Like many Americans, I have split feelings on how to deal with Libya. On the one hand, my heart goes out to the rebel forces and I want to see Gaddafi pay for the death he has caused. On the other hand, my realist foreign policy presuppositions lead me to want to see restrain from American foreign policymakers. There has been much talk about how the United States could end up in a third war in an Islamic country. I think there are three differences that need to be stated.
1. The United States has broad international support.
2. The UN declaration explicitly states that the international community has the right to intervene but doesn't have the right to occupy Libya. It is in nobody's interest, especially the United States, to stay in Libya.
3. The bombing campaign will likely be led by countries other than the United States. President Obama has wisely taken a backseat on the discussions about Libya. France and Britain appear to be ready to attack pronto. The Arab League will likely play a large role in Libya.
This is not nation building. This is military assistance to the rebels. We shouldn't allow the horrors of the Iraq War to blind us to the need for occasional military interventions. And as long as Obama acts like George H.W. Bush did in the First Gulf War and less like George W. Bush did in the Iraq War, then my realists presuppositions will be satisfied.
Cross posted at The Cross Culturalist.