That Whiff o' Freedom Smells like gas
Boy, I sure do hope that the threat of a no-fly zone forces Qaddafi to step down because if not it looks like we've got us another shooting war in the Middle East, once again based on the trope that we are good guys racing in to save the people from the bad guys. If only we could actually achieve such things, or were really interested in doing that.
This is not a war to save people. If we cared about that we would be intervening in Cote D'Ivoire, where there has been horrible violence on the same level as that in Libya. There is human misery all over the planet that we can't even be bothered to look at, much less intervene. So let's not kid ourselves about what this is about:
Oil reserves in Libya are the largest in Africa and the ninth largest in the world with 41.5 billion barrels (6.60×10^9 m3) as of 2007. Oil production was 1.8 million barrels per day (290×10^3 m3/d) as of 2006, giving Libya 63 years of reserves at current production rates if no new reserves were to be found. Libya is considered a highly attractive oil area due to its low cost of oil production (as low as $1 per barrel at some fields), and proximity to European markets. Libya would like to increase production from 1.8 Mbbl/d (290×10^3 m3/d) in 2006 to 3 Mbbl/d (480×10^3 m3/d) by 2010–13 but with existing oil fields undergoing a 7–8% decline rate, Libya's challenge is maintaining production at mature fields, while finding and developing new oil fields. Most of Libya remains unexplored as a result of past sanctions and disagreements with foreign oil companies.
Seriously, we are fighting two wars in the region already. And we have hardly "stabilized" the region. There are some good signs that the people themselves have gotten tired of the "oiligarchy" economies and are finding their way out of it. And some of those rulers are going to fight back. But I find it almost impossible to believe that we are actually going to make things better for the people. The objective is to stabilize the region for the oil companies.
If people want to talk honestly about this and admit what it is we are really doing then perhaps, as a democracy, we can hash this out properly. But using the uprising as an excuse to "intervene" on behalf of Exxon and BP has nothing to do with humanitarianism and liberals need to disabuse themselves of this illusion once and for all.
Like I said, cross your fingers and hope that Qaddafi is sufficiently scared that he backs down without the need for the UN to back up its threat. Otherwise I'm afraid everyone had better get ready for some more of that "sacrifice" they love to tell us we have to make.
We are in the midst of a fight for energy/resources and it's reaching crisis proportions. As we speak, we are watching one of our allegedly "clean" sources endanger millions of people with potentially lethal radiation. We are already fighting wars in the middle east over oil and it looks like we're not done yet. You would think that with this, plus climate change, we'd be sufficiently motivated to face the problem and put everything we have into dealing with it. Instead, we're playing games with people's lives and futures. The planet will probably survive, but it's not a good sign for our species.
Update: it's not about US "credibility" or a test of how macho we are. We've proved beyond a reasonable doubt over the past decade that we are willing to blunder into any shooting war and kill a whole bunch of people based on nothing but bullshit. No one can seriously doubt our willingness to drop bombs and spend trillions on useless wars. If that's the measure of our credibility we have no problem.
Update II: Spencer Ackerman asks the question: what happens next?
I don't know about the details but I'd be very surprised if they aren't committed for the long run to oust Qadaffi. There's just too much oil involved to let the pissed off crazy man run the place any longer. The real question is whether or not Americans and their friends are capable of doing it short of all out invasion a la Iraq (with all that comes after.)
I'd say we're stretched pretty thin, but maybe we can end all public schooling and health care for our citizens in order to pay for it.