A No-Fly Zone Over Libya, Ctd

 John McCain and John Kerry want one. Joe Klein urges caution:

The biggest problem is that we have no idea whether the rebels in Libya are freedom fighters at all. Some are, especially the English-speaking, western-educated young people who are prime targets for visiting journalists. But how relevant are they to the real power struggle? Who are the non-English-speaking tribal elders? Are they democracy loving freedom fighters...or just Qaddafis-in-waiting? It's a question to be asked not only in Libya, but also in Egypt, Tunisia, Yemen and Bahrain. One hopes for the best--especially in Egypt, where there are signs that the Army is allowing at least a partial transition away from autocracy. But who knows, really? Even Iraq's democracy is looking shaky these days as Nouri al-Maliki seems intent on consolidating his power.

I do not doubt the sincerity and good intentions of those appalled by Qaddafi's brutality. Obviously, I share it. But this is where morality must address prudence if we are to make actual, real-life decisions in a fallen world. And if we haven't learned that these "societies" are beyond our understanding, that military intervention can bring unintended consequences, that democratic revolutions only have a chance if they emerge indigenously ... then what have we learned?

2006-2011 archives for The Daily Dish, featuring Andrew Sullivan

Join the Discussion

After you comment, click Post. If you’re not already logged in you will be asked to log in or register with Disqus.

Please note that The Atlantic's account system is separate from our commenting system. To log in or register with The Atlantic, use the Sign In button at the top of every page.

blog comments powered by Disqus