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Permanent War, II

President Obama Telling Us Why We're in Libya

[AP]

It’s been two weeks since I wrote, on the eve of our entry into war in Libya, about the pending action and wondered what the point of the 2008 election was. I’ve been too discouraged by events since then to want to comment further. And now the lead story in tomorrow’s NYT is the report by Mark Mazzetti and Eric Schmitt that the

Central Intelligence Agency has inserted clandestine operatives into Libya to gather intelligence for military airstrikes and to contact and vet the beleaguered rebels battling Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s forces, according to American officials.

While President Obama has insisted that no American military ground troops participate in the Libyan campaign, small groups of C.I.A. operatives have been working in Libya for several weeks as part of a shadow force of Westerners that the Obama administration hopes can help bleed Colonel Qaddafi’s military, the officials said.

There was a time, many decades ago, when I was naive enough to picture the advisors that Kennedy was sending to South Vietnam as just that. Advisors. Showing the South Vietnamese the proper way to clean guns. Or something like that. I didn’t know exactly. But they weren’t in combat or anything. That didn’t enter my mind. I still may be naive, but come on. We’re at war now. Can’t we just say so? And debate it properly? And, you know, let Congress vote on it, though they’ll surely just rubber stamp our actions, as they did long ago with Tonkin Gulf and have done ever since.

As for Obama’s speech two nights ago, I’ll quote comments from two blog posts yesterday. First, an excerpt from Amy Davidson’s post at the New Yorker, which should be read in full:

[T]he suggestion that those with doubts about entering this war—without much of a plan, without real consultation with Congress—were arguing against ever doing anything “on behalf of what is right” is, to say the least, overly broad. Does Obama really think that the only morally steady position is one that endorses the current air campaign—that not agreeing with him means turning “a blind eye to atrocities,” and that anything short of close to two hundred cruise missiles “would have been a betrayal of who we are”?

Second, the closing remarks from one of Daniel Larison’s many eloquent and well-reasoned posts in recent days about the war:

Right now, if you’re a Libyan and you’re not on the side of the rebels, you have some good reasons to fear American planes overhead. Even anti-Gaddafi civilians in cities controlled by Gaddafi’s forces are going to have reason to be afraid of the gunships and tank-killers buzzing overhead. Restrictive rules of engagement, precision weapons, and training notwithstanding, all of the people living in Sirte and Tripoli have good reasons to be afraid. The ease with which humanitarian interventionists seem to forget that they are cheering on the deliberate killing of people who have done nothing to them and theirs is bad enough, but the notion that America is making great moral progress if it uses force to kill the right sorts of people for the right reasons, and especially when the conflict has nothing to do with us, is simply evil.

Amen

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Categories: Politics, War
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