Unfortunately, I expect that will not happen. But if we end up with predictable chaos, a lot of bloodshed, and an anti-American regime, I sure hope I resist the urge to scold my interventionist friends: “Happy now? This what you wanted? Al-Qaeda and the Muslim Brotherhood making mayhem?” I hope we’ll all take a deep breath and realize this is Libya: It was guaranteed to be a mess no matter what we did or didn’t do. But regardless of the outcome, the process by which the Obama administration took the country to war was deplorable. We ought to be able to debate that and fear what it portends without being painted as Qaddafi fans.
We don’t know what will happen in post-Qaddafi Libya. The first signs, however, are not very hopeful. The proposed draft constitution
, in its very first article, installs Islam as the state religion and sharia as the fundamental law. This is the same thing that happened in Iraq (increasingly, a satellite of the Islamic Republic of Iran, and a place where homosexuals and religious minorities are brutally persecuted) and Afghanistan (where two men have been put on trial for apostasy from Islam, a capital crime under sharia). All of the constitution’s rosy bits about liberties and respecting human rights must be read in the context of sharia’s supremacy in the event of a conflict. Moreover, we learn that Mustafa Mohammed Abduljalil, formerly the justice minister and now a prominent spokesman for the “rebels,” is the subject of a Wikileaks cable
in which he complained about the “Libyan people’s concern about the U.S. government’s support for Israel,” and expressed the belief that the root cause of terrorism is the perception that the United States and Europe are against Islam. (Hat tip
to Andrew Bostom.)
Moreover, John’s summons to make the “Bush freedom agenda” our compass for when to intervene is not persuasive. He says, “It is in our interests to bring down the authoritarian dictatorships in the Middle East and hopefully replace them with democracies allied in some way with the United States.” Hopefully? No. This is not an area in which it is responsible to substitute hope for a clear-eyed assessment of whether the dictator is likely to be replaced by something worse.
We hoped that Mubarak would be replaced with something better, and what we’ve got is the Muslim Brotherhood poised to take power — in an Egypt in which, with Mubarak gone, al-Qaeda now freely crosses the Sinai to conduct terrorist operations in Israel; an Egypt in which the people now call for cancelling the Camp David peace accords and protest outside the Israeli embassy in Cairo with signs bearing swastikas, warning Jews that “the gas chambers are ready.” The freedom agenda has also given us a democratic election that put Hamas in control of Gaza. Yes, we were hopeful that the accountability of governance would make the monsters more responsible actors. How’s that working out?
As I’ve said before, I am not an isolationist, and I believe in U.S. leadership on the world stage. That does not mean we are obliged to intervene militarily in every conflict. Nor does leadership mean that everything that happens in the Middle East is within our control — any more than it means that everything that happens there is our fault. The choice is not, as John would have it, between energetic intervention and “pulling out wholesale.” That is an oversimplification. I would suggest, instead, a foreign policy that is driven by concrete American interests (e.g., crushing al-Qaeda, regime change in Iran, undermining instead of empowering the Muslim Brotherhood) rather than dreamy hopes for the alchemical capacity of freedom to transform our enemies into our friends.
— Andrew C. McCarthy, a senior fellow at the National Review Institute, is the author, most recently, of The Grand Jihad: How Islam and the Left Sabotage America.