Quote of the Day: The Low Bar

What is the silver lining?

Debate seems to reign concerning the intervention in Libya. It stopped a massacre in Benghazi – something for Obama, Sarzoky and Cameron to hang their hats on – but what now? When can the west leave? What happens if Qaddafi does not fall? Should the west move offensively? What will happen if Syria or Bahrain starts slaughtering protesters? Lingering among all these questions is the bitter taste of Iraq and the massive troubles that remain to this day. Foreign intervention was supposed to be acceptable, but the Arab League has condemned the bombing of Libya while the African Union and Russia have joined the chorus of shaking fingers. Moreover, like Bush’s Mission Accomplished was really signally the beginning of the Iraq endeavor, there is speculation that America’s role in Libya will inevitably be longer than originally thought. Fortunately, Libya is not Iraq – though as Yglesias points out, that is a pretty low bar:

Granting all that follows for the sake of argument, isn’t this a strange way for Iraq to impact the structure of debate? Is “less misguided than the invasion of Iraq” really a reasonable standard for policy to aspire to? I agree that this should turn out better than Iraq did. But will it turn out better than Somalia? Does it represent a reasonable allocation of resources? “Better than Iraq” is a very low bar for a foreign policy initiative to pass.

I have to imagine that Libya will turn out better than Iraq, but better than catastrophic is still terrible. Here is to hoping we are all wrong and Obama’s “Mission Accomplished” poster isn’t followed by another 4,441 American deaths and several thousand Libyan deaths…

Photo from the Independent; H/T to Sullivan

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4 thoughts on “Quote of the Day: The Low Bar

  1. It isn’t about Iraq. It is about learning from history. libya is not like Iraq. Iraq was invaded under a false pretext. Talking about Arab league and African leaders, they are failing morally. They should be able to at least broker a deal or prepare for a possible peace keeping mission with the sole aim of protecting civilians should the case deteriorate. This a humanitarian duty.

    1. Perhaps, but when has the Arab League or the African Union volunteered to take over a mission from the US. It is like Iraq only in that the US is stuck in Iraq and could be (COULD BE) stuck in Libya too

  2. The Arab league has the credentials and a very good chance of succeeding in broking a deal and African Union have the capacity and good record especially where US has failed ( Sumalia) in peace keeping mission. It is not a matter of WHEN but a matter of whether it is the right moment/situation.

    1. Fair enough, but who wants a deal (assuming that a deal does not involve Qaddafi leaving the country)? And while the African Union certainly has a record of peace-keeping, I find it hard to believe that the AU would be capable of really taking over in Libya. Moreover, both the AL and AU have condemned western actions in Libya, why would they then go and replace the west? From the ‘support’ of the AL, we saw a couple of fighter jets from the Gulf and a lot of harsh words.

      Again, personally, I would have not gone in at all and I certainly would not have gone in without a strict and enforceable timeline to get out. I just don’t see either the AL (look at the people in that room!) or that AU getting involved to help the west out of Libya

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