If it reveals anything, the war in Libya shows that Obama’s predecessors didn’t spin their proclivities for unilateral action out of whole cloth. “The Libyan crisis has strikingly exposed the lack of a European defense policy: no ability to achieve a common political vision and no capacity to take on an operation of this kind,” said French defense analyst Bruno Tertrais, while a European diplomat predicted to the German news agency Deutsche Press Agentur that a common European defense policy “died in Libya—we just have to pick a sand dune under which we can bury it.” Indeed, the Germans have remained strenuously neutral during the conflict, other than to snipe at the French and the British, while the latter, according to The Washington Post, have nearly run out of bombs to drop.
Far from caviling about the American hyperpuissance, the Europeans have been reduced to pleading for an escalation of U.S. involvement (such as it is). To which the American response has been swift, unequivocal, and wholly beside the point: “Unilateral, open-ended military action to pursue regime change isn’t good strategy, and wouldn’t advance American credibility anywhere,” National Security Council spokesman Tommy Vietor insisted, even though what was on the table was a request for multilateral, limited action to pursue a humanitarian end. Perhaps sensing that if America wills the ends, America really ought to will the means, the administration has now dispatched Predator drones to the skies above Libya. Animate pilots, according to the Beltway buzz, may soon follow.