The news is out. Libyan rebels have taken most of the capital and captured three of Gadhafi's sons including his heir apparent, Saif Al Islam, who promised that the streets would run with rivers of blood before his family gave up power.
Monday, August 22, 2011
The CNN infotainment models are making a big deal this morning about whether the US involvement was "worth it." So let's do some rough cost benefit calculations.
What did cost? CNN reports that the White House estimates that US involvement in Libya will cost $1.1 Billion. Other estimates by critics of the operation run more like $33 Billion. What did it achieve? I believe no US military people have been killed.
1) Gadhafi's forces were poised to perpetrate a mass slaughter of the populations of Benghazi and Misrata - cities with hundreds of thousands of people each. The operation clearly prevented Gadhafi's forces from capturing either city.
2) Gadhafi was a particularly nasty dictator who had sponsored some of the most infamous terrorist attacks other than 9/11. He's now out of the world picture except as a fugitive.
3) The US was able to make a high profile, tangible effort to remove an Arab dictator that the overwhelming majority of Arabs across the Middle East despised. For once the US was doing something that advanced the cause of democratic reforms in the Middle East.
4) The example of Libya should not be underestimated in relation to the ongoing rebellion against the Assad dictatorship in Syria.
5) At the time the US got involved, there were indications that some of our close European allies were keen to get involved with us or without us (especially France and the UK). Our involvement made their efforts much more likely to succeed. Preventing a European foreign policy disaster is of great value to us and should not be dismissed casually.
The cost benefit calculation for the Libyan operation is in stark contrast to the enormous costs (in lives and money) and dubious benefits of either the war in Iraq or Afghanistan. Granted, the honeymoon in post Gadhafi Libya will be brief. Libya will almost certainly have a long, painful and ultimately disappointing transition. But the same is true for Iraq and Afghanistan both of which cost much much more. As military adventures go, Obama's foray to the Shores of Tripoli will probably be shown to be a relatively costless distraction at worst but at best could end up generating a series of important benefits for US policy in the Middle East for a bargain basement price.
Posted by Raised By Republicans at 4:34 AM