Home > Current Events, Diplomacy, Grand Strategy, Policy, Strategy > Be Careful What You Wish For: The Perils of Multilateralism

Be Careful What You Wish For: The Perils of Multilateralism

The President has taken his lumps from both the left and the right on the Libya intervention.  The right accuses him of not doing enough, or alternatively, of not articulating a clear mission and end state for our military actions in Libya.  Of course, this is par for the course – the right is opposed to Obama’s actions simply because they are Obama’s actions – itself a commentary on the madness of our political dynamics.  The best example of the madness on the right has to be Newt Gingrich’s flip-flop – he was for the Libya no fly zone before he was against it…

More interesting, however, is the response on the left.  The left has had it with war in general, and is frustrated with the President’s relatively hawkish policies.  The left got a lot of political mileage out of George W. Bush’s “unilateralism” vis-à-vis Iraq.  However, when you embrace multilateralism, Libya is what you get.  A multilateral United States may be required to play a supporting role in actions which we might not otherwise wish to get involved in.  The result may be the same kinds of wishy-washy strategy and ambiguous end state we see in the Libya operation.

Perhaps those on the left were just trying to score political points against GWB with the “unilateralist” line of attack.  Or, perhaps they really thought a multilateral US was the foreign policy equivalent of a group hug.  Probably a combination of both.

One thing is for certain…multilateralism is not the idyllic position that many imagined it to be.

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