Commentary Magazine


Now Get Qaddafi

President Barack Obama, thank heaven, did not ask permission from anyone to take down Osama bin Laden in Pakistan. It would have been outrageous had he done so even if permission were granted. He knew it, too, which is why he didn’t dare. So it’s not clear why he seems to think we need permission or authorization from the United Nations to target Moammar Qaddafi in Libya.

It has been a long time since Qaddafi topped our enemies list, if in fact he ever did, but he’s awfully high on it now that NATO war planes are bombing his country. And the longer this stalemate in Libya drags on, the greater the likelihood that this will end badly for us and for Libya. Has it occurred to the White House and NATO commanders that Al Qaeda fighters, who already exist on the ground among the rebels in at least small numbers, may well flood the zone from all over the world as they did in Afghanistan, Chechnya, Bosnia, and Iraq?

It’s hard to imagine many people getting bent out of shape if we decide to target Qaddafi—aside from his family and loyalists, of course—and it’s even harder to imagine anyone who actually matters making a fuss. We’re already fighting a war against him whether or not that’s what we’re calling it, and the war will end sooner rather than later, and with fewer people killed, if the leadership is eliminated.

Multilateralism is great and all, but unilateralism has its place, not just in the foreign policy toolbox of the Bush administration, but now for the Obama administration, as well. If targeting Qaddafi will end the war quickly and cleanly, then there is no reason in the world that we should not do it.