Well, first off, while I’m usually always willing to take down a dictator by force, believe it or not I am not going to be arguing for anybody to send an army to Libya. I advocate this policy for two reasons. First, no country I particularly trust has all of their forces available, what with Afghanistan still an issue and Ahmadinejad and Kim Jung Il always being more than willing to play the psycho card it’s not like there are a lot of free standing armies available. (And while the French aren’t overly committed right now, I don’t trust Sarkozy growing a spine is particularly indicative of the entire French population).
The second reason military forces shouldn’t be sent is that the Libyan people have already started their revolution, and it will create stronger psychological dedication to making sure the revolution does not just result in another dictator. People value what they have to sacrifice for, and if we just go in and do it for them it will not create the ground work necessary for a successful nation in the future (see Afghanistan). However, that doesn’t mean we can’t have strafing runs on Qadaffi’s tanks and other armored fortifications to even the playing field. Nor does it mean we can’t send in the Rangers/SEALS/Deltas or SAS to get rid of the nut job dictator himself. And I’m all for giving help—not winning it for them, but giving help. Will we do it? No. Obama’s a gutless wonder. Will Cameron, Sarkozy, or Merkel. Quite possibly! And if they do I applaud their actions.
But more importantly than getting rid of the dictator is setting the ground work for a lasting democratic, secular, Classically Liberal representative government in Libya (or anywhere for that matter). The international community needs to make it very clear from the moment Qadaffi is toppled, that Libya has a choice. They can go their own way back into a dictatorship or some kind of psycho Taliban-style theocracy and be shunned and embargoed by the entire world to the point where they envy North Korea…or they can be lavished with aid, infrastructure repair and help (again, I could swear we had some people in this country who needed a job). Tax breaks will be given to any company from any nation that wishes to invest in this new Libya. And for this help all they have to do is guarantee a secular government, that representative authority chosen through democratic means (and probably outside observers for a decade or so), that women are constitutionally acknowledged as the equals of men, that protection of religion and freedom of speech are guaranteed, and that all the other freedoms and liberties that these people are fighting for are protected. Also, a promise by treaty that once Libya is stable enough to spare troops and money that they too will help rebuild the next nation that chooses to go from tyranny to democracy.
Now some things we also have to offer in addition to Marshall Plan style rebuilding is, among other things, military support on the borders of Libya until they build up the their own forces enough to defend their own borders. One thing we should all have learned from the last ten years is the military dangers (Afghanistan and Iraq) and economic dangers (just look South) that come up with unprotected borders.
I think Libya is the right place to focus on right now because if we can create a stable Liberal nation bordering Tunisia and Egypt (which already borders another Liberal democracy in Israel) this will help to bring these other two nations out of tyranny (yes, Egypt is still under a military tyranny, just because Mubarak left it doesn’t mean anything changed) and into a Classically Liberal model which defends the rights of the people.
Will this put us further behind on paying off our debt? Yes. But it will create a new bastion of economic development, which in turn will help the economies of every country that deals with it.