The Spectacle Blog

Why Is the Left Silent About Libya?

By on 3.20.11 | 10:59AM

"My Twitter feed is full of Righties divided about war in Libya, but Lefties are oddly quiet," tweeted GOP political consultant Joe Henke.

The Left has been quiet, even as allied military operations against Libya commence. Why?

One obvious explanation is partisanship: Obama, as John Tabin notes, is a Democrat. But so was Lyndon Johnson, and yet, that didn't stop the Left from savaging him over Vietnam.

True, Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya are hardly Vietnam, which resulted in more than 58,000 American combat deaths. (In Iraq and Afghanistan, by contrast, fewer than 6,000 Americans have been killed in both wars combined.)

Still, I don't think partisanship explains the Left's silence about Libya. I think the more compelling reason is ideological.

Its rhetoric to the contrary notwithstanding, the Left doesn't really oppose war; it simply opposes American-led wars. And, as President Obama has made abundantly clear, Libya is not an American-led war; it is an American-supported war.

In fact, no U.S. ground troops will be deployed to Libya. President Obama, moreover, has pledged that the U.S. military's role in Operation Odyssey Dawn will be completed in days, not weeks.

U.S. naval vessels are launching Tomahawk cruise missiles at Tripoli to help set the conditions for a no-fly zone. And American command-and-control elements are involved, at least in these initial early stages of the operation. There even are reports now that U.S. military aircraft have belatedly joined the fray.

Still, the truth is that the heavy lifting and close combat here is being done by the French, the British, the Italians and the Canadians.

Some of our Arab allies -- the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Jordan, and Morocco, reportedly -- also are said to be involved. My guess is that they'll provided boots on the ground to aid and assist the rebel forces.

We'll see. In any case, from the Left's vantage point, Libya is a "good war" because American power has been carefully limited, circumscribed and subsumed within a larger international framework led by the Europeans.

Such arrangement might succeed in Libya, which is not exactly a formidable military foe. I mean, this ain't D-Day. We're dealing with a ragtag, mercenary Army whose loyalty is not to Gaddafi and the state; it is to money and the tribe.

But for more significant and complex military operations, America must lead. And that is why you can expect the misnamed anti-war Left to protest the next American-led war, but not necessarily the next American-supported war.

In the meantime, all of us, I think, should give thanks and praise to the new sheriff in town, French President Nicolas Sarkozy. Viva La France! 

UPDATE: links added, casualty numbers corrected. 

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