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Right Turn
Posted at 02:30 PM ET, 06/23/2011

Despite gross mismanagement, the Libya war must still be won

Paul Wolfowitz writes in the Wall Street Journal:

Libya may not rise to the level of a “vital interest,” as Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and others have assured us, but preventing it from becoming a haven for terrorists if Gadhafi survives comes very close. And while Libya is not as important as Egypt, as Vice President Joe Biden has told us, what happens in Libya affects Egypt and much of the Arab world. The Libyan fighting has burdened Egypt’s weak economy with tens of thousands of additional unemployed that it can ill-afford. The same is true for Tunisia.
Gadhafi’s fall would provide inspiration for the opposition in Syria and perhaps even Iran, whereas his survival would embolden the regimes in power there to cling on. The sooner Gadhafi goes, the greater the impact will be.

It is easy to lose track of this given President Obama’s muddled approach. He didn’t properly prepare the country or the Congress for military action after weeks of foot-dragging. He tried to off-load the war on NATO. And he’s been fundamentally dishonest about the objective: The war certainly is about regime change. If it’s not, it’s pointless.

Wolfowitz urges Congress not to vote to cut off funds for the war. If the House Republicans followed by the Senate were to do this, “those opponents will bear some responsibility for prolonging the conflict and the suffering of the Libyan people.” Wolfowitz gives some concrete suggestions for things Congress could do, including acting “to de-recognize the Gadhafi regime and to recognize the Transitional National Council (TNC) as the provisional government of Libya;” pushing Arab countries at risk from Gaddafi to pony up the cost of the war; jamming Libyan TV; providing training if not arms to the rebels; and the “provision of hospital beds for the severely wounded—both civilian and military—on board NATO ships in the Mediterranean.”

Certainly the administration should have been doing all of this and much more. Nevertheless, Republicans in Congress can be both critics and statesmen. They can show leadership not only on domestic matters but, when needed, on foreign policy. In short, by taking measures such as those Wolfowitz advocates they will provide a stark contrast between an ineffective, wobbly White House that seems predisposed to half-measures and a Republican Party which continues to act forcefully to defend our interests and those of our allies. In 2012 the electorate can then decide if it would be better to have a president that shares conservatives' refusal to diminish America’s authority and influence in the world.

By  |  02:30 PM ET, 06/23/2011

Categories:  foreign policy, House GOP

 
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