Where There Won't Be Vindication

Over at Greg's I mock the right's reaction to good news in Libya:

McCain and Graham, both of whom had warm personal interactions with Ghadafi in the past, have now gotten exactly what they wanted from the administration’s decision to intervene. But GOP partisanship demands that they not acknowledge the president’s role in assembling the global coalition that aided the rebels. Indeed, with the Republican Party wedded to a contradictory image of the president as foreign policy weakling and iron-fisted domestic dictator, we’re going to see a lot of bizarre rationalizing of what happened in an attempt to preserve this narrative of the Obama presidency.

While the Libyan rebels have earned a moment of celebration, toppling Ghadafi was still the “easy” part, relatively speaking. The “hard” part is the post-conflict transition to a stable government that respects the individual rights of its citizens. The premature celebrations of victory in Iraq in 2003 should be a reminder of this.

 A separate point--no matter how things work out in Libya, nothing will vindicate the Obama administration's decision to ignore the advice of the Office of Legal Counsel, the Pentagon and the Attorney General that congressional approval wasn't required for war in Libya. That decision may have serious longstanding consequences when future presidents decide to push the line even farther, pursuing far riskier and more perilous military interventions relying on the precedent Obama has set. Whatever the long term consequences of intervention in Libya, Obama has made it easier for his successors to unilaterally start wars without congressional approval.

That's even if, ultimately, the transition to democratic governance happens peacefully, or at all. Which is still a big if.

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