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Lessons of Libya
Posted By James Carafano On October 21, 2011 @ 12:33 pm In International | Comments Disabled
That indigenous forces backed by Western military power could overthrow an odious unpopular regime backed by a second-rate military ought to come as no surprise. That was, after all, exactly what the Bush Administration did in Afghanistan.
In fact, operationally, the fall of Kabul looks a lot like the fall of Tripoli. As we now know, toppling the Taliban was not the last chapter in U.S. involvement in Afghanistan, nor was it a precedent for the “future way of war” (in and out with a minimal footprint) as it was much predicted at the time.
As with Afghanistan, perils in Libya may be far from over. The nation is awash with weapons not controlled by the government. Remnants of the old regime may continue to go on fighting. Extremists may yet make their presence felt.
So too the Obama Administration ought not to look to Libya as a model for exercising global leadership or safeguarding U.S. vital national interests. Getting rid of Qadhafi was not and should not have been the only objective, and it should not be the sole criterion for judging the success of the policy. We are glad that Qadhafi is gone, and we praise the tactical success of U.S. and NATO arms. But the larger questions, for future reference and precedent, still remain.
We should also reserve final judgment of the policy until we see what happens next in Libya. But regardless of how things turn out, there are three truisms worth remembering:
In many ways, the President’s use of force in Libya sets poor precedents for how the U.S. should use military power to deal with the dangers of the 21st century. That is a truism that should not be lost—even as we celebrate the demise of one of the world’s worst dictators.
Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org
URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2011/10/21/lessons-of-libya/
URLs in this post:
 even greater threat: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/03/Libya-Intervention-Obama-Wrongly-Adopts-UN-Responsibility-to-Protect
 more than enough time to consult with Congress: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/06/Libya-How-Congress-Should-Speak-to-the-White-House
 The U.S. cannot defend itself on the cheap: http://www.heritage.org/Research/Reports/2011/07/Slashing-Defense-Makes-America-Less-Safe
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