Friday, March 4, 2011

Looking Before You Leap

The Obama Administration may be a bit divided on what to do about Libya (h/t to Marc Lynch's ever helpful twitter feed) with the Secretary of State (Clinton) pushing for the use of force while the SecDef (Gates) is more cautious.  We may have forgotten, but this is often the case.  This is playing out just after Gates spoke at West Point, saying future SecDefs would be crazy if they wanted to launch a major land campaign in Africa or the Middle East.  Under Clinton, Madelaine Albright pushed for threats and then bombing to deal with Milosevic, while William Cohen was far less enthused.

The important thing is that Obama is mulling his options rather than leaping into yet another war in the Middle East.  There is no single right answer to this crisis, so it makes sense that the President is considering his options and trying to keep them all open.

Yes, people are dying in Libya, but jumping in with both feet may make things worse, rather than better.  Before acting, it makes sense to figure out the tradeoffs.  If things get worse, the calculations change.  I prefer my Presidents to be aware of reality and act accordingly.

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