Pundits and politicians are trumpeting the death of Gadhafi as if it is a vindication of NATO’s involvement in the Libyan civil war. Is it a shock to people that a coalition of the richest nations in the world managed to knock over the dictator of one of the poorest nations in the world? I don’t think anyone ever doubted that Gadhafi could be defeated, it is just a question of should it have been a NATO mission to defeat him.
We can dispense with any pretence that this was a mission to protect innocent civilians. Mission creep began almost the second that bombs were launched. The objective was regime change plain and simple. The NATO forces had decided who they wanted to win the Libyan civil war and so, without looking too closely at the horse they backed, they ensured the desired outcome.
It isn’t so much that I object to the Libyan campaign itself, it is just that it is part of a pattern of American and, by extension, NATO policy that is neither sustainable nor beneficial. NATO can not indefinitely operate as the arbiter in every military conflict in every region in the world. The countries that have the real military capacity (i.e. the United States) are going broke and are unable to sustain the level of military spending that will ensure victory anywhere anytime.
Furthermore, this sort of involvement tends to breed resentment especially if the interference inadvertently installs a dictator that is even nastier and more brutal than before.
The unintended consequences of this sort of resentment are already clear. Ultimately the people living in the NATO countries become increasingly drawn into conflicts that are not of their making and have little to do with their interests. Blood and treasury will be spent maintaining a dominance that just barely keeps a lid on an ever growing boiler of violence.
Killing one man does not make these concerns go away.