Of course there’s plenty of political posturing and framing, but the crux of Kurtz’ argument is interesting:
‘Most of the commentary on Libya has focused on the tension between Obama’s apparent desire to displace Qaddafi and his reluctance to admit to it. But the chief reason for this intervention is the one that’s staring us in the face. Obama dithered when it was simply a matter of replacing Qaddafi, yet quickly acted when slaughter in Benghazi became the issue. What Samantha Power and her supporters want is to solidify the principle of “responsibility to protect” in international law.’
In my ignorance, I’ve been using the term ‘liberal internationalist’ because it seems to work. Obama seems reluctant to use any sort of American military power. I’m assuming his guiding ideas are mostly Western, and liberal humanitarian and universalist in foreign policy. He’s seeking to use international framework (to please the base…the independents who voted him in?), and as Kurtz notes, even walking close to the line of subsuming American sovereignty to that international framework. The downside risks aren’t just a protracted war in Libya, but getting burned by even our closer allies as we still carry most of the water.
Clearly, the U.N. has legitimacy and structural issues, and the Bush team was reluctant to gain U.N. approval. Perhaps now Obama is being overly deferential? What would be some consequences of Power’s theories?
Also, how are the two most recent president’s definitions of freedom (Bush’s human freedom…Obama’s arc of history…) getting crafted into foreign policy? Any president will have to deal with the bureaucratic and institutional structures in place.
Related On This Site: Walter Russell Mead At The American Interest Online: ‘Obama’s War’…From The WSJ: “Allies Rally To Stop Gadhafi”…From March 27th, 2009 At WhiteHouse.Gov: Remarks By The President On A New Strategy For Afghanistan And Pakistan…From CSIS: ‘Turmoil In The Middle-East’…From The New Yorker: ‘How Qaddafi Lost Libya’