Libya as a Return to Limited War

Greg Scoblete responded to my argument in support of a military intervention in Libya, which he aptly dubbed the "Because We Can" standard, by questioning just what it is we think we can do:

It's important to recognize that intervening in Libya and bombing Gaddafi's supporters is not the same thing as finding a politically acceptable end-state to the country's rebellion -- a fact that is being resolutely overlooked by most of the campaign's supporters. So, yes, there are very low barriers to entry in Libya, which makes it attractive where a campaign against Bahrain or Burma is much less so. But it's the barriers to exit that matter most.

In a parallel but in some ways related critique, Daniel Larison took me to task for reducing the scope of international responses to a humanitarian crisis to military interventions:

Interventionists have discovered that the rhetoric and legal loopholes provided by "responsibility to protect" are useful tools for starting new wars, which is why they conveniently forget that conflict prevention is part of any "responsibility to protect" position. . . . There is probably much more good that could be done by working to reduce political tensions [in at-risk countries] than can be achieved by escalating a civil war into an international conflict.

Both raise good points, although in fairness with regard to Larison's critique, I'm not an interventionist, and I was specifically addressing the issue of why a military intervention in Libya and not in Côte d'Ivoire. In previous posts, I have argued for political and non-military humanitarian approaches in Libya as well.

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