at other times we insisted we were only helping the rebels. Bombs seemed to be aimed at the Gadhafi family, even as we denied such targeted killing -- and were reminded that U.S. law forbids the assassination of foreign leaders.
The rebels were variously described as would-be democratic reformers, inept amateurs, hard-core Islamists, or mixtures of all three. No one seems to have answers months later, though many insurgents share a deep-seeded racial and religious hatred of Gadhafi's African mercenaries. Who knows whether post-Gadhafi Libya will become an Islamic republic, a
The Obama administration asked for legal authorization from the
Both conservatives and liberals were flabbergasted by the sudden preemptive war. Conservatives who supported the messy efforts in
Liberals were appalled that the president, who, as a senator, had always praised the War Powers Act, was now ordering his legal team to find ingenious ways of bypassing it. If this was to be a multilateral, un-Bush war, why then did it split
The left had also decried Western attacks on oil-exporting Muslim countries, but now liberal-in-chief
The odious Gadhafi has been an international pariah for most of his tenure, funding terrorists, killing Americans and murdering dissidents. But even as the bombs were dropped, he was a monster in the midst of rehab. By late 2010 his jet-setting family was being courted by Western intellectuals, reestablishing diplomatic relations with
Then, with a snap of the fingers, in early 2011 Gadhafi was suddenly reinvented as a
What is next?
The general consensus, from both left and right, is that we should finish the misadventure as quickly as possible. Apparently, the only thing worse than starting a stupid, unnecessary war against a madman is losing it.
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Victor Davis Hanson, a classicist and military historian, is a senior fellow at the Hoover Institution and a recipient of the 2007 National Humanities Medal. Comment by clicking here.
© 2011, TMS