America led the military charge into Libya. Now it’s looking for someone else to take over but doing so is neither easy or backed by tradition.
The United States has, for many years, been the “go-to” military power to lead international military actions and while pressure is building on President Barack Obama to abandon that role and turn it over to NATO or another country, the likelihood of American troops on the ground in Libya grows stronger.
But others are raising the question. Is America’s role as the dominant nation in this world over. Has its time passed as a leader on the international stage?
Writes Peter Beinart on The Daily Beast:
Some commentators love the Libya war; others hate it. But most agree that it’s profoundly unnatural that we were pushed into it by… France. Welcome to the post-American world. In the age we’re entering, most of the time, the choice will no longer be between humanitarian interventions controlled by the United States and humanitarian interventions where other nations take the lead. The choice will be between humanitarian interventions where other nations take the lead and no humanitarian interventions at all.
Beinart remembers when America led the charge into Bosnia in the 1990s and Lt. Gen. Wesley Clark bragged “the big dog barked today.”
Back then, the big dog was not fighting any other wars. It was unchallenged in East Asia; its economy was beginning to boom and its fiscal problems were melting away. And even then, Americans only supported the Bosnia war, and its kid brother Kosovo, on the condition that no Americans died.
Today, by contrast, America’s fiscal condition is terrifying and the Pentagon is fighting wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, trying to stay out of one with Iran, and keeping one eye on a rising China. I don’t know what it took to convince an obviously reluctant Robert Gates to permit American involvement in the Libyan no-fly zone, but it’s a reasonable bet that had Barack Obama not been able to promise that it would be a mostly European affair, Gates would now be a military analyst on Fox News. It’s not the 1990s anymore. The American public’s appetite for humanitarian war has always been meager. And now the American government’s capacity for waging it is meager, too.
Like the once seemingly inevitable British domination in the world, the sun may be setting on the American empire. America, as the headline on Beinart’s opinion peace reads “doesn’t matter any more.”
Obama’s unilateral decision to involve this nation in yet another military conflict has brought criticism from both the right and the left. It has united two unlikely partners in bed — Democrat Dennis Kucinich and Republican Ron Paul — is calling for instigation of impeachment proceedings, a move that has little hope of succeed since neither party takes the two promoters of the idea seriously.
Yet the discord symbolizes a different America today than the nation that once stood proud in the world. America is viewed more now with distrust and disgust on the world scene.
Still, the pressure to remain a force in Libya remains.
Writes Tom Raum of The Associated Press:
U.S. officials still hope NATO also will assume responsibility for attacks on Gadhafi’s ground forces and other targets, the toughest and most controversial portion of the operation. But that was still up in the air.
Otherwise, attacks on ground forces will continue to be overseen by the coalition nominally led by Washington. This is a responsibility the U.S. absolutely does not want to bear.
The last thing that President Barack Obama needs is to be left holding the bag on Libya. With U.S. budgets and troop levels already heavily strained by prolonged wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Obama can ill afford overseeing another war in another Muslim country.
Time will tell but time is not on either President Barack Obama’s or America’ side.
- Obama’s Jeffersonian Turn On The Libyan Intervention Marks The End Of An Empire (businessinsider.com)
- War in a Post-America World (thedailybeast.com)
- NATO lead in Libya does not end U.S. combat role (capitolhillblue.com)
- Obama Listens to Peter Beinart, with Disastrous Results (bigcitizen.wordpress.com)
- The Problem with Strategic Ambiguity and Humanitarian Intervention (volokh.com)