While the conflict in Libya isn’t over, it appears to be nearing an end.
The coalition of NATO nations prevented what appeared to be an imminent slaughter of rebel forces and their supporters early in the conflict. The coalition provided air cover which leveled the playing field for the rebels. They also provided tactical advice which proved crucial in organizing a rag tag group of untrained amateur soldiers into an effective fighting force that could take Qadhafi forces in Tripoli by surprise.
Early in the Libyan conflict, Obama was widely criticized for doing too little. Once he decided to engage he was criticized by some of the same Republicans for doing too much. In the end he appeared to have charted a goldilocks “just right” course. No US troops were in harm’s way. The Qadhafi government is in its last days and running out of money to pay its troops. While there was loss of life, the conflict ultimately did not become the bloodbath or quagmire predicted by Obama’s opponents. Total cost is currently at $896 million dollars and we have had no casualties. By way of comparison, that is less than three days of the Iraq war during the surge, and the average daily loss in just American troops during that conflict is just a tad shy of 20.
There is still a long way to go before Libyan rebels can declare victory and begin rebuilding their country. That rebuilding process is also fraught with peril, as we’ve seen in Egypt. While the political transformations of the Arab Spring continue, there is still the disturbing violence in Syria that may also ultimately require some international action. But the fall of Qadhafi can only be viewed as a victory for Obama’s foreign policy.
Here’s a quick summary of President Obama’s international accomplishments in his first term.
- Killed bin Laden
- Marginalized al Quaeda as a threat to the US
- Implemented troop withdrawls in Iraq
- Daring rescue in Somalia
- Foiled dozens of plots to commit terrorist acts on US soil
- Took a clear stand against torture
- Won the Nobel Peace Price
Finally, if we use the measure first proposed by George Bush for to justify his re-election in 2004, Obama has kept the country safe from terrorist attacks for the past three years.