All eyes are on Gadaffi and the Middle East as the American people and their leaders watch in earnest and wonder what course of action the nation ought to take. Granted, it’s a touch issue. I’m generally anti-intervention, yet the very dire consequences of letting Gadaffi survive provide a strong counterpoint to my philosophical convictions about the role of the military abroad.
And then I read about Alan Gross. While we weigh the prospect of sending our military to intervene in a conflict across the ocean to carry out good intentions for non-Americans, we are letting an actual citizen face the prospect of death at the hands of an oppressive regime 90 miles from our coast. Where are the defense hawks for Mr. Gross?
It’s not that I don’t care about Libyans. And it’s not that I don’t recognize that energy security is a national interest and one that the Libyan situation is impacting. But there are very real consequences to intervention in other sovereign nations. America for years during the Cold War executed (no pun intended) a policy of picking winners in instances of foreign civil strife, and the track record is humbling. Furthermore, governments that are instituted by America’s sword are far less legitimate than those instituted by their own. And, the explicit task of the US military is to provide for the common defense of the nation. This notion that America needs to subsidize a global public good for the benefit of all seems wrong to me. Then again, I believe in limited government.
Mr. Gross is soon to go to trial, where he, at 61 years of age, faces potentially 20 years in prison. I’m not saying that there should be a military intervention to save him. I’m not even saying that the Obama administration do essentially the bare minimum and follow the Wall Street Journal editorial board’s recommendation of disrupting the Cuban regime by not allowing it’s dissidents the escape valve of visas to come to America.
What I am saying is that comparing the situation in Libya and Cuba to the goals of the US military, the responses seem disproportionate and arbitrary. And that’s bad news for Alan Gross, and a shame to the credentials of those who believe in activist foreign policy. Even worse, it’s an utter embarrassment to the logical consistency of the Obama administration if in fact a no-fly zone is implemented in Libya and Mr. Gross is allowed to wallow away in a Cuban prison. Of course, the no-fly zone might be logistically easier and pose less risk to American lives. It might also be better for poll numbers to act on an issue that has the public’s attention.
But then, those aren’t really reasons why we would commit to intervention, right?