As far as I’m concerned there are no good arguments for intervention in Libya. Reports that we’ve saved 100,000 lives there strike me as no better than propaganda. After all, 100,000 was the number of those killed in the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II – the deadliest day of that war. I have a hard time believing that Qaddafi would even be capable of that sort of devastation. Reports of only a thousand rebel troops also strike me as little more than bragging on the part of rebels. We should be skeptical of these things.
That the Libyans are hugging downed American airmen and showering them with thanks is eerily reminiscent of all those Iraqis greeted us as liberators not quite a decade ago, throwing their shoes first at the toppling statues of Saddam Hussein and then later at their liberator, George W. Bush.
Liberal and neoconservative hawks, and diehard supporters of Obama, can tick off a whole host of reasons to support this intervention. The first among these is that it is merely humanitarian, a mission to save the lives of Libyan civilians. Similar arguments were made about Iraq. Often Rwanda is invoked, or Bosnia. Over one hundred thousand civilians have been killed in Iraq since operations began in 2003. (That number again! Perhaps we have atoned for the hundred thousand killed in Iraq by the hundred thousand saved in Libya…) Nobody can say for sure what would have happened in Rwanda, though it is almost certain that any intervention would have been too little, too late.
I am deeply troubled by the enthusiasm for this latest American invasion of Arab lands – whether from Juan Cole or Bill Kristol – no matter its humanitarian trappings, no matter the D next to the current president’s name, no matter the lives saved with our oh-so-smart smart bombs, no matter the much more impressive coalition of the willing we have gathered around us this time. None of this matters. We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.
P.P.S. – Ross Douthat has similar thoughts.