Liberal War Illusions

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You don’t just walk up to the local bully and slap him across the face. If you are determined to confront him, then you try to knock the living daylights out of him. Otherwise, you are better off to leave him alone.

Anyone who grew up in my old neighborhood in Harlem could have told you that. But Barack Obama didn’t grow up in my old neighborhood. He had a much more genteel upbringing, including a fancy private school, in Hawaii.

Maybe that is why he thinks he can launch military operations against Moammar Qaddafi, while promising not to kill him and promising that no American ground troops will be used.

It is the old liberal illusion that you can measure out force with a teaspoon, not only in military operations micro-managed by civilians in Washington, like the Vietnam war, but also in domestic confrontations when the police are trying to control a rioting mob, and are being restrained by politicians, while the mob is restrained by nobody.

We went that route in the 1960s, and the results were not inspiring, either domestically or internationally.

The old saying, “When you strike at a king, you must kill him,” is especially apt when it comes to attacking a widely recognized sponsor of international terrorism like Colonel Qaddafi. To attack him without destroying his regime is just asking for increased terrorism against Americans and America’s allies. So is replacing him with insurgents who include other sponsors of terrorism.

President Obama’s Monday night speech was long on rhetoric and short on logic. He said: “I believe that this movement of change cannot be turned back, and that we must stand alongside those who believe in the same core principles that have guided us.”

Just what would lead him to conclude that this includes the largely unknown forces who are trying to seize power in Libya?

Too often in the past, going all the way back to the days of Woodrow Wilson, we have operated on the assumption that a bad government becomes better after the magic of “change.” President Wilson said that we were fighting the First World War to make the way “safe for democracy.” But what actually followed was the replacement of autocratic monarchies by totalitarian dictatorships that made previous despots pale by comparison.

The most charitable explanation for President Obama’s incoherent policy in Libya— if incoherence can be called a policy — is that he suffers from the long-standing blind spot of the left when it comes to the use of force.

A less charitable and more likely explanation is that Obama is treating the war in Libya as he treats all sorts of other things, as actions designed above all to serve his own political interests and ideological visions.

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  • vlparker

    As usual Dr. Sowell nails it. Being from Illinois and familiar with Obama's track record iin the Illinois senate I knew what we were getting. If the voting public would ever do their homework before an election and ignore the debates and rhetoric they would know too.

  • Chezwick_Mac

    SOWELL: "President Obama started alienating our staunchest allies, Britain and Israel, from his earliest days in office…"

    Let's not forget his (and the Democratic Party's) treatment of Colombia, a friend and ally which has braved and essentially triumphed over a vicious narco-insurgency in ways Mexico could only dream of, and yet is denied a free-trade treaty with America because of the staunch opposition of the AFL-CIO, Castro, Chavez and many others on the left who romanticize Colombia's FARC guerrillas (the only folks in the region who DON'T romanticize FARC are the Colombian people themselves, where FARC's approval rating hovers consistently around 5%). Colombia cooperates with us in a myriad of ways, including offering us multiple anti-narco intelligence posts and bases…and yet, it is left twisting in the wind economically so that Obama can placate his leftist friends.

    And let's not forget Honduras, where former President Zaleya attempted to usurp dictatorial control of his country against the concerted efforts of the Honduran Parliament (dominated by HIS OWN PARTY) AND its Supreme Court, both of which ruled his power-play to be unconstitutional. While Obama followed Castro and Chavez in slapping on economic sanctions because the country's institutions refused to succumb to dictatorship, let's remember that even the hyper-liberal Europeans refused to go along, recognizing the right of Honduras to impeach its president and remain a democratic state. Eventually, Hillary prevailed upon Barak to withdraw the sanctions, but the action revealed the extent to which Obama's instincts and interests are inimical to the those of the United States and the free world.

  • Paul Joseph

    "Obama's… inimical to… the United States…"

  • Michael

    What do you expect from 13th Imam?The elections have consequences!