In the Arena


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There is all sorts of premature and overripe commentary about Libya bouncing around the internet (and in print, and on tv). There is talk, but no evidence, of a long war. There is talk, but no evidence, of an ill-defined mission. For all we know, the bombardment of Libya could be over by Wednesday, with the allies settling into a n0-fly zone that is as quiet as the one in Iraq was for more than a decade. Or not. No one knows.

For the moment, I’m with Andrew Sullivan–essentially mystified that the U.S. has chosen to concentrate its attention on Libya when there are so many other problems overseas and at home, and horrified, as always, by the vast, definitive stupidities uttered by the assorted bloodlusty neocons. I mean, for sheer chuckleheadedness, can you top this from Hugh Hewitt:

Hope that Secretaries Clinton and Gates persuaded the force-averse president that winning with special forces on the ground is preferable to a stalemate enforced from the skies.

Force averse? Has this talk show genius not heard of Afghanistan…or the Predators? Hewitt should also be reminded that Secretary Gates is clearly, and recently, on record expressing great skepticism about any land action in an Islamic country.

I may be proved wrong here. Someone may take out Gadhafi with a lucky Tomahawk missile and end this misery tomorrow. Gadhafi could be replaced by George Washington al-Rahman on the day after. But it seems to me that we have been plumb stupid invading yet another Islamic country. I know that people like Samantha Power have the best intentions here–but so did Paul Wolfowitz, a true conservative idealist, in Iraq. I, for one, don’t know where “humanitarian” intervention ends and neocolonialism begins. And I believe, with Brother Goldblog, that Libya is well down the list of U.S. overseas priorities (although I disagree somewhat with his list here).

Finally, I’d love to know how much this latest adventure is going to cost us…and how those costs compare to the pittance we spend on economic development in places like Pakistan and Egypt–countries whose stability is absolutely necessary to American national security.

I know that when the United Nations and the Arab League support military action, it’s hard not to go along–although the Arab League’s abrupt about-face when the establishment of a no-fly zone turned out to involve, well, you know, military action, is too hilariously predictable for words. But given the amount of opposition to this course of action within the Obama Administration–from the Pentagon, especially– and the amount of business we have to conduct elsewhere in the world, and the sheer exhaustion of the U.S. military, and the need to really focus on our problems at home, I am just shocked and, yes, mystified that the President has decided to get us mixed up in this.

And furthermore: Paul Krugman has a good column today on a far more important battle that Obama is choosing not to fight–the battle to get Elizabeth Warren appointed to direct the Consumer Finance Regulation Bureau. We are slipping back into Wall Street business as usual, taking the same old on-ramp to financial chicanery, and the President is lobbing cruise missiles at Libya? Some perspective…please?