I don’t like how Fox News is already spinning the situation in Libya as America at war. Obviously they are just trying to breed doubt for the upcoming election. But is that really what America needs right now? Have we forgotten that we are trying to spread democracy in the middle east in Afghanistan and Iraq? Have we forgotten that we are in a world-wide war against terror? Last I remember, Qaddafi was a terrorist, and we need to be making democracy look like the system that can work for the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Apart from painting this as war, the Conservatives’ argument is that Obama may have acted unconstitutionally. According to laws passed after September 11th, the President can preemptively act against a terrorist or a nation housing a terrorist. Republicans, you should remember this, you praised it about ten years ago.
Congress is questioning the constitutionality of the President’s action. What is ironic is that they are citing the War Powers Act, which is Congressional legislation limiting executive powers. The Constitution gives the President the power to act as Commander in Chief. How constitutional is the War Powers Act? Don’t get me wrong, if we are about to go to war, I think the decision should lie with Congress as well, but we aren’t declaring war. Even according to the War Powers Act, the President still has 90 days to get approval, so I’m going to keep thinking that his actions were constitutional.
Let him act as the commander in chief. He got UN approval, he consulted our allies, and he’s passing it off on NATO. What more do you want from him? Not only is he laying down the law in a government-sponsored humanitarian crisis (even though we just glanced over Rwanda and Sudan, but hey, it’s a step forward), but he’s passing it off on our allies. If NATO steps in, (damnit Turkey, we gave you nukes didn’t we?), this would be the most brilliant foreign policy move since the days of Jimmy Carter.
Libya is very critical, not only to our successes in Iraq and Afghanistan, but also to the future of our foreign policy in the middle east. If we can depose Qaddafi, besides eliminating a known terrorist in power of a nation, it would be huge statement for the spread of democracy and our hegemony. NATO may not approve of our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan, but they are still our allies. They, too, should realize how crucial Libya is to their own security. If there is democracy west of Israel, democratic nations have control of the Mediterranean. If it fails there, we’ll have continued terrorist attacks in Europe, specifically Spain.
If NATO does decide to bail, I’m afraid we’ll have gotten ourselves into another conflict. It seems as though the killings in Libya have continued. United States intelligence officers in Africa have already stated that Qaddafi is “all in”. Then we’re committed. Not following up will invite aggression from other countries in the middle east. It will be seen as a failure by the United States in the face of tyranny. But also because it means NATO is a worthless alliance and the United States is alone. Are we ready to defend ourselves with a failure in Libya? Does a failure in Libya mean a failure in Iraq? Afghanistan? Will our sign of weakness be motivation for terrorist organizations and the Taliban?
I don’t think that will be the case. I think the way Obama has handled the situation will turn out to be a stroke of genius. Qaddafi realizes that he doesn’t have the power to fight the United States, much less NATO. If he calls it quits, after less than a week of actual conflict, that is a win for democracy, NATO, and the United States. Moreover, it is a step towards reversing the disgusting reputation of our hegemony. If the United States flexes its might in the name of democracy, it could be uplifting for the people of middle eastern nations that yearn for freedom and democracy, including the people of Iraq and Afghanistan.
Could that be enough of a signal to other leaders that are under the gun of their people? Bahrain? Syria? Iran? Could this usher in a new age in the middle east? This foreign policy stance, one of democratic ideals, not capitalist ones, is one that should be praised. Freedom is what we want, not exploitation, and those ideals should be universal. Qaddafi is a despot, and we should always oppose despots, especially when they invite our intervention. This is a war that people of the middle east, the ones who may ELECT their future leaders, approve of. Do we not want their approval? Do we not want a healthy relationship with the Middle East? We should support the democratic ideals that the people of these Middle Eastern nations share with us!
At the end of the day, we’re not at war. Obama promised that we should be out of this situation in days, not weeks. NATO, with the exception of Turkey, are in support of his actions. Qaddafi is rumored to be planning his exit strategy already. His air force is defeated, so we’ve done our job in enforcing the “no fly” zone. As far as Obama should be concerned, he did his job. It’s up to NATO, specifically Britain and France, to step up. If all goes as planned, we look fantastic at the end of the day. If not, then maybe we will have to go to war. Cross your fingers.