America has stayed uncharacteristically uninvolved in Libya’s late travails; uncharacteristically, given our history of interventionism in the Arab world. We’re involved in Iraq and Afghanistan in vague capacities, for vague reasons. Yet we’re reticent to involve ourselves in Libya.
Of all the places we are and shouldn’t be, Libya is one place we’re not and should be. The no-fly zone recently proposed by Sen. John McCain would cost very little in terms of men or money (especially compared to current Arab imbroglios elsewhere) and would be very effective (especially against a sixth-rate military like Libya’s). Economists would call it a cost-return analysis skewed highly in our favor.
Yet leaders debate: Are American interests at stake there? Why should we intervene?
The answer to the first is, yes. Libya sits atop one of the largest natural gas reserves in the world. Ensconcing an agreeable democracy there is worthwhile. To the second: innocent people need our help and we have the power to help them. Surely, that’s reason enough.
President Ronald Reagan ordered Libya bombed on April 15, 1986. The aim was to kill Libyan despot Colonel Moammar al-Gaddhafi, who narrowly escaped. Gaddhafi went on to strangle his country for tens of billions of dollars in personal gain and assemble one of the most flamboyant wardrobes of any world leader since Cleopatra.
2011 seems as good a year as any to finish the job President Reagan started.