Farewell Qaddafi; 3 cheers for NATO. I share your sentiment that Qaddafi deserved his fate and I applaud all of the brave men and women who endeavored to bring about his downfall. Assisting in the toppling of such a monster exemplifies the moral strength of the revolutionary US policy in the Middle East. The world would indeed be well served by the fall of more goons like Qaddafi.
As satisfying as it is to see Qaddafi fall, Libya remains a country of limited geopolitical importance. While Italy, France and China will certainly continue to jockey for their sweet crude, the balance of power in the region is not greatly changed by the absence of the crazy colonel. This is not the case with regard to the Assad clan in Syria. The moral case for Bashar’s removal from power is strong. The geopolitical case may be stronger. While no one in Washington will be clamoring for Iraq-style regime change in Syria, the effectiveness (with a relatively small footprint) of the operation in Libya should only embolden those seeking to hasten the fall of Assad. The United States can not and should not indiscriminately “go abroad looking for monsters.” However when moral and geopolitical interests converge, the case for action becomes much stronger.
Since the beginning of the Syrian uprising Assad has proven beyond a reasonable doubt that he is a monster in the Qaddafi mold. Murder, torture, and every manner of oppression have been employed to extend his reign. Youtube videos, journalistic reports, and accounts from brave diplomats have shown the depth of evil to which the Assad regime has been willing to stoop. All those who cheered for Qaddafi’s downfall should likewise root for the eventual toppling of Assad.
The balance of power in the Middle East has indeed shifted in favor of the United States over the past 20 years. Of the opposition that remains, Syria is the lynchpin. Without Syria’s port on the Mediterranean, it’s access to Lebanon, and it’s general ability to facilitate troublemaking, Iran would have a much tougher time challenging US interests in the region. US policymakers have realized this and for many years hoped to shift Assad’s loyalties through sweeteners and dialogue. This is clearly no longer an option. The US possesses tools, clandestine and otherwise, to continue to make life difficult for Assad. The case for using these is increasingly growing stronger.
If the moral and geopolitical case for regime change in Syria is strong, it is only stronger in Iran. Monsters with a nuclear weapons capability can cause far more damage than Qaddafi could ever dream of. Very difficult decisions await President Obama in dealing with both of these Middle East malefactors. One can only hope that these situations may be resolved with minimal bloodshed and suffering. But no one should doubt the tremendous power projection capabilities that the United States can bring to bear, should we be resolved to do so. The Iranians, as Professor Mead once pointed out, are not ten feet tall.
p.s. I am a young American living in Guangdong Province- glad to have you over here Professor Mead.
And what of the Loon’s US and EU sycophants?
What does Monitor Group “deserve?” Or Israel-basher Walt who, without so much as a fare-thee-well, took Loon’s dough for a feel-good trip to Libya? Or Tony Blair, whose intelligence services aided Loon in spying on Libyan opposition groups in London? Or “Calypso Louis” Farrakhan and Cynthia McKinney who took his money and praised him to the rafters?
The list goes on but you get the point.
Excellent short essay from Professor Mead and I agree with every word. However, in the celebrations over the Loon’s death we are overlooking the fact that the prospects for building a decent society in Libya are pretty grim. The recent attempt by a Libyan-born Jew to reopen a synagogue in Tripoli, which nearly ended with his lynching, is a harbinger of how the new regime and the corrupted society the Loon left behind are likely to deal with other ethnic and religious minorities. For that matter, the death of the Loon itself, however well deserved, bears a certain ugly resemblance to the fate of Nicolae Ceauşescu of late unmourned memory. That is, the successor regime in Libya, as in 1989 Romania, is dominated by rats from the ancien regime who jumped ship when they saw it was sinking, and doubtless wanted the dictator silenced so he could not take them down with him by exposing their own crimes in his service. The night of Qaddafi’s evil is over, but the dawn is a very gray one indeed.
Nonsense. The Great Loon is dead because he threatened to cut off the Euros from his sweet crude earlier in the year. Not because he was a monster. Not because he murder his own people.
