In today's Post, Anne Applebaum gives a vigorous, spirited, thorough demolition of the suggestion that the United States invade Libya to liberate it from Moammar Gaddafi. A brilliant argument, except for one minor detail: No one is advocating the policy she so energetically denounces, which renders her column not just puzzling but pointless.
Applebaum, however, appears to believe that I was advocating this ridiculous idea in my column on Libya last Friday. She seems to be under the impression that I am for ordering "the Marines to be sent back to the shores of Tripoli," having the Pentagon "launch democracy in Libya," and "sending in the 101st Airborne."
These attributions are hallucinatory. The only military intervention I referred to was the widespread call for a no-fly zone in Libya to prevent mass murder, shift the balance of power against Gaddafi and help the rebels prevail. Her protestations that no one has taken up this call are equally baffling. The list of advocates for a no-fly zone is long: U.S. senators, prominent American commentators and foreign policy experts, counterparts in Europe (France and Britain are drawing up a U.N. resolution authorizing a no-fly zone), rebel leaders in Libya and — here’s where Applebaum’s column becomes a bit surreal — Applebaum herself!
She is full-throated in denouncing my imagined lust for U.S. combat on the sands of Libya without having noticed that she is more interventionist in Libya than I am. I am deeply skeptical and circumspect about even a no-fly zone over Libya. I would demand that certain very strict conditions (far stricter than hers) be met before even contemplating one. (See here, www.nationalreview.com/corner/261295/krauthammers-take-nro-staff).
Applebaum also seems oblivious to the fact that my comparison of Libya and Iraq — contrasting the general moral support for some kind of intervention against Gaddafi vs. the equally general moral opprobrium heaped on the United States for having intervened to bring down the far more monstrous Saddam Hussein — was made not as advocacy for invading Libya but to expose the hypocritical double standard of post-hoc critics of the decision to bring down Hussein.