George Will warns of ‘mission creep’ in Libya
Not everyone on the right thinks that U.S. involvement in the operation against Libyan leader Muammar Gaddafi is a good idea.
ABC News invited Iraq war architect Paul Wolfowitz and conservative columnist George Will Sunday to discuss the attack on Libya. Will seemed to have the Iraq war in mind when he warned Wolfowitz against “mission creep” in the Middle East.
“Do you think this was the right thing to do?” ABC’s Christian Amanpour asked Will.
“I do not,” Will said. “We have intervened in a tribal society in a civil war. And we’ve taken sides in that civil war on behalf of people we do not know or understand for the purpose of creating a political vacuum by decapitating that government. Into that vacuum, what will flow? We do not know. We cannot know.”
Wolfowitz quickly disagreed.
“I understand George’s hesitations,” Wolfowitz said. “If you follow George’s hesitations, you say, it’s better to keep this devil we know than getting in someone new. I don’t think anybody new could be worse than the devil in Tripoli right now.”
“Wouldn’t you say the hesitation, you can trace it write back to your operation in Iraq?” Amanpour pressed Wolfowitz. “There was such a pendulum swing against trying to intervene because of the chaos that was unleashed.”
“We’ve paid the price of intervention sometimes,” Wolfowitz admitted. “We’ve paid the price of non-intervention, in Bosnia, for example.”
Amanpour noted that there seemed to a “double standard” when it came to taking military action against Libya, but ignoring the regimes in Bahrain and Yemen.
“You can’t compare the regime in Bahrain or even the regime in [Yemen capital city] Sanaa to Gaddafi,” Wolfowitz argued. “Yes, there is a certain — there’s something in common here, which is regimes that don’t represent their people, they’re not only wrong their ultimately unstable.”
“I think what we should be working for in Bahrain, what we should be working for in Yemen are governments that are much more representative of their people so we can work with them better. But they’re not — it’s absolutely wrong to compare what’s happening there to what Gaddafi is doing and has been doing for 40 years,” he added.
“There is no limiting principle in what we’ve done,” Will countered. “If we are to protect people under assault, then where people are under assault in Bahrain, we’re logically committed to help them. We’re inciting them to rise up in expectation.”
“The mission creep here began, Paul, before the mission began,” he told Wolfowitz. “Because we had a means not suited to the end. The means is a no-fly zone. That will not affect the end, which is obviously regime change.”
This video is from ABC’s This Week, broadcast March 20, 2011.