Heritage Fellow Wary Of U.S. Involvement In Libya Proposes Long-Term Strategy For Involvement In Libya

March 21, 2011 1:24 pm ET — Walid Zafar

Here is a wholly worthless contribution to the discussion on Libya from Heritage Foundation foreign policy expert James Carafano (who has argued that the Egyptian Revolution began because of anger over the enforcement of property rights):

A simple and quick decisive outcome in Libya is unlikely. If the U.S. wants to safeguard its interests in the region, it is going to need a long-term strategy. The U.S. must: 1) Identify, aid, and muster support for a legitimate opposition that is free of terrorist elements; 2) Support responsible efforts to isolate the regime in Tripoli; 3) Support humanitarian operations to safeguard the lives of innocents; and 4) Prevent the regime from reacquiring weapons of mass destruction technologies, supporting international terrorism, or establishing terrorist sanctuaries in the country.

Conditions could always change (e.g. Qadhafi could sponsor another terrorist attack on the U.S.), but the U.S. contribution must be limited to avoid mission creep. Otherwise, a once limited U.S. involvement could grow into something more costly like Somalia and Lebanon. Unlike Iraq and Afghanistan there simply are no vital American interests that would justify wider intervention.

Carafano is against mission creep, so much so that he offers a list of several things the United States can and should do beyond the scope of the current objective of maintaining the no-fly zone and ensuring that Muammar Gaddafi doesn't slaughter the people of Benghazi. In other words, instead of mission creep, Carafano proposes long-term mission creep.

Carafano is one of those experts whose response to a given situation doesn't necessarily have to take into account the set of facts that relate to whatever it is that he is talking about. He knows that his job is to attack the president, and so he writes without regard for consistency or coherence. If subsequent paragraphs contradict one another, so be it; the point isn't making a reasoned argument but attacking the administration for conceding to international requirements on the use for force.

Carafano is also worried that the current campaign will fail in "fully protecting civilians." He neglects to explain why that is the case, but given that Heritage bills him as an expert on the issue, let's just assume that he has some idea what he is talking about. Several sentences later, however, he asks, "What does protecting civilians mean?" If he doesn't know what protecting civilians means, how can he posit that the campaign won't protect civilians?

It's almost like he has no idea what he's talking about.