Tuesday, March 29, 2011

A Grudging Acceptance

Andrew Sullivan examines the President's words:

The Libyan example was particularly vital because a rare constellation of forces came together to make turning away even harder: European and Arab support for preventing mass murder; UN permission; America's "unique" capabilities; and an imminent massacre in Benghazi.

Obama the Niebuhrian put the moral in realism. Yes, we could not do this everywhere all the time; but we could do this when we did; and that was good enough.

I'll add only a few things. This felt like a tremendous gamble, militarily, internationally, and politically. But I'm not privy to the cards held in the hand of the American President.

While I still believe in the internationalism embodied by the UN, and the good that can be done in the face of humanitarian disaster, even the best of intentions can blow up in your face. I'm still not sold, and we know not what we will reap from the continued entrenchment of a Presidency so imperial that no Congressional approval of any kind is needed before committing troops to an intervention of choice. Today's internationalism is yesterday's tomorrow's war of choice.

Which reminds me, especially as I read Sullivan, how we are still fighting the last war, literally and politically.

Though I grudgingly admit: our alliance has so far prevented a true humanitarian crisis; our alliance has so far been welcomed as liberating; Quaddafi is responsible for more terrorist attacks on NATO members than Saddam Hussien could manufacture in his wildest dreams - and an attack on one is an attack on all; the Arab Spring continues; and this has so far been the most efficient international intervention in memory.

But this chapter of history is not yet in the books. So many things have yet to be resolved, and there ought be no desire to wave a Mission Accomplished banner over the proceedings until we are damn sure it really is over.

I don't have to like the bet to hope the gamble pays off.


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