Libya, Iraq, Syria, Iran, and the All the Same Old, Same Old Mess
Each country in the Middle East poses unique challenges. That said, gender apartheid, religious intolerance, tribalism, dictatorship, statism, and lack of transparency and free expression are widely shared in the region, and mean that any particular policy will almost immediately collide with some two millennia of habit and custom antithetical and often hostile to the values of the West. That the West is presently broke, multicultural, full of guilt and incapable of defending its values and history only confuses the issue even more.
Libya and Iraq
We are all glad that the Gadhafi regime is purportedly on its last legs. When I visited Libya in 2006, tragedy was what I saw—and a friendly population under the yoke of a psychopath. But I don’t think we have had much idea of what we were doing in Libya—a sort of diplomatic pastime secondary to presidential jet-setting and golfing. Moreover, I don’t see any hypocrisy in critiquing our confusion over Libya, as a supporter of the removal of Saddam Hussein. Wanting to use American power and influence to its fullest extent when going to war is preferable to not wanting to use all our power and influence when going to war. The hypocrisy is rather on the Left, which once damned the principle of intervention against an Arab Middle East oil-exporting nation that had not recently attacked us, only to support intervention against an Arab Middle East oil exporting nation that had not recently attacked us. In the Left’s defense, one could argue their consistency is that it’s OK if you have a UN vote, but irrelevant whether you have consent of the U.S. Congress.
Saddam Hussein’s Iraq was the object of 23 different Congressional authorizations (one should go back and read that October 2002 long list of “whereas”es), had been in hot and cold wars with us since 1991, attacked four neighbors, and in the heart of the ancient caliphate was hosting all sorts of terrorists. In a post-911 climate it made sense to reckon with him. Indeed, I think one of the great untold stories of Iraq was the carnage of Islamic terrorists who by volition promised that Iraq would be the central theater in jihad, flocked there, were killed and wounded in droves, and lost—and vastly weakened their cause. But in contrast, the West was apparently in the middle of a weird charm offensive with Gadhafi (one advanced by bought-and-paid-for American academics, European oil companies, and multicultural elites), and the result by 2010 was that Libya was considered no longer the 1986 Libya that Reagan had bombed.