18 March 2011

I have severe misgivings about today's UN Security Council resolution against Libya. Andrew Sullivan has asked all the right questions; I can't but help thinking of 1588, when Phillip II of Spain was absolutely convinced that Queen Elizabeth had to be removed from power in England. Spanish troops were already heavily committed in the Netherlands, fighting a Protestant insurgency, and the imperial budget had fallen deeply into deficit. But Phillip and his courtiers allowed themselves the belief that God would deliver victory, and a speedy regime change in favor of good Catholic government in England.

This is in no way a defense of Gaddafi's conduct towards his own people recently. (Elizabeth I enjoys an illustrious reputation crafted by English historians, but she would have found 'human rights' a laughable idea, and was quite willing to crush without mercy any rebellions against her.) The best hope for making Libya a better place is not bombing, but a nonviolent resistance movement that is Islamic in character. Millions of Egyptians just showed us how it was done.

Edit: I also find it interesting that Angela Merkel, who grew up in totalitarian East Germany, is the most skeptical among Western leaders about military intervention.

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