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Spencer, here's the thing. Many of us opposed this operation, not on practical grounds (it won't work), but on procedural grounds (if you want to go to war, you need to go through the War Powers Act and ask Congress first). They both matter, but are different.

I opposed Iraq both because I didn't think we had the reasons to go to war (WMD, 9/11, etc., all of which were tenuous at best, and the former didn't justify war as many nations we don't like have WMD's) and because, contemporaneously, many informed people doubted the intelligence that the Administration was pushing. These were additive reasons. But either would have sufficed.

I think the lesson we need to learn from Libya is that a LIMITED international force can have limited, but important, effects. It can support an indigenous movement against a dictator. It can't unilaterally oust that dictator and place someone more tractable into office. It can coordinate air strikes. It can't take over land battles.

But all of this is predicated on giving the military a military mission. Overthrow and install a government is not a military mission. A no-fly zone is. Bombing specific targets is.

The success of Libya was predicated on a military mission. We have one of the most well-trained and well-equipped armies (in the collective sense that includes the other branches) in the history of mankind, if not the most well-trained and equipped. If we tell them to do something the military does well -- take and hold land, blow X up -- they will do it, and they will do it well. In Libya, the Obama administration did that. Success is not sure to follow from that formula, but it's more likely. If we tell the military to establish a zone for governance (Afghanistan) or depose a dictator and keep the peace (Iraq), success is unlikely.

But I don't admit that I was wrong to oppose the Libyan effort. I'd likely have supported it if the Administration had included going through Congress and making the argument to the American people. Without that step, we ought not be committing our military to an operation. Because the wrong lesson is that we've gone from Congress declares war to the President prosecutes war with Congressional acquiescence to the President declares war and screw Congress and/or the people. If that's the lesson learned, Libya was a horrible, horrible mistake.

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