Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Leading the fight

Perhaps I was a bit too ready to accept the line that the French and the British were going to take the laboring oar in Libya. I thought that Libya's proximity to Europe would change the ability to project power dynamic in this case, but at least one expert's response is "not so much". See, e.g., here.

There is a lesson here for those who support what are known in international law as humanitarian interventions. Unless the intervention is very small or very swift or both, no country in the world but the U.S. can do it. We alone have the money, the technology, and the trained personnel. We alone have shown the willingness and ability to project power over long distances for a sustained period. Many people, both in America and abroad, are uneasy with this preponderance. But it cannot be wished away. If other NATO countries hope ever again to be equal partners, they will have to increase their defense spending significantly. True, they could wait instead for us to reduce ours. But then the world would be left with no one able to prevent a slaughter—even in those rare instances when the world decides to try.