With his Libyan actions, here is the message President Obama has conveyed to the world’s despots:
- If you decide to crush an internal rebellion, do so quietly with your police force not your military – certainly not your air force.
- As long as you don’t raise so much worldwide ire that the French are called to arms, you may otherwise continue your oppression unobstructed.
- The United States will not lead an effort to stop you, though we might contribute if others lead.
- The United States believes strongly in democracy for your citizens, but not so strongly that we are likely to back our beliefs with the full force of action.
- We will act only if both of the following conditions are met:
- you have previously demonstrated yourself to be a brute outside of your own borders, and
- it is convenient for us to act (meaning we can do so with very little risk – in the broadest sense of the word – to ourselves).
- If we do act, you can rest assured we will not take you out. We might kill some of your soldiers, but you yourself are safe. You will be free to resume your oppression as soon as our intervention is concluded, which we promise will be brief.
Republican or Democrat, conservative or liberal, like it or not, that is the message he has conveyed.
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