Gates: No vital US interests at stake in Libya

Posted by: Phineas on March 27, 2011 at 2:07 pm

**Posted by Phineas

I’m not averse to the use of force in foreign affairs, in cases where it’s the best available option and clearly seen American interests are at stake. I also am not against going “John Wayne” on a maniac dictator and helping his people be free of him when, again, demonstrable American interests align with the desire to give said maniac what he deserves. I argued, and still do, that Iraq presented such a case in 2002-2003.

Otherwise, in the absence of vital American interests, there seems little reason to commit American blood and treasure.

So what am I to think when, on national television, the Secretary of Defense says he can’t think of any vital American interests in Libya, where we’ve just gone to war?

As the war in Libya moves into its second week, tag-team Sunday talk show appearances by the Secretary of Defense and the Secretary of State suggest the Obama administration remains divided over the fundamental question of whether the war is in the United States’ national interest.

On NBC’s “Meet the Press,” Gates was asked, “Is Libya in our vital interest as a country?” He answered, “No, I don’t think it’s a vital interest for the U.S., but we clearly have interests there, and it’s a part of the region which is a vital interest for the U.S.” Gates’ statement wasn’t an entirely convincing rationale for a major military commitment, and moderator David Gregory responded by saying, “I think a lot of people would hear that and say well, that’s quite striking — not in our vital interests and yet we’re committing military resources.”

Emphasis added.

In that case, Mr. Secretary, let me ask a question: In a time of national fiscal distress when we’re borrowing 40 cents of every dollar we spend and when we already have major commitments in Iraq and Afghanistan, the latter involving frequent combat, why in Heaven’s name are we attacking Libya? If you and your boss can’t articulate a coherent reason for starting a war, what possessed you (and him) to think this would be a good idea?

And, no, “I dunno” doesn’t cut it.

Oh, but then acting-President and Secretary of State Clinton jumped in to offer a reason:

At that point, Clinton suggested that the U.S. went to war to repay NATO allies for support in Afghanistan. “We asked our NATO allies to go into Afghanistan with us ten years ago,” she said. “They have been there, and a lot of them have been there despite the fact that they were not attacked. The attack came on us…They stuck with us. When it comes to Libya, we started hearing from the UK, France, Italy, other of our NATO allies…This was in their vital national interest…

Emphasis added.

So, our European allies asked us to attack Libya because they went to war when we were attacked, so we agreed to bomb Libya because they were… Wait. Did I miss a Libyan raid on Naples or something??

Hey, I can see a vital interest for some European countries in Libya — they get quite a bit of oil from there, much more than we do. But that’s their vital interest, not ours. And al Qaeda’s attack on the US triggered the Article V mutual defense clause of the NATO treaty, which is in play in Libya… how, exactly?

Clinton’s “explanation” reminds me of this corker from her boss:

And that’s why building this international coalition has been so important because it means that the United States is not bearing all the cost. It means that we have confidence that we are not going in alone, and it is our military that is being volunteered by others to carry out missions that are important not only to us, but are important internationally. And we will accomplish that in a relatively short period of time.

And again, emphasis added.

What, did this all start because of a phone call from Europe? “Congratulations! We’ve just volunteered your military for a little war in Libya! And, hey, Barry, you owe us.”

I’m all for allies sticking together, but, if intervening in Libya is a vital European interest, maybe the European states should start spending the money to create the forces they would need to defend those vital interests and not “volunteer” us.

Meanwhile, someone needs to give the administration lessons in not sounding like clueless idiots.

(Crossposted at Public Secrets)

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9 Responses to “Gates: No vital US interests at stake in Libya”


  1. Carlos says:

    This is all a part of the “global community” argument we will be hearing more and more about in the coming months (and years, if Obhammud is re-elected).

    First, he dithered about making a decision that could be viewed as “going cowboy.” Then he waited for the “global community” (a.k.a., the U.N.) to decide amongst themselves whether to take out a vicious dictator would cause problems for all the other “respectable” vicious dictators still in good standing in that august body.

    Finally, he committed arms to that war by obfuscating what it was all about and what the objectives are. But he committed those arms and actions per the U.N. resolution, not the Constitution of the United States.

    Now he wishes to relinquish control of our military and materials to NATO, all in another clear violation of Constitutional requirement.

    For a constitutional lawyer, he’s sure not too up on what’s constitutional at all.

  2. Old Goat says:

    Dogs and cats living together…

    Sure seems like we are living in bizzaro world.

    There is no justification that has been given for the kinetic military action in Libya. Other than Duh One saying that Gaddfly must go. I guess being King of the US means that Duh One’s pronouncements must be carried out.

    Libya wasn’t even on the map with any of the US’s concerns for a decently long time. That isn’t to say that there was US approval of Libyan leadership, but to go from a nothing country as far as our nation is concerned to going in with military actions, and couple that with the rebels are supported and tied up with al Queda, it is just beyond me how this Obama regime can spin this.

    Clinton hasn’t done so. Gates, another person who shouldn’t have the current job they hold, can’t justify it.

    With all the craziness going on, how long will it be to total world meltdown? Seriously, we are moving closer to another world war, especially with Duh One and his Czars being in power.

  3. Paul says:

    Does the Left hand know what thee Right hand is doing in the Obama administration ? It’s like a Chinese fire drill !

  4. bill glass says:

    Hey, can you imagine if that was George W. Bush’s defense secretary saying that? There would never, never be enough ‘splainin that would or could smooth it over. For Barry? – No prob.

  5. Old Goat says:

    It will probably come out that its all Bush’s fault.

  6. Tango says:

    …I was shocked to learn a few days ago that Barry had even deployed our top of the line intercontinental bombers (the B-2 stealth bomber) to this Libyan circus. This is NUTS beyond imagination!

  7. Tex says:

    The only reason NATO has existed, and continues to exist, is for American sons and daughters to risk their lives for the defense of Europe leaving European sons and daughters the time and freedom to ponder which American policy to protest. And since the U.S. foots the bill for most of the expense of NATO, The Europeans save a ton of money mooching off of the American taxpayer to subsidize their defense so they can pour all that savings into their socialist welfare systems. The Europeans are quick to volunteer us to fight their fights (think Kosovo and Libya) and no where to be found when it comes time to help us fight our fights (think Iraq and Afghanistan). I’m all for ending American membership in NATO. Let the Europeans risk their own lives and funds defending their own interests.