The Corner

A Baffling Diffidence

The Great Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya should be one of the richest countries in the world. The ratio between its size (twice that of Texas) and population (about that of Indiana) should have resulted in untold per capita wealth, in the fashion of Norway. Add in its vast petroleum reserves (the sheer size of which is still not quite known), long beautiful coastline, proximity to Europe, and stunning Roman antiquities (among the best in the world), and compare that to its current desolation and poverty, and the full extent of the nightmarish five decades of Qaddafi becomes clear. And then we must factor in the global misery Qaddafi has wrought with his support of terrorism and assassination abroad.

In other words, with Libyans in full revolt, it is hard to understand why someone has not provided them aid to slay this monster, particularly because, while we do not know what follows, we can assume (a) it will be hard to be worse than Qaddafi, and (b) to the degree that we show some empathy and support in ridding the world of this thug, we might have an iota more influence with the succeeding government than we otherwise might have by our present hands-off policy. 

And when our past silence about Libya is seen in the context of prior American apologies to Iran and promises not to “meddle” when hundreds of thousands were protesting to end that theocratic nightmare, and yet again in the context of the embarrassing efforts at “outreach” to the Syrian government that is destroying a democratic Lebanon and an expert in political assassination, it is hard to know what the United States is thinking. What is it about Iran, Syria, and Libya that seems to earn either a weird respect or at least caution from the Obama administration, which otherwise seems to be quite bold in its serial pressures and criticism of democratic and allied Israel? And is this confusion a preview of what to expect when an ailing Castro passes on and thousands of Cubans begin to rejoice?

NRO contributor Victor Davis Hanson is the Martin and Illie Anderson Senior Fellow at the Hoover Institution and the author, most recently, of The Case for Trump.

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