What precisely is exercise of U.S. power regarding Libya seeking to achieve? Removing Khaddaffi?
Khaddaffi the man is perhaps a necessary component of an unarticulated U.S. policy, but not sufficient in and of itself. We all know removing the man alone can not be the U.S. policy. After all, the Bush Administration happily worked with Khaddaffi after 2003, opening the door to economic and political collaboration.
The former ruling regime’s crimes are too obvious now. Its time over. Yet who is the ‘opposition’ embraced so fulsomely? No one knows. We don’t refer to the rote tribal breakdown of the Eastern and Western regions; this recital is no answer. Simply wanting Khaddafi out is apparently enough. So again we ask, what is the U.S. policy to be supported by exercise of U.S. power? And who, if any, in the opposition plausibly is a part of that?
Old imperial habits die hard. Reflexively, policy makers reach for comfortable trappings of a slipping era: carrier battle groups, special forces, no fly zones, the NATO fig leaf etc. Libya presents a chance to be seen doing/talking about something in contrast to political paralysis before domestic fiscal and social collapse. American leadership apparently still hasn’t learned that such Middle East exertions are ephemeral and self-defeating. Ironically, perhaps only the final dissipation of American power may allow that reality to sink in.