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There has begun the usual gloating about how intervention is great – look Gadhafi is out!

Well, it’s great Gadhafi is out.  However, a bad idea is still a bad idea whether it works or not.  A few bank robbers get away with it but that is not a recommended way to earn extra income!   There is also the spectre of an illegal arrest and rendition to the International Criminal Court of a leader of a nation who did not agree to the Rome Treaty.

Let’s first review this gloat from Commentary.  Jonathan S. Tobin argues:

But even as we bestow this laurel upon Obama, it is time for those who bellowed the Libya intervention was a waste of American resources to similarly acknowledge they were not on the right side here.

I never said it was a waste of American resources but it was of course.  While we debated raising the DEBT CEILING so we can pay our bills, we attacked Libya, too.  But the issue is this:  Is overthrowing Gadhafi OUR business?

But the principle America has a right and a duty to intervene to topple governments that are a proven danger to both their own people and the rest of the world has once again been vindicated in Libya. *  *  *  When we hear their isolationist arguments in the future, let’s remember extending the reach of liberty is something very much in America’s best interests.

OHHH there it is that word:  ISOLATIONIST!  Can’t be that.  it was that famous ISOLATIONIST (and former President John Quincy Adams that said we do not go in search of monsters to slay or that famous ISOLATIONIST George Washington who advised us against entangling alliances with other nations:

It is our true policy to steer clear of permanent alliances with any portion of the foreign world; so far, I mean, as we are now at liberty to do it; for let me not be understood as capable of patronizing infidelity to existing engagements. I hold the maxim no less applicable to public than to private affairs, that honesty is always the best policy. I repeat it, therefore, let those engagements be observed in their genuine sense. But, in my opinion, it is unnecessary and would be unwise to extend them.

I’ll stand with J. Q. Adams and Washington any day over the modern day meddlers who want to send other people’s husbands, wives, sons and daughters to go “liberate” some nation (and perhaps to die doing it) when it is none of our business to do so.

The second gloat was an anti-Obama blog post at NR by Elliott Abrams.  But it is a gloat as far as intervention is concerned – if we have intervened better it would have been better for our interests:

Had the White House acted sooner and more resolutely Qaddafi could have been brought down sooner, and with fewer Libyan deaths.

Again, a bad idea does not get better because the bank is robbed by a mob rather than one or two robbers!  This is still a pro-intervention argument.

We had no national interest in Libya (we had made peace with Gadhafi and our word is worth something) and much harm, both potential and actual, can arise.  The worst of it is the power grab of the ICC.

About Elwood Sanders

Elwood "Sandy" Sanders is a Hanover attorney who is an Appellate Procedure Consultant for Lantagne Legal Printing and has written ten scholarly legal articles. Sandy was also Virginia's first Appellate Defender and also helped bring curling in VA! (None of these titles imply any endorsement of Sanders’ views)


  1. While I basically agree with the author, one should also consider the maxim that the only thing necessary for evil to succeed is that good men do nothing.

  2. Sandy Sanders says:

    Thanks for coming by Douglas and reminding us of Edmund Burke's famous quote. It is true that evil frequently wins when good men do nothing but I would say in response – where do we draw the line? What interventions are good and what are bad? I prefer to take a position that it is wrong to intervene in another nation's business absent a clear national interest. Feeling good is not a clear national interest. Besides, we are broke. We cannot afford international interventions. I would even suspend humanitarian interventions (other than private donations) until we are back on track financially.

    Thanks again for coming and reading our blog!


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Tom White Says:

Nothing is more conservative than a republican wanting to get their majority back. And nothing is more liberal than a republican WITH a majority.

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