Friday, April 01, 2011

EDITORIAL: Obama the Neocon

It’s nice to have a neocon back in the White House. With reports of CIA covert action in Libya, emissaries being sent to talk to the rebel government and ongoing air support for the anti-Gadhafi forces, regime change is definitely in the air. All we need to make it official at this point is for the White House to come up with a clunky new euphemism, like “nonpermissive humanitarian governmental transformation,” or some such thing.

Mr. Obama’s experiment in using covert action to take down Libya’s government may bring to mind similar CIA efforts against Mohammad Mosaddegh in Iran in 1953, or Chile’s Salvador Allende in 1973. But in spirit, the operation has much more in common with the 2003 overthrow of Saddam Hussein’s dictatorship in Iraq. At this point, the most significant difference is that there are no - or at least much fewer - boots on the ground. For now anyway.

Mr. Obama’s motive - trying to dislodge an authoritarian regime in the name of the Libyan people - are solidly within the neoconservative framework. Aside from programs to develop weapons of mass destruction - and Mr. Gadhafi’s were substantial - the fundamental belief in universal human liberty is at the root of the classic neocon foreign policy approach. When the White House talks about supporting the “legitimate aspirations of the Libyan people,” the word “Libyan” could be replaced with “Iraqi” and we’d be right back in 2002.

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