Libya & the CNN Effect
The Obama administration does the right thing.
Paul Miller makes a very important point:
The administration looks to me like it is being driven by the CNN effect. Libya is in the headlines, dramatic events are afoot, so the administration believes it must do something, it must act, probably to demonstrate resolve, or exercise leadership. It isn't leadership to let the media drive your foreign policy. If the exact same thing were happening right now in Equatorial Guinea, no one would care and we would not be contemplating a no-fly zone.
The administration is blundering into an unnecessary crisis, setting unrealistic expectations about our ability to drive events in Libya, and exposing itself to the dangers of unplanned escalation and mission creep. If we're to have a grand strategy centered on building the liberal democratic peace -- which is not a terrible idea -- it should start from more considered reflection, not lurching overreaction to a crisis over which we have little control.
It's worth pointing out that the administration is being goaded into this course of action by U.S. lawmakers too, not just journalists. But Miller is right: no core U.S. interests are at risk in Libya. The administration is going to be criticized no matter what it does, but far better to be assailed for inaction (or as I prefer to describe it, restraint), then to act recklessly.