The Other McCain

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Who Should Be Embarrassed, Mr. Yoo?

Posted on | August 24, 2011 | 8 Comments

by Smitty

John Yoo at the National Review:

Obama did the right thing to order U.S. forces in [to Libya], but it was done reluctantly, with the administration claiming it was not really at “war,” limiting the U.S. and its allies to enforcing a no-fly zone only, and then trying to reduce our participation in airstrikes. Obama’s foot-dragging prolonged the Libyan civil war and will reduce our ability to influence the post-Qaddafi regime, which may well have strong extremist elements.
But I think the new Republican isolationists in the House (and among the presidential candidates) will come out looking even worse. They opposed the president’s constitutional authority to use force abroad to protect U.S. national-security interests, yet they failed to put forward any serious proposals of their own for U.S. foreign policy in the region (aside from pulling out wholesale, I suppose). They not only contradicted the consistent position of Republican administrations on the war-powers issue, but they had no alternatives to put forward on what to do about Libya. These House members had plenty of company from the Democratic party’s antiwar Left, of course — but if they all thought the war was illegal and a bad idea, do they want to give Libya back to Qaddafi now?

There are ditches on either side of the foreign policy road:

  • Isolationist
  • The Team America: World Police, i.e. Hegemon

Picking WWI as a pivot point, or the Spanish-American War if you like, the U.S. moved toward the latter from the former, and picked up steam after WWII. After the fall of the Soviet Union, TAWP is looking rather threadbare.

Given the context of this Administration’s creepshow foreign policy, starting somewhere around Mel Zelaya in the Honduras and stumbling forward erratically from there, a lack of confidence in the President would seem mere prudence, a protection of the slupee from the ditch, not a source of embarrassment. Also, given this Administration’s flaunting of Congress on much of domestic policy (budge, anyone?), and the ongoing economic crisis, asking after the bills is due dilligence. OK, it scores points with the Tea Parties, too.

So the question to the Really Smart Folks like Yoo might be: is there a better operating point, around the crown of the road, between these ditches?

I think neither isolationism nor full forward presence is workable, especially in the globalized environment. Also suffering badly: the U.N. Anyone who thinks the U.N. should just fix stuff is probably a Left, or mad, but I repeat myself.

Is there really a level of effort below hegemon? Can you draw down forward deployments and economize, without ensuring a follow-on war? I’m guessing no.

At any rate, grant BHO his victory lap. As with Osama, you can’t both deny Obama the kudos and hold the man accountable for the rest of the economic disaster we face. Well, you can, if you’re a Lefty ingrate. That said, the War Powers act of 1973 bears review, as a part of the hegemony question. The fact that there has been dissent is patriotic, not a cause for embarrassment.


8 Responses to “Who Should Be Embarrassed, Mr. Yoo?”

  1. TC_LeatherPenguin
    August 24th, 2011 @ 12:35 pm

    If you follow the link, you will witness the NRO commentariat kicking Mr. Yoo five ways from Friday.

  2. dad29
    August 24th, 2011 @ 12:39 pm

    Without going into the question of “Why Libya?”, we are in general agreement here.  The op was completed (more or less) with minimal cost to the US (only $900 million……!?!?!) and no “we have to fix the entire country” crap.

  3. A.Men
    August 24th, 2011 @ 1:39 pm

    Why Libya now? Why not after terrorist bombing of U.S. passenger plane?

  4. Shawn Gillogly
    August 24th, 2011 @ 2:14 pm

    What if there is a third ditch. Something akin to “Define and defend our interests, and the vital interests of our allies.” But without the ‘you broke it, you buy it’ carp that Powell and the Left try to sell?

    I think that’s short of Neo-Con Empire, but further than the isolationists would be happy to see, because it still represents real engagement in places where we have a vital interest.

    And no, we had no vital interest in Libya. We didn’t have a vital interest in Afghanistan immediately after we sent the Taliban to the hills, nor did we in Iraq after Hussein was captured. Civilians build governments, not the military.

  5. Charles
    August 24th, 2011 @ 3:02 pm

    If the Libya model is to get our allies to do their share, and if that is not enough, don’t try to fill in with America forces, that might be the road to go down.

  6. Anonymous
    August 24th, 2011 @ 4:19 pm

    Mr. Yoo, may I introduce the classic policy of all great powers throughout history: Intervene militarily when the vital interests of the nation are endangered, and if diplomatic intervention fails or cannot be used.  

    Needless to say, Libya did not meet the test. The new regime will soon be dominated by the Ikhwan, with strong Egyptian ties. The Ikhwan (Muslim Brotherhood) is not friendly to us. The Libyan intervention gets rid of a defanged tyrant (Mubarak, Part Deux) and substitutes a hostile Islamist regime. Brilliant.

  7. Anonymous
    August 24th, 2011 @ 4:25 pm

    Killing Go-Daffy is it’s own virtue, since he is merely deposed at the moment this adventure isn’t a complete success. But it appears Obama has stumbled into a foreign policy success. My biggest complaint with this whole thing is citing the UN as a moral or legal justification for this skirmish. I can think of few things on this planet less moral than the UN and obviously it’s unconstitutional and therefore illegal to allow that infamous islamic supremacist organization to direct our policies foreign or domestic.

    There is still plenty of time for several segments of this “Arab Spring” to turn to sh!t before November 2012. This administration would do well to not over hype the limited success in Libya.

  8. Obama Vindicated on Libya? «
    August 25th, 2011 @ 6:20 am

    […] Don’t Need U.N. Approval to Save Libyan Lives.” But also from Smitty at TOM, “Who Should Be Embarrassed, Mr. Yoo?“Source: US Middle East OpinionPublished: 25 August 2011Site: by […]