Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Removing Qaddaffi

I oppose the war in Libya. I accept the conventional wisdom that our engagement in Libya is certainly no worse than Iraq (a war which I foolishly supported). I think the President has been much more responsible in leading our engagement in Libya than his predecessor. I just don't see much upside. Qaddaffi is unlikely to cave as he has pissed off nearly every world leader and probably doesn't have a safe haven outside of maybe Zimbabwe and Venezuela. So, if our stated goal is to remove Qaddaffi I think we will actually fail in this endeavor unless we commit ground troops. I can imagine a scenario where Libya effectively splits, or one where we maintain a no-fly zone for the better part of a decade. This is not to say that I think Qaddaffi is a good guy but I do think the zeal with which the international community is pursuing him will encourage some unintended consequences. Over the last decade Qaddaffi moderated his behavior significantly. He stopped sponsoring terrorism, it appears that he and his government provided significant insight into the financing of terrorism (after all, they had subject matter expertise), and stopped their WMD program. None these things make Qaddaffi a good citizen but they certainly demonstrate that our diplomacy was having an effect. With Qaddaffi as example in mind what should a modern day despot do? Clearly the Qaddaffi example shows that moderating your behavior will only lead to temporary gains (especially if you sitting on an ocean of oil). If I were a despot I would be musing about the counterfactual in which Qaddaffi got his nukes.

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