Obviously, there are times when war is tragically necessary. That is not the case in Libya.
Even in better economic times, Washington cannot afford to police the world. With a $1.65 trillion deficit this year, trillions of dollars in red ink expected in coming decades, and over $100 trillion in unfunded liabilities piled high, the U.S. government needs to relearn humility in foreign policy, as candidate George W. Bush argued so very long ago.
More fundamentally, the lives and treasure of Americans, especially those in the armed forces, should not be risked without something important at stake for their own society. Military personnel are not gambit pawns to be sacrificed in some global chess game played by ivory tower warriors. For good reason nearly two-thirds of Americans say they want to stay out of Libya.
We should wish the Libyan people well. But their war is not our war. And military intervention risks their future. Wrote Gideon Rachman in the Financial Times: “in the long-run, it would damage the only real chance for lasting peace and stability in the region–the hope that the future of the Middle East will now be determined by ordinary citizens, rather than by local dictators or outside powers.”
President Bush’s militaristic agenda was never necessary. Democracy is spreading in spite of catastrophic policy failure in Iraq. Andrew Bacevich of Boston University noted in the Cleveland Plain Dealer that, “by liberating themselves, [the Muslim masses] will also liberate us. Our misbegotten crusade to determine their destiny will finally end.” Americans should reject another war of choice in another Muslim nation about which they know nothing.