Pros, Cons of Palin’s Facebook Post on Post-Gadhafi Libya

by on July 3rd, 2014
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COMMENTARY | While chaos still swirls around Libya, particularly the capital city of Tripoli, former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin has posted some helpful suggestions to her Facebook page about what American policy should be going forward.

Palin has previously criticized President Obama’s Libya policy as being unfocused and prone to mission creep. Now that, months after Obama had promised, Gadhafi has fallen and is on the run, Palin has some more ideas.

Her first bit of advice is to avoid the mistake President George W. Bush made in the wake of the initial invasion of Iraq and display triumphalism. One suspects Obama will not make a speech in front of a banner that says “Mission Accomplished” anytime soon, but Palin’s point is well taken. This is the end of the beginning. There will be years of work in Libya repairing the damage Gadhafi inflicted, not to mention helping the Libyan people form some kind of democracy and avoid an Islamist state.

Second, Palin suggests using diplomacy to assist the pro-democratic elements of the Libyan insurgency and suppressing the Islamist, pro-terrorist elements. Diplomacy has a somewhat limited utility unless it is backed up with a carrot, i.e. foreign aid, and/or a stick, i.e. armed force.

Palin’s third suggestion largely rules out ground troops in Libya, even to distribute aid. She makes the point that the area is still unsettled and, because of prior commitments and Obama budget cuts, the military is stretched. However, this rather limits American ability to influence developments on the ground.

Palin’s final suggestion to use “intelligence assets” to monitor the development of the new Libyan polity and ensure that it is not dominated by Islamist pro-terrorists is a little vague. Doe that policy go beyond monitoring? If a Libyan Al Qaida sympathizer appears to be winning, is he to be taken out with a Predator drone strike or a sniper? How far is Palin prepared to go to prevent a Libyan government that is pro-Al Qaida?

Palin’s proposal suggests she believes that the ability of the United States to influence things inside Libya is somewhat limited. But at the same time the necessity for the United States to exert influence is very evident. She does not seem to have resolved the contradiction between these two positions.

Sources: On the Future of Libya, Sarah Palin, Palin Facebook Page, August 25, 2011

Palin’s Advice to Obama on Libya Clear, Compelling, Mark R. Whittington, Associated Content, April 26, 2011

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