VIEWS: 2 PAGES: 2 POSTED ON: 2/26/2012
Schmidt: Lessons from Libya Now that bin Laden and Gadhafi are dead, the GOP should not attack Obama on foreign policy. 9:59 PM, Oct. 21, 2011 Written by STEFFEN SCHMIDT IS A PROFESSOR OF POLITICAL SCIENCE AT IOWA STATE UNIVERSITY. CONTACT: SWS@IASTATE.EDU What does the death of Moammar Gadhafi mean for U.S. foreign policy and for the Middle East and North Africa? The Obama administration deserves credit for taking the lead on action against the Libyan dictator. Team Obama did an excellent job in managing this victory from behind the scenes, letting the Europeans and a few Arab states have the public face of the military action. We know that, in fact, the U.S. was the crucial, essential nation in this conflict. The U.S. gave heart to NATO, which rarely steps into conflicts such as this without a shove from the United States. All of the significant intelligence was provided by the United States because NATO and the Europeans have no capability for satellite and aerial intelligence. We know almost for certain that American intelligence teams were on the ground in Libya helping organize the decidedly chaotic rebel forces. The U.S. supplied the Europeans with smart munitions when they ran out. The United States led in the freezing of Libyan assets and then in the “timed release” of Libyan money to the insurgent forces so they could function as a partial regional government. Libya might be a new model in which no U.S. or NATO ground troops are committed and air power in support of national “freedom fighters” accomplishes the goal. Florida Sen. Marco Rubio, who it now turns out lied about his family’s “escape from Cuba” (newly released documents show that they left two years before Castro invaded Cuba from Mexico) criticized the Obama administration on the day Gadhafi was captured and killed. I think the Republicans are playing with fire when they attack the commander in chief of the United States in a time of war. Isn’t that treason? As to the other tyrants in the Middle East, the lessons are potentially two and very different ones. On the one hand, the leaders of Syria and some of the remaining oppressive regimes may decide that they cannot let popular uprisings succeed or they too will be captured and killed like Saddam Hussein and Gadhafi. That means they will increase the repression and hold on to power at all cost. On the other hand, they might decide that they need an “exit strategy” from their country and transition power to other forces in a relatively orderly way. Which of these will motivate Syria’s leader Bashar al-Assad or Yemen’s longtime president Ali Abdullah Saleh we don’t know. However, President Obama has already said that they should go. Given the success in Libya, if I were either of these leaders I’d start looking at my options very carefully and make sure my bags are packed. As for the Republicans, my advice is to stay as far away as they can from any foreign policy attacks on Obama. If they don’t, the president will rerun video of the capture and death of Osama bin Laden and Gadhafi and surround himself with U.S. military when he does so. The era of shouting that Obama is soft on terrorism and weak on military is over, and any effort to dig up that line of attack from the grave is just going to backfire on the GOP. After all, Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has Obama’s back. Whether all of this will bring peace and democracy to North Africa and the Middle East we don’t know. I hope that the options are not limited to “Brutal Dictator” or “Chaotic and Radicalized State.” There has to be a third way. For now, we know that few are mourning the death of one of the world’s biggest sponsors of terrorism, who killed Americans in cold blood, supported every terrorist group imaginable in Africa, bringing death and misery to those troubled countries, and mocked the Western democracies for four decades. There has to be some good in that.
Pages to are hidden for
"Schmidt - DMACC"Please download to view full document