Daniel Larison remains convinced that the Libya intervention is unwise:
I hadn’t thought of this before, but it occurs to me now that the Libyan intervention is something of a gift for other authoritarian governments. Even more than before, authoritarian governments are going to be able to portray dissenters in their countries as being in league Western powers, and they will be able to point to Libya’s fate as an example of what demands for political reform can cause. While the administration seems to be very keen to align itself with certain popular movements in the region, they are lending credibility to authoritarians’ arguments that internal dissent is intended to weaken a country and that dissent invites outside attack.
How better to help authoritarian governments to conflate political opposition with “seditionists,” as the Iranian government likes to call Green movement activists, than for Western governments to identify with a political opposition in Libya that is actively engaged in genuine sedition and armed insurrection? This isn’t going to fool determined opponents of the regime, but it would probably drive political fence-sitters in these countries towards supporting their regimes. There would then be even more suspicion that protest movements are collaborating with foreign governments or that they serve as unwitting pawns of foreign powers, and a larger percentage of the population will share these suspicions. This is the flip side of the perverse incentive to encourage protest movements to take up arms and start hopeless rebellions. The Libyan war sets several precedents, but there isn’t much reason to think that any of them are constructive.
Meanwhile, some hawks want to duplicate it:
Sen. Joe Lieberman (I-Conn.) raised the possibility Sunday of U.S. military involvement in Syria if President Bashar Al-Assad massacres his people. “If Assad does what Qadhafi was doing, which is to threaten to go house to house and kill anybody who’s not on his side, there’s a precedent now that the world community has set in Libya, and it’s the right one,” Lieberman said on “Fox News Sunday.” “We’re not going to stand by and allow this Assad to slaughter his people like his father did years ago.”
“Finally, we are on the side of the mass of people yearning to be free within the Arab world,” he added. He suggested that there is an American appetite to back freedom fighters outside Libya.
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