As I have been considering this “war” in Libya, I have been countering any number of arguments against the Admin’s actions. I would list them as such:
1) The risk to our military. Seriously. Please. If one wants to make a moral argument against this action, this is not a place to start, or even visit. In Vietnam we lost 53k conscripts. That was a solid reason on a moral level to oppose that war. This “war” MAY get a dozen pilots killed, in the extreme. And that is not even remotely likely. These guys are the most volunteer of volunteers. They WANT to mix it up. Almost nobody in the military is better aware of what they are into than fighter pilots. Navy SEALS perhaps. So I’d suggest to anyone that feels the need to decry this action to skip past the fact that one or two pilots are likely to become casualties. To object at this level would be parallel to opposing sending firefighters to fight fires. That is what those guys WANT to do.
2) The cost. This is not costing a whole lot yet, little more than exercises, plus the cost of real munitions. Cruise missiles cost a fair bit, I grant, but see 1 above and consider how many more pilots would be dead or captured without the use of that technology. To complain of the cost is to assert that the benefits gained to the rebels, the possibility of driving Qaddafi from office, and the stabilization of world oil prices has no value. The cost of this is trivial compared to the potential benefits.
3) Collateral damage (deaths of civilians in the suppression of Libyan air defenses, etc.) It is a nonsense to say that one death is too many compared to the goal. Not to compare Qaddafi to Hitler, but in all wars civilians suffer. If one is not prepared to ask if the harm done is less than the good achieved is to not make a serious argument. Lots of Germans had to die, and lots of Japanese as well, and any serious discussion of WW2 would acknowledge that the greatest evil that the Allies could have committed would have been to lose. Qaddafi has expressly committed to slaughtering the residents of Benghazi. He has lost the legitimacy to “govern”, if he ever had it. Unfortunate as it is, there is no way to secure the Eastern end of the nation and to hedge in his military without putting civilians at risk. That is not an argument to not pursue this campaign.
4) Any of a series of weak parallels to the invasion of Iraq are suspect. I will let Juan Cole attend to my argument here. http://www.juancole.com/2011/03/top-ten-ways-that-libya-2011-is-not-iraq-2003.html
5) Any suggestion that this is illegal or unconstitutional is readily debatable. There is a UN resolution, and there is the 1973 War Powers Act. Again, any argument based on this challenge must consider the humanitarian implications of letting Qaddafi continue to rule.
6) “Why are we helping here and not at (insert name of miserable unfortunate region here). The fact that we cannot help everywhere does not mean that we should not help anywhere.
Those are just some of the not very compelling arguments against this action that I have dismissed. I skip the painfully stupid Obama hating troll drivel that is usually attached to comments about vacations in Brazil etc. I welcome the opportunity to consider other arguments, or challenges to my take on these arguments.