The following passage from this article interests me:
For the administration, [Senator John] Kerry’s view is more troublesome, given that he is a normally a strong ally on foreign policy issues. He was a fierce critic of the war in Iraq, but he sees Libya as a different matter.
He has pushed the White House to do more — including “cratering” Libya’s airfields so the planes cannot take off.
Mr. Kerry, who was openly siding with officials who want the president to take a stronger public stance, said he was pushing the administration to “prepare for all eventualities” and warned that “showing reticence in a huge public way is not the best option.”
“You want to be prepared if he is bombing people, and killing his own people,” he said, referring to Colonel Qaddafi. The Libyan people, he said, would “look defenseless and we would look feckless — you have to be ready.”
I don’t necessarily know why Libya is a “different matter” than Iraq. In Iraq, we had security interests at stake, a well-developed military plan, and a buildup specifically designed to execute that plan. For Libya, we certainly have security interests at stake, but no well-developed plan. I am sure that the Pentagon can come up with options if asked, but those options would be rushed compared to the ones developed for Iraq. And note that Kerry is not advocating military action on the basis of security interests at all. Rather, he is arguing that we ought to undertake a military strike in order to alleviate a humanitarian crisis. But as mentioned in the article, a less publicly dramatic, but no less serious humanitarian crisis in Iraq–Saddam Hussein’s brutal and unrelenting suppression of his own people–was not enough to prevent Kerry from becoming “a fierce critic of the war in Iraq” who believes that we never should have gone in to remove Saddam Hussein from power.
It’s truly annoying to see public officials swing back and forth on whether we ought to use the American military to intervene in situations where a humanitarian crisis is ongoing. Their ethics on this issue are so situational as to be comical. It is equally annoying to see that so few of them are willing to actually use the military in order to fulfill American security interests, or to state publicly that American security interests oftentimes need defending. There seems to almost be an aversion to mentioning–let alone advocating on behalf of–American security interests; as though doing so would reveal us to be a crass and grasping people. This despite the fact that a nation-state’s defense of its own security interests is the most natural and understandable thing in the world.