Because he threatened to cut off Frances oil.
And that’s the only lesson for Assad to draw from it.
Whatever happens we have got: Predators drones. And they have not.
“if something must be done we would rather do it under the aegis of the UN, but we will do it with less prestigious blessings if we must.”
‘Prestigous blessings’? Only a liberal could impute religious holiness to a political whorehouse like the UN.
As for the comparative prestige between the USA and the UN, its pretty obvious which one has done more good and stopped more evil in its time. But if you are unclear on the point, you might try talking to some of the Muslims survivors of Srebrenica.
I don’t quite agree.
Khadaffy had an agreement to give up his WMD program and quit training and exporting terrorists in exchange for us to not go after his removal (something about not wanting to be hunted down like Saddam).
The USA has violated that agreement.
How likely is every thug country to believe that they NEED WMDs to keep the US out? And if we had failed, how likely was Khadaffy to restart his WMD program? And how likely is a Islamic Supremacist government to take over the country of Libya now? And how much are ANY stable Muslim authoritative governments going to trust any prior or even long-standing agreements with the USA? How thoroughly will we be stabbed in the back as a result of “get them before the USA betrays us too” mindsets the USA has now justified?
It seems our President manufactured a lose-lose-lose-lose situation to inveigle the USA into, to our certain eventual detriment.
For those of a certain age,we remember when the Great Loon was a darling of the American left. He was a supporter of our violent types, like the Weathermen. Didn’t he also shelter a black Panther or two? It would be interesting to go digging to see what Obama’s friends in their old violent leftist days were saying about the Great Loon. My, how times change.
Oh, yes, can you name a single example in history where a mob uprising led to a liberal Democracy? I think we will see in the coming years why all Arab countries have been secular dictatorships.
Does the American Revolution not count as a “mob uprising”?
There is not much I would add to this. I agree with almost all of it. A good summation.
Way to US centric. I seem to recall other countries being involved somehow.
This operation was a French/British op., with the US providing airpower and intel. This was payback for Lockerbie.
This has zero implications for US policy.
I agree with everything joel says. When this episode began I predicted that we would end up assassinating a foreign head of state and this we have done by proxy. The “rebels” could not have accomplished this feat without considerable direct help from us. It sets a terrible precedent, and brings our executive office one step closer to having a personal military that can be directed unilaterally and without a check by the legislature. One step further and you have Sulla and proscriptions.
Once again Mr. Obama plays from Mr. Bush’s playbook on wars abroad, but tries to twist it to have his cake and eat it too.
Had Mr. Bush attacked Libya there would be screams from the left that we left the country in a worse mess than when we found it. Mr. Obama, however, can walk away from the train wreck unscathed.
The lesson here is that only Liberal Democracts like Mr. Obama and Mr. Clinton are allowed to fight wars. Responsible politicans like the Bushes are not allowed, especially when they try to actually win the peace after winning the war itself.
Dear Stephen J.
The American Revolution was NOT a mob uprising.
It was a revolt by the rich and educated upper crust of the colonies against the crown. Their Constitution was anything but a mandate for a rule by the masses. The leaders of the Revolution despised the mob.
Just an item of interesting reading:
You should read some history. Notice the great respect for human rights and life demonstrated in this event, compared to the barbarism of the Libyan fighters.
Tell me. How much formal education do have?
You may be right about American military superiority as it stands at this moment. But if Obama and the Democrats have their way, that will end: they have already set in place a mechanism to make ruinous cuts in our military budget. That fact is why we bemoan American decline: we’re like a train going at 80 miles per hour but with the fuel line cut and leaking. We will continue to run for a while, but in the end the train must come to a stop.
