Thursday, October 27, 2011

Andrew McCarthy on the Brutalization of American Foreign Policy

Andrew McCarthy eviscerates the go along-get along supporters of the current administration's "get Qaddafi" policy (especially Republican Senator Lindsey Graham). What Obama policy really means is not only imposing another brutal regime on Libya. It has also resulted in the strengthening of jihadist terrorists as well as undermined the very principles of American democracy and basic ethics of keeping one's word.

First there's the disjunction between those squeamish about waterboarding (done to get crucial information and which did no permanent harm to the three men questioned) but okay with torture and assassination.
"Qaddafi’s escape from his last holdout was thus cut off by NATO airstrikes. Trapped and hidden in a sewer, he was dragged out and brutalized — not for intelligence, but for sport. There is video here if you can stomach it. What NATO abetted was not a military capture. It was an assassination. We will be worse off that it happened. And the way it happened should sicken us."
Then there's the hypocrisy of turning on a dime in feting Qaddafi one day and making him public enemy #1 the next.
"In 'leading from behind', our government went rogue — to the evident satisfaction of the formerly antiwar Left. Obama claimed to be keeping the peace and protecting civilians while waging an unauthorized offensive war against Qaddafi’s government — a regime with which the United States was at peace; a regime with which the United States had made a great show of arriving at friendly relations; a regime to which the United States (urged on by such official emissaries as Sen. Lindsey Graham) had provided foreign aid, including assistance to prop up Qaddafi’s military; a regime to which the Obama administration, including Secretary Clinton’s State Department, had stepped up American taxpayer subsidies — including aid to Qaddafi’s military and contributions to charitable enterprises managed by Qaddafi’s children."
And for what purpose? To protect innocent civilians?
"Protecting civilians? Please. We jumped in as a partisan on the side of the Islamists, who sported violent jihadists in their ranks and among their commanders — including al-Qaeda operatives whose dossiers included a stint at Guantanamo Bay and the recruitment of jihadists to fight a terror war against American troops in Iraq. While NATO targeted Qaddafi, the rebels rounded up black Africans, savagely killing many. (See, e.g., John Rosenthal’s reporting on summary executions, lynching, and a beheading — but be forewarned that the accompanying images are deeply disturbing.)

"When the Islamists finally began seizing territory, which they could not have done without NATO, they raided weapons depots. In Qaddafi’s Libya, his regime controlled the materiel; once the “rebels” swept in, weapons started going out — to other Islamists, like al-Qaeda in Northwest Africa and Hamas in Gaza."
[emphasis added]
Then there's the hypocritical undermining of American legal processes and protections.
"That is not to say the administration was above frivolous legal claims. President Obama overruled administration lawyers who ever so gently pointed out that his sustained war-making ran afoul of the War Powers Act — a suspect piece of legislation, but one the administration was loath to ignore given Obama’s support of it (at least until he became the president whose hands it tied). Not to worry: Obama reached outside his Justice Department to find his trusty State Department counsel Harold Koh — the former Yale Law School dean, War Powers Act enthusiast, and incessant critic of the cowboy militarism of George W. Bush (you may recall Bush as the president who used to get Congress’s blessing before attacking other countries). Presto: Koh rationalized that invading Libya, dropping bombs on it, and trying to kill its leader didn’t quite rise to the level of “hostilities” — suddenly, a very elusive concept. Party on, dudes!"
[emphasis added]
Andrew McCarthy's bottom line: Qaddafi was better than the violent thugs who are following him and threatening not only their own people but the rest of the world. Further, our complicity in facilitating mob "justice" against a former heavily lauded and supported "ally" who has engaged in no recent anti-US, let alone warlike, acts is a dangerous foreign policy precedent calling into question whether we have any principles.
"Yes, Qaddafi was a creep. If we lived in a static, zero-sum world where the killing of a single creep equaled a net decrease in global creepiness, that might be cause for cartwheels. But the world is dynamic. When one leader is ousted, another takes his place. Even if the leader happened to be a tyrant with a yellowing résumé of anti-American terrorism, it matters what his status is when the Arab Spring comes a-callin’. It matters who replaces him and how that transition comes to pass. The changing threat environment matters. The example we set, what it tells others about our principles, matters.

"To borrow Mr. Wallace’s phrase, I am not 'suggesting that we would be better off with the Qaddafi dictatorship still in effect.' I am saying it outright. If the choice is between an emerging Islamist regime and a Qaddafi dictatorship that cooperates with the United States against Islamists, then I’ll take Qaddafi. If the choice is between tolerating the Qaddafi dictatorship and disgracing ourselves by lying about the reason for initiating a war and by turning a blind eye to the atrocities of our new Islamist friends — even as we pontificate about the responsibility to protect civilians — then give me the Qaddafi dictatorship every time."
[emphasis added]


MAX Redline said...

The most ethical and transparent administration in the history of the country seems oddly, um...dictatorial.

Oh, right - all of this bombing and stuff is all Bush's fault.

As a writer for Arab News put it:

Last Saturday in his radio address to his own people and over the Internet to those around the world who still think he is worth listening to, President Barack Obama said, “This week we had two powerful reminders of how we've renewed American leadership in the world.” That made me wonder which of the two d's should be applied to him — duplicitous or deluded.

I'm not sure that we need to choose.

T. D. said...

Yes. Both dictatorial and without any real foreign policy principles.

Thanks for your comment, Max!