A Philosopher's Blog


Posted in Politics by Michael LaBossiere on August 25, 2011
Coat of arms of Libya -- the "Hawk of Qur...

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Since being at war seems to be our natural state it is hardly surprising that our three main wars have drifted in and out of media focus. Our most recent war, Libya, seems to be going the best. While we are providing critical air power and support, the actual ground fighting is not dominated by American forces. Also, this war has been rather cheap as far as wars go-mainly because others are involved and we are not (at least not yet) dumping truckloads of cash in an attempt at “nation building.”

At this point, the rebel forces seem to be well on the path to victory. The obvious questions now are “what happens next?” and “what will the role of the United States be?” As far as what happens next, the most likely scenario is that Gadhafi will come to a bad end and the rebels will be faced with sorting out who will run the show. This might lead to another round of fighting or there might be  a more peaceful solution.

The role of the United States hinges, obviously enough, on how things pan out with the rebels. So far we have followed a a fairly limited engagement strategy and have not gone the invasion route that has proved rather costly in Iraq and Afghanistan. Though the situation might change, I see little advantage in having yet another invasion. Given our economy and our involvement in two other wars it would make sense to keep our involvement in Libya limited.

That said, there is the concern that the  post-Gadhafi Libya might be such that the United States will need to step up its level of involvement. After all, Libya has oil and has some strategic importance. We certainly would not want, for example, the Chinese to gain too much influence in the region. Ideally, of course, the rebels will create a stable and pro-Western government. Failing that, perhaps we can get the French to take this one.

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11 Responses

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  1. T. J. Babson said, on August 25, 2011 at 7:24 am

    “Also, this war has been rather cheap as far as wars go…”

    It did cost us the War Powers Act as Obama did not bother to consult with Congress. Future presidents will likely dispense with it as well, citing Libya as a precedent.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 25, 2011 at 7:45 pm

      That does worry me. While I do recognize the need for a rapid response, long term operations (like Libya) should be handled as the Constitution specifies. The Founders made sure the President was not a king for some very good reasons and it seems quite wise to follow that lead.

  2. dhammett said, on August 25, 2011 at 1:59 pm

    On the positive side: Over the years some have complained that the War Powers Act has its weaknesses. I know it’s not something Congress likes to do, but perhaps it’s time for them to revisit the legislation with an eye toward improving it.

    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 25, 2011 at 7:46 pm

      Many commentators have noted that Congress seems less and less inclined to act, preferring to pass decisions on to others. By letting Obama do what he wanted in Libya, they freed themselves from the need to act. At least for now.

  3. Anonymous said, on August 26, 2011 at 9:43 am


    While less expensive at the moment, I regard the Libyan war as far less cogently initiated than the Iraq War. Gadaffi isn’t even close to the scale of madman that Saddam was, in fact Gaddafi was removed from the US’s list of international terrorists in 2007. He was indeed trying to kill Libyans–the ones that were trying to kill him. He had renounced terrorism, given up all his nuclear materials, and had one of the best programs for reintegrating radicals in the world, next to the Saudis.

    In fact, Gadaffi was the ally of the West. He was just another Arab, no different than almost all Arab rulers. Libya and the world is now less secure. Gadaffi was not committing war crimes, or crimes against humanity. He was defending the state of Libya. I don’t personally like him, but he broke no laws as far as I can see and presented no threat to the West, unlike Saddam, who did both.


    • Michael LaBossiere said, on August 26, 2011 at 3:36 pm

      When we started up in Libya I do recall some of the more critical pundits noting that the West had been very close to Gaddafi and that he had been apparently mending his ways. However, I won’t be sorry when he is gone…unless someone worse takes his place.

      • magus71 said, on August 26, 2011 at 4:59 pm

        Leaving who takes the place of Arab leaders to chance is usually a bad idea.

  4. magus71 said, on August 26, 2011 at 10:49 am



    “The claim that the intervention “saved thousands of lives” was thus wholly conjectural, and must be set against the thousands that have certainly been lost, and may yet be lost, through the intervention.”

  5. WTP said, on August 26, 2011 at 1:51 pm

    I think the risk is well worth it. This guy was no “friend” to the West, he was simply an opportunist and he would go whichever way the wind blows that would allow him to stay in power. I do not doubt that he committed crimes against humanity, just in regard to his own people. He killed Americans on that Pan Am flight and, IIRC, US soldiers in Germany. I’m sure he’s done even more evil to the US and the West that we may just now find out about. We’re not talking about a Mubarak or Shah of Iran here. This guy was evil.

    Now, granted, he was an entertaining SOB, as murderous thugs go. Though to me that was just a ploy to soften his image. I’m not discounting the fact that evil may take his place, but it will be far less stable and it will keep other evil SOB’s busy. Libya would be a far easier place to tangle with al-Q, etc. than Afghanistan. That was one positive I saw in Iraq, it drew some of our enemies out into the relative open, into terrain we could fight much easier in. BBut that’s just my somewhat ignorant perception of what’s doable in war. I defer to you on that part, .Magus

  6. T. J. Babson said, on September 5, 2011 at 12:46 pm

    Libyan rebels round up black Africans

    TRIPOLI, Libya (AP) — Rebel forces and armed civilians are rounding up thousands of black Libyans and migrants from sub-Sahara Africa, accusing them of fighting for ousted strongman Moammar Gadhafi and holding them in makeshift jails across the capital.

    Virtually all of the detainees say they are innocent migrant workers, and in most cases there is no evidence that they are lying. But that is not stopping the rebels from placing the men in facilities like the Gate of the Sea sports club, where about 200 detainees — all black — clustered on a soccer field this week, bunching against a high wall to avoid the scorching sun.


  7. magus71 said, on September 24, 2012 at 4:55 pm

    Can I say, “I told you so?, yet?

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