Advocating for the U.S.'s military action in Libya, The New Republic's John Judis lays out the argument which many of his fellow war advocates are making: that those who oppose the intervention are guilty of indifference to the plight of the rebels and to Gadaffi's tyranny:
So I ask myself, would these opponents of U.S. intervention (as part of U.N. Security Council approved action), have preferred:
(1) That gangs of mercenaries, financed by the country’s oil wealth, conduct a bloodbath against Muammar Qaddafi’s many opponents?Note how, in Judis' moral world, there are only two possibilities: one can either support the American military action in Libya or be guilty of a "who cares?" attitude toward Gadaffi's butchery. At least as far as this specific line of pro-war argumentation goes, this is just 2003 all over again. Back then, those opposed to the war in Iraq were
(2) That Qaddafi himself, wounded, enraged, embittered, and still in power, retain control of an important source of the world’s oil supply, particularly for Europe, and be able to spend the wealth he derives from it to sow discord in the region?
(3) And that the movement toward democratization in the Arab world -- which has spread from Tunisia to Bahrain, and now includes such unlikely locales as Syria -- be dealt an enormous setback through the survival of one of region's most notorious autocrats?
If you answer "Who cares?" to each of these, I have no counter-arguments to offer, but if you worry about two or three of these prospects, then I think you have to reconsider whether Barack Obama did the right thing in lending American support to this intervention.