Call me a naive religion prof., but while I was strolling among the shore birds on the Redneck Riviera, it appears as though President Obama’s little Libya gamble has been working out pretty well. He got his U.N. resolution, turned the tide of battle, achieved both tacit and active support from Arab governments, kept his coalition together, got NATO to take charge, and has the U.S. being cheered by one Arab street as all other Arab streets watch it on Al Jazeera. Oh, yes, and at the beginning of his reelection campaign has made the Republican opposition look like a bunch of anxious old maids. Not bad for a feckless law prof.
Sure, extruding Qaddafi from Tripoli may prove difficult and time-consuming. Only if you confine your military adventures to the likes of Granada and Panama (Lebanon, whoops!), can you be sure of the quick and easy. And no doubt, there are bigger strategic fish to fry in the Middle East, like Iran and Israel-Palestine. But Obama has sent a signal to Middle Eastern rulers and subjects alike that the U.S. is prepared to put its thumb on the scale and push–when the time and the place and the circumstances are right. Here was a bona fide revolt, a tyrant loathed by his people and his peers alike, a real threat of humanitarian disaster, and an accessible target. An object lesson? You betcha.