The American Psychological Association (APA) produces the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders (DSM) to identify various forms of mental illness. If APA had a foreign and national security policymaking branch, it would find a number of factors in the Obama Administration's Libyan policymaking to add to the DSM. The first disorder would be "pathetic dependence on United Nations backing" syndrome. This disorder occurs in many foreign ministries around the world, multiple leftist political parties, and in many segments of the international academic and political science communities. It is based on a delusional belief that nations must get the support of the United Nations for any use of military force to be considered "legitimate" in international law. Of course, this belief is fallacious nonsense as decisions to use military force must be made by national leaders and military planners in consultation with trusted allies.
A second disorder afflicting the Barack Obama, his administration, and many of the aforementioned groups is that Western military action in the Middle East must also gain the blessing of the Arab League lest the mythical "Arab Street" become inflamed with perpetual "days of rage." The Arab League is a pathetic collection of Islamic states that seeks to absolve itself from its desire to drive Israel into the sea and push its vision of Islamic imperialism throughout the world, while also allowing its plutocratic regimes to repress their populations, maintain their ostentatious personal wealth, and persecute citizens whose religious beliefs do not include genuflecting toward Mecca five times per day.
Muammar Qaddafi is a nasty tribal thug who has ruined his country and deserves death in the worst possible way. He has been a sponsor of state terrorism who is responsible for the deaths of Americans and others. Although Qaddafi has supported revolutionary low lives as far flung as the Irish Republican Army and Venezuela's Hugo Chavez, his power base is personal and tribal and he does not have the capability to export his system to neighboring countries. We should have taken him out in the 1980s and not allowed his cancer to fester. Our relationship with Qaddafi improved somewhat after Saddam Hussein was captured as the sometimes pragmatic Libyan dictator saw it was in his best interest to get on our good side and seemingly renounce terrorism. Sadly, many European and American governments and companies became seduced by the mythical idea of Qaddafi as a reliable oil supplier and forgot his true sadistic terrorist nature.
The astute 19th century German Chancellor Otto von Bismarck once observed that the Balkans were not worth the bones of a Pomeranian grenadier. Libya, despite its oil wealth and terrorist record, is not worth the long-term commitment, blood, and treasure of the United States and its allies who are currently attacking assets of Qaddafi's regime in a surreal military operation. We have entered this conflict based on the worst Gladstonian and Wilsonian humanitarian idealism without a clear sense of the longer-term strategic interests of the United States.
We know practically nothing about Qaddafi's opponents other than their hatred of the Libyan dictator. Do they really favor something resembling Western style freedoms or are they really Al Qaida-like Islamists? They have no clear leader or even collective leadership and have proven themselves to be rank amateurs in conducting military operations. Before putting our own blood and treasure on the line, we should find out what these rebels stand for and whether their aspirations are beneficial to our long-term geopolitical and strategic interests in the Mediterranean and North Africa. Providing them with professional military training will take a long-time if they really want to be able to slug it out with and defeat Qaddafi's forces. We should also permanently get over the notion that the United Nations and Arab League are really interested in improving the daily lives of the Libyan people and that their support is needed for this operation to be legitimate. We should know Qaddafi and his gangsters will fight like the blazes to preserve their wealth and power and will commit whatever atrocities they feel necessary to maintain their power.
We need to be honest in stating our military objectives. What kind of imbecile initiates military operations against a country and says he isn't personally targeting that country's leader or desires to overthrow that leader? What kind of "leader" says he won't insert ground troops into a military operation? Barack Obama. Does the Obama Adminstration really think that air strikes alone will topple Qaddafi? The U.S. and its western allies will have to put ground troops in for a significant period of time to stabilize things after Qaddafi is toppled. This might not be popular for domestic political purposes, but it's the reality of 21st century wars. It would be nice if we had a President with the courage to tell the American people that our military will be involved in occupation duties in multiple Mideast countries for the foreseeable future and that we will need to assassinate leaders hostile to our interests to enhance national security. However, since we are in this conflict we need to pursue it to a victorious conclusion.
Ideally, Congress should have been consulted on this, although Congress and other legislative bodies are not known for their agile and expedited responses to domestic or international political crises. The President, as Commander-in-Chief, has the final call in determining when to use military force, and the constitutional provision mandating congressional declaration of war, is a vestige of simpler 18th century geopolitical realities and cannot cope with the rapidly evolving circumstances of contemporary military conflict. Congress should, however, conduct rigorous oversight and engage in tough questioning of the Obama Administration and its long-term planning for Libya as this situation evolves in the weeks and months to come. Our primary objective should be the long-term geopolitical and strategic interests of the United States and not humanitarian sentimentality toward the Libyan people or the Islamic world. More consequential areas of strategic interest to us in the Mideast include Bahrain (where we have a naval base), Iraq, Saudi Arabia, Syria. Yemen, and, most importantly, Iran.