When word came in that Muammar Gaddafi had been summarily executed by a shot to the head at point blank range, I imagine that President Obama must have been rather pleased with himself. After all, how could he not be? The Libyan conflict has followed his “smart power” approach to foreign affairs to the T: Multinational cooperation, Arab League backing, a UN Security Council Resolution and no U.S. ground troops had to get involved. Yet there was no authorization of any kind from the United States Congress, a minor inconvenience for a President more loved by other nations than by his own people. It was war conducted as a college professor would suggest — and it worked perfectly.
Or did it?
While it is certainly true that the Libyan conflict seems to have reached the preferred conclusion — namely, that the rebels have become victorious revolutionaries — several important questions remain to be answered and uncertainties addressed.
Firstly, what was the United State’s interest in aiding the Libyan Revolution? Unlike the other two wars that the U.S. is currently involved in, no clear — much less credible — reason exists for our intervention in the Libyan conflict. Gaddafi had scarcely posed a threat to anyone since the 1980s when, intimidated by President Reagan’s hard line against Communism and despotic leaders, he ended his attempts to assassinate Western leaders. Furthermore, Gaddafi abandoned Libya’s nuclear weapons program following the U.S. invasion of Iraq in early 2003 and had since sought wider acceptance in the Western world by supporting the War on Terror and repaying victims of terrorist acts sponsored by the Libyan government. By the end of his reign, he looked more like an ally of the West than one of its adversaries.
Second, who’s leading these rebels? Does the President know who they are? Does the U.N.? One need not look any further than Libya’s neighbor, Egypt, to see how the Obama Administration’s actions, with regard to the Arab Spring, have potentially hurt the interests of the U.S. and the Western World. In Egypt, the “peaceful” branch of the terrorist organization Hamas — the Muslim Brotherhood — is poised to take control of the new “democratic” government. Should they win control of the government, it is more than likely that they will take a more hostile attitude toward Israel than former President Hosni Mubarak. This will not only endanger Israel’s last remaining secure border, it will also complicate the Palestinian peace process by emboldening the Hamas-led Palestinian Authority. The provisional government of Libya has already announced that Libya’s new government will be based in Sharia law — a code of law that is completely antithetical to everything Americans hold dear. Though Sharia law has been “interpreted” to mean different things and Libya may, ostensibly, become a democracy, uncertainty remains over whether it will end up damaging U.S. interests and stand against the liberties we value.
Our President has risked much for these rebels. Not only has he spent billions of dollars to help them in a time of fiscal crisis, he has potentially further endangered the safety of the state of Israel and therefore the national security interests of the United States itself. One can only hope that the Libyan people ultimately decide to change course and follow in the footsteps of secular Turkey rather than the theocratic despots of Tehran.
Daily Nexus conservative columnist Jeffrey Robin urges President Obama to think less like a professor and more like a politician.