“Gates and Clinton United to Defend Libya Intervention, and Say It May Least Awhile” (TIMES, 3/28/11)

So much for President Obama’s “finite” commitment to Libya. The two most powerful figures in his cabinet now think the intervention “could drag on for months or even into next year.”

This grim decision was reached by both Clinton and Gates after they had to “weigh humanitarian values against national interests.” Evidently, the former refers to innocent victims  of the airstrikes and missile launchings; while the latter refers to economic interests (big oil again?).

As things stand at this writing, the United States has 100,000 troops on the ground in Afghanistan, better than 50,000 in Iraq and a significant air and naval engagement with Libya. The U.S. dead in Iraq is more than 4000 and approaching 1500 in Afghanistan, not including mercenary forces.

The avoidance of further casualties is probably the reason the U.S. “has watched violent crackdowns in Bahrain, Yemen and other Arab countries without intervening.” However, if the Libyan campaign draws into next year, won’t that keep the flame of resistance burning and tempt the U.S. to play an active role somewhere else in the Mideast?



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