From Vietnam to today, the majority of US public opinion has supported confronting active threats to US security. And, naturally, Americans sympathize with the oppressed and their human rights. However, as the costs rose, time elapsed, and foreign policy dilettantes recoil from the realities of armed intervention, other firmer supporters increasingly bemoan the restrictions imposed by the half-hearted and the saboteurs of winning that not only cost more US military lives but place the end-goals in jeopardy.
In short, the inherent contradiction in US foreign policy is between those willing to undertake the burdens and those who undermine that will. This leads to initial enthusiasms that fade to regrets, and has created a new isolationism among many who favor strong actions but – having paid the price -- are unwilling to become wasted cannon fodder. This is particularly felt among many veterans who have felt the anguish of their efforts being undercut and frittered.
Most – but not all – of the usual advocates of an assertive US foreign policy argue for the US to be clearer and more forthright in standing by those in the Middle East fighting against its satraps – whether allied to or opponents of the US. The situation in Libya is the current front, while those in Tunisia and Egypt fade from the short attention span of the front pages.
The incoherency of President Obama’s foreign policies, from inauguration to now, however, undermines from the get-go the expectations of focus, perseverance, adequate means, and thus favorable results. The only consistent behavior shown by the Obama administration has been weak and dithering resolve to protect US interests coupled with rewarding enemies and undercutting allies.
There is nothing in the Obama administration’s handling of the current revolts in the Middle East that indicates a meaningful learning or reversal of this course.
Indeed, the ongoing dithering and waffling in the face of events only reinforces the view of an administration at best adrift in confusion, ignorance and denial, and at worst purposely dangerous in furthering US interests abroad.
There are good arguments to be made for the US intervening more actively and forcibly in the Middle East revolts, but in my view they pale before the lack of confidence that the Obama administration has labored so hard to deserve. This is especially so given the likely outcomes just enmeshing the US further in the Arab world’s self-inflicted dysfunctionality, with not even any worthwhile gratitude to result.
It is not easy nor consistent with our decency to see innocents or rebels slaughtered. It is less easy to send our sons and daughters into the cauldron created by the Arabs themselves, with only slightly marginal lasting results the best outcome and more likely not even that.
P.S.: Andrew McCarthy at National Review goes into more detail. Read it all, and think, think, think.