The Corner

The End of the Libyan War

On the principle that you should judge something on the basis of what it is, rather than what people like Anne-Marie Slaughter say it is, I always thought the Libyan war was a 21st century punitive expedition against the Qaddafi family, pure and simple. Sure enough, even after we toppled his regime, we kept bombing him in Surt, we hit his convoy yesterday, and now that he’s dead, our military mission is ending. The Libya case strikes me as sui generis: the lesson is that if you’ve every brought down a jetliner full of Americans–on top of sundry other acts of mayhem and insanity–you can never truly come in from the cold, and if the chance to depose or kill you presents itself, you should have every expectation that we are going to take it. Of course, the Obama administration hesitated going in. I don’t fault it so much for that. It would have been better if the rebels had been able to do this on their own. Once it became clear that they couldn’t, and once our allies were banging the drums of war, it would have been very hard for us to continue to say “no.” Oddly enough, the Obama administration turns out to be better at killing people than at diplomacy: the “peace process” is a shambles, the “reset” with Russia is a disappointment, and relations with Pakistan are at a low ebb, yet bin Laden, al-Awlaki, and Qaddafi are good and dead. I have no sympathy for Qaddafi, but the brutal and lawless way he met his end doesn’t bode well for Libya’s future. It’s a trope to congratulate the Libyan people for what they’ve accomplished. If it weren’t for us, though, the rebels would be back in Benghazi hoping to keep alive a low-simmering insurgency. Nor have they won their freedom, as the cliché goes. Freedom will only come with establishing order and legitimate, representative institutions, much more difficult work than–with the help of the world’s most powerful military alliance–hunting down a rancid former dictator and shooting him in the head.

Rich Lowry — Rich Lowry is the editor of National Review. He can be reached via email: 

Most Popular

PC Culture

America Is Intolerably Intolerant

When you think of the sheer vindictiveness of what happened to Oklahoma quarterback Kyler Murray, it takes your breath away. On the very night of his greatest career triumph, a reporter dug up his old tweets (composed when he was a young teenager), reported on the most offensive insults, and immediately and ... Read More
Politics & Policy

How Democrats Can Blow It in 2020

Donald Trump probably can’t win the 2020 presidential election, but the Democrats can lose it. What I mean is that in a contest between Trump and a generic Democrat, Trump would almost surely lose if the current political climate holds through 2020. According to a Fox News poll this week, 38 percent of ... Read More
Film & TV

Clint Eastwood’s Unforgettable Curtain Call

At 88, Clint Eastwood seldom appears on screen anymore and last acted in a movie in 2012’s mediocre Trouble with the Curve. So the final images of The Mule may be the last we see of him at the movies. If so, what an exit: understated perfection, with a playful hint of subverting his screen image. The Mule is ... Read More
Film & TV

The Mob Gets Kevin Hart

This week, shortly after being tapped to host the Oscars, Hollywood star Kevin Hart found himself on the wrong side of the woke social-justice warriors. His great sin: Years ago, he tweeted jokes referencing homosexuality. More egregiously, in 2010, he did a comedy bit in which he discussed not wanting his son, ... Read More