Secretary of Defense Robert Gates said on “This Week” last weekend that invading Libya “was not a vital national interest to the United States.”
If it’s of no vital interest to the United States, why are we there?
Yesterday President Obama addressed the nation to clarify what the American mission is in Libya. He responded to critics by saying, “To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.”
This kind of statement sets a dangerous precedent. Does this mean that the U.S. will now engage in wars against any government that violates human rights? What about Venezuela, North Korea, Iran or China, who by the way owns one-third of the U.S. national debt? American interests have to come first in foreign policy.
For this last decade, Presidents Bush and Obama have directed their foreign policies with moral absolutism. Bush, in his doctrine, declared every country harboring terrorists an enemy of the U.S. Obama sees anyone violating human rights as an enemy. Both of these views are not doing any good for the country.
One thought that both Presidents should ponder is the American role in the world. The U.S. has no duty to be the world police and get involved in every international crisis. The Constitution makes no such claims that the U.S. ought to get involved in every foreign affair. In fact, the Constitution in Article I Section 8 does require that Congress declare war on a country in order for a President to command the forces. But that’s about it. Granted, isolationism is not the way. U.S. foreign policy should be more pragmatic or in other words get involved when American interests are at stake. So far, in the past decade, no interests have been at stake except for the war in Afghanistan, which was due to the fact that Al-Qaeda members occupied its mountains, hiding from reprisal for the Sep. 11 attacks.
As a result, President Obama should not have gotten involved in Libya. His secretary of defense is right. There are no American interests in Libya. The only remote American interest in Libya is the skyrocketing gas prices, but the same speech was given by the Bush administration when they were demanding Congress to vote for the war in Iraq. Bush made the case that if the U.S. would invade Iraq then gas prices would be lower. At least Bush made some case to the American people but Obama still hasn’t. For Obama, civilian deaths direct foreign policy.
Therefore, it is time for foreign policy to be pragmatic. First, due to the overwhelming amount of debt, the U.S. needs to cut military spending like any other spending. Enacting another war is not the answer. Libya is not the answer.