Libya conflict leaves U.S. in tough spot

Freedom New Mexico

Our country’s overly aggressive interventionist foreign policy led us to invade Iraq. It has caused Americans to pay for multiple interventions in which the goal was to save women and children abroad from monstrous regimes and to spread “democracy” by force.

Seldom since World War II, with the obvious exception of Afghanistan, has the United States gone to war with only its own vital interest at stake and with broad support of the people we planned to help. From Bosnia, to Liberia, to Panama, to the Dominican Republic, to Bolivia, to Kuwait, to Somalia, to Haiti, to Albania, to Macedonia, to Syria to Colombia and more, the United States has sent troops to bring justice or to help keep the peace.

We have put American troops in harm’s way routinely when there has been almost no conceivable nexus to our own vital interests.

So here we are, mired in two seemingly intractable foreign conflicts, as the people of Libya struggle for freedom from one of the most cruel and ridiculous despots of modern time. A strong majority of the Libyan people want freedom from dictator Moammar Gadhafi and are willing to die for it. President Barack Obama says Gadhafi “must go,” but can’t decide what we should do to help that process along.

CNN contributor David Frum, a former special assistant to interventionist President George W. Bush, explains the message Obama will send by allowing Gadhafi to survive: “An anti-American, anti-Western supporter of international terrorism can hold power by killing large numbers of his own people. Meanwhile, nondemocratic rulers aligned with the West are nudged from power by their former friends.”

Frum lists former Egyptian President Hosni Mubarak, former Tunisian Republic President Zine el Abidine Ben Ali, the king of Bahrain and the king of Jordan as Middle Eastern friends who are gone or wobbling and shaken. Meanwhile, the anti-Western Iranian theocracy, Hezbollah and Hamas remain strong.

“If you were the king of Saudi Arabia, what conclusion would you draw?” Frum asks. “Would you not assess: It’s a lot safer to be an American enemy than an American friend? After all, an American enemy can use maximum violence with impunity.”

So we’re damned if we do, damned if we don’t. If we intervene in Libya, we once again commit American lives and capital to solving another country’s problem when we can least afford it. If we don’t, we expose the hypocrisy of our foreign policy while contributing to the destabilization of the Middle East.

Where does this end? God only knows. But it’s clear that our proclivity to export freedom is a habit we can’t just one day quit, cold turkey. Unfortunately, it is nowhere near that simple after decades of routine interventions.