Commentary Magazine


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Outsourcing to Autocracies

According to NBC’s Andrea Mitchell, “there is ‘no U.S. support’ from the State Department for a no-fly zone over Libya, with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton instead saying that the proposal must go to the United Nations, where it is expected to face opposition from Russia and China.”

You never know. Sometimes Russia and China can surprise you on these things. Just kidding.

The file on support for Libyan rebels is now closed. The failed revolution belongs to history. But make no mistake about this: in outsourcing global leadership to the UN Security Council, the Obama administration did not allow the Libyans to be masters of their own destiny, as Fareed Zakaria or Tom Friedman would have it. It made Russia and China the masters of Libyans’ destiny. If the UNSC were to vote yes on a no-fly zone, the U.S. would spring into action and give them one. But when the Libyans asked, the U.S. shot them down and added that Muammar Qaddafi would triumph anyway.

Simply put, rebels were breaking free from a dictator when Washington placed their lives in the hands of two other dictators. During the Bush years, we only rendered guilty parties to foreign dictatorships, and that was just for interrogation. But this is what it means to defer to the UNSC in all matters of global security, to have a “humble” foreign policy. Twenty years after the fall of the Berlin Wall, the free world is at the mercy of autocracies in Moscow and Beijing.