President Obama’s recent explanation for militarily engaging Libya is yet another example of how U.S. leaders increasingly rationalize their policies via sentimental and idealistic platitudes, rather than reality or the long view””or just plain common sense.
In a speech replete with moralizing intonations, Obama did manage to evoke U.S. “interests–”six times””though he never explained what these are. Instead, we were admonished about “our responsibilities to our fellow human beings” and how not assisting them “would have been a betrayal of who we are.” Further, by juxtaposing America’s “interests” with its “values–”Obama did so twice in his Libya speech””indicates that he may see the two as near synonymous, though they certainly are not.
The closest thing to a fuzzy “interest” that Obama posited is the need to contain Libyan rebels from fleeing to and disrupting nearby nations, such as Egypt, a country of “democratic impulses” where “change will inspire us and raise hopes–”so an overly optimistic Obama observed. While there certainly are liberal, secular elements in Egypt’s revolution, increasing evidence””from an Islamist-inclined military that opens fire on its Christian minority, to the recent referendum which serves the Muslim Brotherhood“”indicates that, left to itself, Egypt is poised to look more like Iran than America.
Of course, the Obama administration is not against Islamists rising to power””so long as it is through the “will” of the people. As the Los Angeles Times put it, the administration “supports a role for groups such as the Muslim Brotherhood, a banned Islamist organization, in a reformed Egyptian government.” Even in his speech, Obama said the U.S. must support “the freedom for people to express themselves and choose their leaders”; must support “governments that are ultimately responsive to the aspirations of the people.” The underlying assumption is that people always choose liberal forms of governments””a demonstrably false notion: Nazis, Hamas, the mullahs””all came to power through the “aspirations of the people.”
As for Libya’s nebulous opposition, even before Obama decided to support them, the Washington Post had reported that “the administration knows little about Libya’s well-armed rebels, [and] cannot predict the political system that might replace Qaddafi’s bizarre rule.” More recent evidence indicates that the U.S. is arming the same jihadists who four years earlier were trying to kill Americans in Iraq….