Our author, as he examines a New York Times piece on the growth of militias in Libya, points out that Libya is not doing so well:
‘Be that as it may, Shadid does his usual good job of selecting representative data to paint a larger canvas. And his conclusions, foreshadowed in the subtitles quoted above, are unmistakable: Things are bad in Libya, and they are liable to get a whole lot worse.’
Worth a read.
I’ve heard Libya hailed as a model for at least two reasons:
1. The U.S. is not committed to military engagement nor a long costly war in Libya. We don’t have troops on the ground, and have served to topple tyranny on the cheap, with a coalition of French and British capabilities. At the very least, we’ve let our European allies pursue their interests without doing all the dirty work for them. The West may at least sit back and observe the broken spirit of many Libyans, and the ruined institutions in Gadhafi’s wake from afar while the problems of Libya are to be solved by Libyans’ own self-determination or by diplomatic, humanitarian and coalitional efforts that could presumably be provided by the West.
This could be argued to be a form of neoconservatism lite (showing similar concern for human rights but with a less aggressive pursuit of American interests) or as a form of aggressive humanitarianism which still requires the threat of force behind it.
What seems to be lacking in this approach, as Garfinkle points out, is dealing with potential future threats to American security at home from another failed Muslim society with no functional State. Also, is the broader threat that many groups in the Middle-East pose to their own people and the West simply by following their stated goals to logical conclusions (the Hamas Charter, the holocaust-denying Iranian regime and Israel, Al-Qaeda and other groups that rely on Islamic grievance and moral absolutism). Liberal internationalism has limits.
2. The other argument runs that morally, this definition of freedom is more inclusive, and more considerate of “the will” of the people whose countries with whom we engage ourselves militarily. This administration’s goal has been to promote an ideal of freedom which it assumes to be universal and more appealing to the Muslim-on-the-street. I think it is in the hopes that this Muslim-on-the-street would not be as easily rallied behind the anti-American, anti-Western, anti-modern impulses that his authoritarian leaders and ruling parties would use for nationalistic aims, or that his “radical” Muslim cleric would use to foment violent and terroristic acts, or that his Muslim brotherhood would use for purposes of solidarity.
It is unsurprising that the domestic political base for such action at home is anti-colonial (MLK for Churchill), liberal internationalist (A New World Order), and might count among itself members of the New Left (where many of the Old Left have ended up, as the NY Times demonstrates).
Despite the successes or failures of this approach (and there are both), this blog is concerned about the limits of such ideas and their possible consequences, as well as the possible recoil here at home (due to the current political divide), and what that could mean foreign-policy wise in the coming years.
Related On This Site: Is Bernhard Henri-Levy actually influencing U.S. policy decisions? From New York Magazine: ‘European Superhero Quashes Libyan Dictator’…Bernhard Henri-Levy At The Daily Beast: ‘A Moral Tipping Point’…Charlie Rose Episode On Libya Featuring Bernhard Henri-Levy, Les Gelb And Others…
Do we try and invest in global institutions as flawed as they are…upon a Kantian raft…Kant often leads to a liberal political philosophy?: Daniel Deudney On YouTube Responding to Robert Kagan: Liberal Democracy Vs. Autocracy
John Mearsheimer’s offensive realism (Israel can’t go on like this forever, the Israel lobby leads to bad U.S policy decisions): Repost: From Foreign Affairs Via The A & L Daily: ‘Conflict Or Cooperation: Three Visions Revisited’…From The American Interest Online: Francis Fukuyama On Samuel Huntington….is neoconservative foreign policy defunct…sleeping…how does a neoconservatism more comfortable with liberalism here at home translate into foreign policy?: Wilfred McClay At First Things: ‘The Enduring Irving Kristol’