While it couldn’t have happened to a nicer guy, I believe in a few years we’ll long for the days of the Great Loon. Bad as he was, he kept order. Joel is absolutely right. What happens now is a period of anarchy and brutal tribal warfare until one tribe emerges strong enough to impose a new dictatorship. Someone said “Libya will have a long and winding road to democracy.” Nonsense. Libya will have a short and bloody road to dictatorship, probably Islamist. Americans are very naive. We want so desperately to believe that the problems in Middle Eastern cultures come from brutal, primitive, corrupt leadership that we ignore the fact that the leadership only reflects the cultures out of which it emerges. It’s the brutal, primitive, corrupt cultures of the Middle East that are the problem. And we can’t change that, at least not without a brutality that no contemporary Western culture could stomach.
So much for the rule of law between nations. To see international relations are still red in tooth and claw punctuated by gentlemen’s agreements defining temporary table manners must be disconcerting for some. When the first Catholic president JFK signed off on Catholic President Diems coup removal no one gave it much thought, and the unintended consequences didn’t turn out all that well. Surely no one confused that coup with a revolution?
Actually, beginning with the tightly organized network of Committees of Correspondence (in all thirteen colonies, by the way), the American Revolution was anything but a mob uprising.
Even the more famous mob actions–for example, the Boston Tea Party–white men donning Mohawk Indian costumes who just happened to target the three tea carrying ships anchored in Boston Harbor, was hardly a mob action. The same evening, the other symbols of British authority in Boston were mysteriously left alone.
There were some spontaneous mobs (New York saw a few riots) but in comparative terms, our Revolution was fairly mob-free.
Let’s cut the [stuff I disagree with] here about US policy this and that, and admit that the entire Libyan operation was about Light Sweet Humanitarian Aid. And the tons of Gold held in vaults there didn’t hurt either. This whole MENA meltdown is going to come back to haunt us very soon.
The Arab Spring is a result of the American Culture being imposed on Iraq, this strategic cultural judo has caused movement in the moribund, frozen, and stagnate Islamic cultures. Tyrants in cages in courtrooms, and Purple fingers raised aloft are all symbols of American Cultural Victory, and Islamic cultural submission.
No, it does not. The men who led the American Revolution were strong believers in the rule of law and feared mob rule. It may surprise people nowadays but John Adams and Benjamin Franklin both thought the Boston Tea Party was a bad idea and Franklin thought the East India Company should have been compensated. Washington tried and largely succeeded in making the Continental Army into a disciplined fighting force and not just a mob.
One of the events that led to the Constitutional Convention was Shay’s Rebellion. Many of the leaders of the United States feared that without a strong government such public unrest would increase, etc.
So no, the American Revolution could be considered the anti-mob uprising.
Congrats to you for a beautifully written and well thought R.I.P. for Gaddafi. Also a hat tip to our young compatriot Mr Yahr for his nicely phrased reply, although how we can stand living in Guongdong Province is beyond me…but then I am rather old.
I especially appreciate your all-too brief mention of Bush as the guy with the guts to change course from Realpolitik a la Scowcroft; an unsustainable kicking of the can. I believe that history will bear me out when I say that Iraq was the true game changer. A successful war prosecuted against the nastiest series of attacks issued on a POTUS since Lincoln. A war that created a second template (besides, with a few exceptions, brutal corrupt dictatorships and Monarchies) for the citizens of the Middle East to consider and possibly follow. After we leave Iraq, hopefully their messy Democracy will survive and we will be proven to be good as our word in not creating a permanent presence.
I would also take exception of putting Obama in the same category as he was dragged and embarassed into lending support to NATO efforts at regime change led by France and the UK.
As for asymetrical warfare: we could be much more effective if allowed to truly fight a war instead of having one hand tied by the hapless craven politicians and ultra-squeamish anti-war Left (I call it CNN warfare) ever since Vietnam.
Agreed, The Loon needed removal….but.
There’s always a “but”.
Though The Loon is dead (with American assistance) and richly deserved it, we now have virtually no way to affect the outcome in Libya. Remember when we traded the autocratic Shah for the mullahs?
Libya is not over yet. If we’re depending on the gratitude of the Libyan people to give us leverage with them, we’re playing a fools game. Gratitude lasts until it collides with local desires.
Great Loon Now Late Goon