Calling for the Global Policeman

Will he answer?

As the Middle East burns and the "mad monkey king" of Libya rants incoherent threats to massacre his own people, the call resounds from international and leftish quarters that the great powers are morally obliged to intervene.  The London Telegraph reports:

An array of voices is arguing that if Gaddafi begins to exterminate Libyan citizens, of whom 1,000 are already reported dead, then the world will have a duty to intervene. Advocates range from Sir Richard Dalton, a former British ambassador to Tripoli, to Gareth Evans, a one-time Australian foreign minister, who yesterday argued that military options "cannot be excluded in extreme cases. Libya is as extreme as it gets".

This British paper coyly calls on "the world" to intervene, but considering that England just decommissioned their last aircraft carrier, it's pretty obvious that "the world" means "America."  Sure enough, it's reported that the USS Enterprise and USS Kearsarge may be heading into the Mediterranean towards the Libyan coast.


Nobody wants to see a cop...
until you really need one.

If they're coming to help evacuate American citizens, or even the citizens of our allies, well and good - heaven knows that the State Department's efforts have been a dreadful botch, with a grossly-undersized and overcrowded chartered ferry stuck in a violence-torn Libyan port because it wasn't designed to handle heavy seas.

Other than fulfilling our government's duty of protecting the lives of Americans abroad, however, why on God's green earth is it any of our business what the Libyans do to each other?

Do They Want A Global Cop Or Not?

For at least a century, the United States has tried to be a force for good in the world.  Virtually always, it has in fact been a force for good in the world - all of Europe would be either goose-stepping or wearing bearskin hats if it weren't for us, whether they acknowledge this or not.

When we threw in the towel on Vietnam, for all Jane Fonda's claims that we were fighting the socialist destiny of the Vietnamese people, two million of them preferred to risk a horrible death on flimsy rafts to living under a Communist regime.  How many Cubans have lost their lives fleeing the "worker's paradise" that we didn't trouble ourselves to try to prevent?

When Yugoslavia exploded into genocide, the Europeans tried to handle it on their own; after failing in the most humiliating way possible, sure enough, the call went out for Americans to spend lives and treasure in a "faraway country of which we know nothing."  Bill Clinton answered the call with a surprising degree of success and what thanks did we get from the world?  Jeers of derision and indignation when we accidentally bombed the Chinese embassy in Belgrade, for which we immediately apologized and paid compensation.

A observer on the planet Mars might suppose that a humane world would be pleased at the removal of a brutal dictator whose tortured and gassed his own people, who committed genocide against ethnic and religious minorities, and whose aggression against neighboring countries led to the deaths of over a million soldiers in several wars over a decade.

In the case of George W. Bush's removal of Saddam Hussein, that observer could not be more completely and utterly wrong: it would appear that the world's great and good would rather have the Butcher of Baghdad back in his palace randomly murdering whoever rubbed him the wrong way than to grant the slightest bit of credit to America.

Let us accept that Muammar Qadaffi, or Gaddafi, or however the heck he feels like spelling it today, is a bloodthirsty tyrant.

Let us make plain that he is a monster the planet would be better off without.

Let us furthermore clearly understand that he has been supported in his barbaric rule by countries that claim to be our allies out of greed for the oil wealth on which he squats.  Sending him to meet his Maker would not only be good for Libya, Libyans, the world economy, and the U.N. "human rights" committees which his regime befouls by its presence.


Why is it any of our business?  What thanks does America get for spending our blood and our treasure doing the world's dirty work and making the world a better place?  None whatsoever.

Why is it worth ending the lives of American soldiers, and dumping the tax dollars of a struggling American populace into a pestilential foreign rathole, merely to do good deeds that will beyond doubt be attacked as racist, neocolonialist, Islamophobic, and for all we know, discrimination against mentally ill rulers such as Gaddafi?

The Exceptionalism of American Integrity

There's actually a good reason: Because that's what America does, and whether our current Commander in Chief wants to admit it or not, saving the world is what America is.

Integrity has been defined as "doing what is right when nobody is looking."  America goes one better: it does what is right when everyone is looking and complaining about it.

President Barack Hussein Obama may believe America is unique just like every other country is - which is to say, not at all.  He may feel that every problem in the world is caused by American wealth.  The world, and Americans, know better.

It is no accident that Libyan calls for help aren't going out to China, Russia, France, Germany, or Japan, any one of which have, on paper, the military capability to intervene.

No, it is to America that the world turns when dangerous deeds of derring-do need doing - because for a hundred years, America is the only nation that has been both willing and able not only to do them, but also to tolerate the mudslinging complaints of global pygmies who only wish they mattered.

For the first time in living memory, that phone is ringing at 3AM - and America probably won't pick it up.  Guess Europe and the UN finally got what they wished for - America butted out.  Are they happy?

If there's any justice, come 2012, they'll be rooting for an American cowboy as just what a world on fire desperately needs.  Until then, they're on their own.

Read other articles by Hobbes or other articles on Foreign Affairs.
Reader Comments

I say we bring all the troops home and protect OURS. Better yet, put them on the boarder. If the world is on fire, let it burn for all we care. Its time we became self sufficient, and ride out the world storm because we will emerge from the wreakage on top.

March 2, 2011 11:32 AM
Add Your Comment...
4000 characters remaining
Loading question...