Friday, October 21, 2011

Will U.S. linger in Libya?

Welcome again to O-pinion, the Observer's new place for argument.

I'm Kevin Siers, the Observer’s editorial cartoonist, and I, along with the rest of the editorial board, will be bringing you a round-up of opinion from around the country and region.

The world’s attention this morning is still focused on Libya, following the news of Moammar Gadhafi's death, wondering what it means for the region, and what happens next.

President Obama has announced “Our NATO mission will soon come to an end.” But he provided no timetable for when U.S. aircraft, drones and warships will actually pull out of the NATO-led campaign. The Guardian reports that NATO military commanders are urging a decision by today.

Spencer Ackerman, over at, agrees, but says that two propositions are warring with each other. Even without its key leader, it’s possible the opposition to Libya’s transitional government will go on, and the Libyan people will still need protection. On the other hand, NATO is exhausted.

The Observer editorial board said Obama's actions were the right ones. And around the web today, it's hard to find anyone unhappy with the result.

The New York Times applauds the U.S. and NATO efforts, and the $40 million pledged to help Libya track down and secure the opposition’s weapons. The Washington Post endorses this effort as well, but calls it “modest” beginning and suggests that the U.S. must take the lead in the hard work of rebuilding the country.

New Republic ex-editor, now columnist, Martin Peretz says, rather than protection, what’s really behind the Libyan intervention is oil:

“But let’s not miss the obvious truth. What Italy, France, Great Britain, and our own country are interested in fundamentally is Libyan oil. The ex-imperial powers are clearly hoping for a humane and representative polity that will be more open to market trade than the vagaries of authoritarianism and pan-Arabism.

“Which is why Libya was the easiest of interventions. In the end, Qaddafi was just an armed screwball with gunmen. Okay, a very well-armed screwball.”

Don’t expect such quick action in Syria, he says, where the stakes are higher and deeper.

Another reason things won’t change in Syria, writes Mark Steyn at the National Review, is that America is very good at getting rid of her allies, but not her enemies.

“Bernard Lewis said a few years ago that, in the Middle East, America risks teaching the lesson that she is harmless as an enemy and treacherous as a friend. So far the score in the Arab Spring is pretty consistent: On the CIA rule, Gaddafi, Ben Ali and Mubarak were SOBs but perceived, to one degree or another, as the west’s SOBs. Baby Assad wasn’t our SOB, and he’s still in business, and getting aid and comfort from a supposed US client regime in Iraq. And the two most assiduous ideological exporters, Iran and Saudi Arabia, have vastly increased their influence. So has the Muslim Brotherhood.”
Other analysts are evaluating Obama’s efforts in the region and finding his approach contrasts with that of Bush. David Rothkopf of Foreign Policy says that the success of the Obama Doctrine in this case vindicates the phrase “leading from behind.” The Washington Post points out that technocratic approach may work well in foreign policy, it doesn’t seem to help with domestic issues.

Many others seem reluctant to give any credit to Obama for the situation in Libya. The Atlantic Wire reports: A lot of people on Twitter are saying things like this: "I swear to god if Obama gets praised for #Gadhafi I will leave the United States."

And finally, not everyone is celebrating the demise of Gadhafi. Over at the Daily Beast is this headline:

Gaddafi’s former Ukrainian nurse tells The Daily Beast’s Anna Nemtsova she’s devastated by his death and considers him a “brave hero.”


David said...

Please use the disqus commenting system that the CO site uses. While I preferred the original messaging system that predates disqus, we have learned to live with ONE system. Participation will skyrocket.

aNON said...

No but NATO will. What's the difference between Libya and Syria?
No oil is Syria.

Larry said...

I was wondering if the Observer Editorial Board Members would agree with Obama? Thanks for updating us.