Some Long-View Considerations Regarding Libya
1. Some of the hawkish public affairs commentators could afford to calm down just a bit on the issue of Europe (France, in particular) leading the way on advocating for intervention in Libya, with the United States joining the effort later. You don’t have to believe that the world should return to a rigid great-powers spheres-of-influence system, to believe that a primary role for Europe is appropriate regarding decisions about international action in North Africa.
2. American leaders need to be aware that an intervention strategy based predominately on air power is not without long-term risks. The perception of American weakness that helped to fuel the September 11 attacks was created, in part, by a belief that become common in the 1990s that the United States would not go beyond long range air-strikes when attacked. If Gadafi’s regime survives a campaign that has incorporated US air power, and the US does nothing further, the credibility of the US deterrent shield takes the same kind of hit that it took in the 1990s.
3. It is almost tautological yet often forgotten that in nations where a leader basically is the government, the time when the leader is rapidly losing or has lost power is a time when major change will occur, whether it is designed or not. Those who fancy themselves to be “realists” need to understand that there is nothing “realistic” about a foreign policy that leaves the United States in a position unable to influence world events at the times and places where regimes are most susceptible to a broad range of influences on their future — not all of them consistent with goals that are favorable to the US. This applies to Egypt as well.
4. President Obama should have obtained an authorization from Congress for the current action in Libya.