I know the title is inflammatory, but this is important. This is historic...and we're not putting up any kind of a fight. I'm feeling echoes of early 2003, unfortunately, that are presumably not resonant due to the "international" character of the current conflict in Libya. For one, the U.S. Congress is even less involved in this decision--one that has brought us to the brink of war--than it was in passing both AUMFs. Even worse, Obama used to be a constitutional law professor. Used to be.
There's an even bigger problem here, though. Rhetoric aside about our coalition, the U.S. simply will bear the brunt of this situation and supply the bulk of the resources to topple Gadaffi. The Arab League is not currently attacking Libya; the Western Powers are, and that's the narrative the madman has already begun playing to the hilt (especially by alleging civilian deaths at our hands).
Meanwhile, words like debt and "the budget" suddenly, and curiously, stopped being mentioned altogether this week. Humanitarian aid to Japan I get. Unilateral Executive action of this magnitude creating a commitment that will cost an untold number of U.S. dollars, I do not.
The Obama Doctrine articulated today is, in practice, far more expansive than he'd like. I'd suggest we start asking (and answering) these questions sooner--much sooner--rather than later: Are we going to intervene whenever the next madman inevitably kills his own people? How many? (We know China has shown the willingness to kill and imprison. Same goes with a horde of African nations--see the recent deaths of innocent pregnant women, e.g. in the Ivory Coast--and our friend Saudi Arabia.) Are we going to side with rebels whenever they fight a tyrant? Do we need to know who the rebels are? How many more innocents might die in our escalated involvement?
I hate madmen and abhor the killing of civilians as much as the next person...but there's consequences to every action. There's a balance of interests to be weighed here. I fear, unfortunately, we have come out on the wrong end.
This goes beyond avoiding cheerleading prematurely when innocent people are still dying. This is about living up to the lessons of early 2003, and questioning our leaders.