The Tunisians got rid of Ben Ali in nothing flat, Mubarak took a couple of weeks longer to hit the road, and an exciting new ‘Islamic Emirate’ has just been proclaimed in South Yemen. But, with his usual unerring instinct, Barack Obama has chosen to back the one Arab liberation movement who can’t get rid of the local strongman even when you lend them every functioning NATO air force.And here's the great Victor Davis Hanson, in high dudgeon, asking a series of questions needing answers (which we'll never get):
It will apparently be up to NATO to finish the war — without direct American combat participation. The relieved Obama administration had never quite explained what the mission was in the first place — or for whom and for what we were fighting. Was the bombing to stop the killing, to help the rebels, to remove Gadhafi, or to aid the British and French, who both have considerable oil interests in Libya?
And here, again, Hanson:Were we enforcing just a no-fly zone, establishing a sort of no-fly zone with occasional attacks on ground targets, or secretly sending in American operatives on the ground to work with rebels? Did the Obama administration go well beyond the Arab League and United Nations resolutions by trying to target Gadhafi for a while and ensure that the rebels won? If so, did anyone care? Was the administration ever going to ask for congressional approval — at a time when we are running a $1.6 trillion annual budget deficit and have about 150,000 troops committed in Afghanistan and Iraq? Was Libya a greater threat to our national security than Syria or Iran, or a greater humanitarian crisis than the Congo or Ivory Coast? Are our new allies, the rebels, Westernized reformers, Islamists, or both — or neither?
In fact, the entire American response to unrest in the Muslim world is ad hoc, reactionary, and often contradictory — apparently favoring government repression of rebels in the Gulf while intervening to stop such crackdowns in Libya but not elsewhere; pressuring pro-American tyrants in Tunisia and Egypt, while carefully not antagonizing anti-American tyrants in Iran and Syria; declaring support for human rights and transparency in Egypt, Tunisia, and Libya, while ignoring these values altogether in Bahrain, Saudi Arabia, and Yemen. In eerie fashion, the less the Obama administration seems to know about the complexities of the serial unrest, the more it jumps in with blunderbuss sermonizing.