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In Libya, Some Americans Want This And Some Want That

Some want "regime change" to end the "brutal oppression."

Some want America to "do what's right, as America always does," and come down on the "side of humanity." (whatever that is).

Some  want America to be "on the right side of history."

Some want America to "do what the international community has declared must be done." 9India, China, Russia, Brazil, and Germany, most of sub-Saharan Africa, and several countries  in Latin America, are apparently not part of the 'international community")

Some whose tired old eyes have seen it all want America to make sure it does not fall into a long-term commitment.

But no one seems eager to say what in another age might be so obvious it would not need saying:

1. Any war among Muslims, within a country, or between countries, should go on as long as possible.

2. Non-Muslims should watch the war, and the images of violence and general chaos  and conspiracy-theorizing and lying on all sides should be taken in, and understood to be a feature common to Muslim societies, and explained by Islam itself.

3. Non-Muslims should not intervene or give aid except, possibly, to help the weaker side not to succumb at once, so as to allow the conflict to be prolonged.

In Libya, as in Iraq, the goal -- of a stable and relatively peaceful country -- is exactly the wrong goal.

And in Libya, as in Iraq, not only will that goal not be achieved, but the intervention meant to achieve it will have quite different, unexpected, but highly desirable consequences.

In Iraq, the American intervention made possible, made inevtiable, the transfer of power from Sunni Arabs to Shi'a Arabs, a new dispensation which rankles Sunnis inside and outside Iraq, and will have consequences, in sectarian strife, not only in Iraq but in many other countries in the Middle East, and even in distant Pakistan.

In Libya, the American intervention made possible, made inevitable, a much longer battle between the forces based in Tripoli, those of the Qaddafy family and its courtiers, and those who do not want the Qaddafy family to continue to rule in any part of Libya. American air attacks, and then American refusal to put "boots on the ground," have ensured that the conflict will not be settled quickly.

Two good outcomes.  Both unintended.  It's apparently going to be the Age of Unintended But Certainly Consequential Consequences.

So be it.