Neocon Paul Wehner writing in the latest issue of The Weekly Standard says:
The United States, having gone to war against the Libyan regime, now has to decide whether or not to allow Qaddafi to stay in power.
Wehner goes on to say:
Four decades-plus in power have been more than enough. It is time for the Butcher of Tripoli to leave the stage. Whether that exit is accomplished by means of exile or cruise missile or hangman’s noose is irrelevant. In this instance justice may be delayed. But it need not be denied.
These statements represent classic neoconservative thinking and demonstrate clearly the arrogance of neoconservatisms dogma of American exceptionalism.
First off, the United States has not gone to war against the Libyan regime; the international community, through the United Nations, has taken steps to protect the civilian population of Libya from being killed by Gaddafi’s forces and the United States has had a part to play in that role. There is a vast difference. Even President Obama in his speech last night at the National Defense University in Washington took care not use the word ‘war’ but, rather, referred to US action in Libya simply as ‘American military involvement’.
Secondly, contrary to Wehner’s opinion, it is not up to the United States ‘to decide whether or not to allow Gaddafi to stay in power’; it is entirely up to the Libyan people.
With regard to the neoconservative’s notion of ‘justice’, this too is adequately displayed in Wehner’s rhetoric. The kind of ‘justice’ Wehner talks of is not justice; it is violent revenge, exactly the kind of violent revenge that Wehner is accusing Gaddafi of in the first place.
Gaddafi has committed warcrimes and the only proper course of action, if he is not killed in action, would be for him to be arrested for his crimes and tried at the International Criminal Court in Hague. If he is then found guilty, the court would provide the appropriate punishment. This then would show to other totalitarian dictators that the world will not tolerate them abusing their peoples and that when they depart from power either forcibly by revolt or by other means, they too will be arrested and, if found guilty, punished for their crimes. Exile should not be an option for these people except, of course, if it is in a prison after having been found guilty of warcrimes.