Sometimes, even an indecisive stance can be wrong. When it comes to the international intervention in Libya, until recent days, I was indecisive, and I was wrong.
A couple of days ago, I got off that fence, and actually came down on the side I had been leaning away from (as evidenced by a short quip in this article I recently wrote). Before I could post anything on that subject, Juan Cole posted an outstanding argument supporting the current international intervention. You should read it.
As always, my own thoughts are a little different, but I find nothing in Cole’s piece to disagree with.
My initial ambivalence was based on a number of factors. It was certainly clear enough to me that Qaddafi was preparing to seriously escalate his assault on the rebellious citizens in Libya, and there was every reason to believe that the casualty rate would be high and would include a good many uninvolved bystanders as well as the rebels.
But when the no-fly zone was first announced, it looked an awful lot like another American intervention without a clear exit strategy. I was concerned that the US was once again heading into a Muslim country without thinking through long-term considerations. Moreover, I was not only mistrustful of any international effort led by the US, UK and France, but was especially worried because it meant a Western military presence right next door to Tunisia and Egypt, and a greater concentration of Western forces in general near the sites of other potential revolutions.
I still have those concerns, and I think they’re healthy. Given the history of the three countries leading this effort, we should remain ever vigilant.
But in the end, none of this stacks up against what it was apparent Qaddafi was about to do. And there are more considerations here. Continue reading