Nicholas Kristof, New York Times columnist, newly minted war-monger. On March 24 the Iraq war dove claimed the U.S. was being welcomed as liberators in Libya. On Sunday he applauded what the column’s text box admitted was “our inconsistent intervention in Libya,” headlined with a bleeding-heart plea: “Is It Better to Save No One?” He even called for "a SWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces" to swoop down and seize Qaddafi for trial in The Hague.
Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.
But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.
Would Qaddafi have followed through on his threat of a massacre in the rebel stronghold of Benghazi? We can't know for certain. But Kristof, who consistently opposed the U.S. intervention in Iraq, which ended the rule of a despot responsible for the death of hundreds of thousands of people, has suddenly become quite impressed with shifting government arguments on the necessity of intervening to stop humanitarian crises.
The International Criminal Court is investigating Colonel Qaddafi, with an indictment possible as soon as next month. It would be a fine step toward ending global impunity for atrocities if a SWAT team of Libyans and coalition forces swooped down one day and seized Colonel Qaddafi to face trial in The Hague. It’s the kind of thing that no one can predict, but it’s an ending that would leave this Libyan incursion remembered not only for the lives it saved, but also as a milestone in the history of humanitarianism.
National Review’s Greg Pollowitz said he looks forward “to General Kristof’s next column on just how we can actually accomplish this snatch-and-grab.”