Conference seasons is chugging along, so blogging has been sparse after my early-spring surge. But I had a couple of thoughts on the goings on abroad—mainly (entirely actually) about Libya.
First, I'm surprised that I haven't been hearing about more just how little we seem to know about the goals and composition of the "rebel movement" in Libya. I suspect that referring to it as a homogenous or single movement is by no means an accurate depiction of what's going on. I'm primarily surprised that this subject has not come up far more frequently given our experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan. I know these wars happened a long time ago…yeah, that sounds right…but surely there were lessons to be learned from the complexities that domestic tribal structures and factions introduced for a foreign power trying to build a new set of governmental institutions during, and subsequent to a military occupation.
Second, my impression is that the approach most conservative pundits and policymakers are trying to take in attacking President Obama's handling of US involvement in Libya is that his policy of limited engagement is "amateurish" (as I seem to recall Newt Gingrich referring to it). Rather, their implicit argument is that unless Obama declares regime change and boots on the ground to be our policy, then our mission/mandate is "unclear". Essentially this is the debate between limited uses of military force versus full military engagements. But given my first point (see previous paragraph) I'm surprised that this is an acceptable tack to take. Can you really attack a president as being incompetant for setting limits on further military interventions when we are still trying to complete two other wars that have taken about a decade, billions of dollars, thousands of lives, and where the outcome is still highly uncertain? Do Republicans really believe that this approach is based on solid ground? Do/would their own constituents really support escalation simply on the basis of partisan opposition to the president? To put it differently, do they really believe that the use of force cannot be "competant" unless it involves large-scale mobilization and occupation? It seems to me that the aforementioned wars, fought so long ago, in a time far far away…and probably with light sabers…have shown us that even when we fully mobilize our forces, supplement them with thousands of private contractors and some foreign military forces, the goals and objectives can still be incredibly vague and uncertain.
Am I missing something? If it's about light sabers I don't want to hear it.