Things are bad when a president who says he wants out of Iraq and claims American soldiers will soon start to withdraw from Afghanistan succumbs to international and domestic pressure to do the heavy lifting in yet another civil warthis time in Libya. Its as if there is a 'buy two wars and get the third war for half price special. What a deal The allied intervention in Libya is so absurdly half-baked that (ad hoc) coalition aircraft are supposedly bombing only when civilians are in danger, but not when Gaddafis forces are beating up the opposition. Thats because the United Nations resolution did not authorise helping rebel forces or throwing Gaddafi out of power. But it is unclear how bombing a building on Gaddafis compound fits under the category of saving civilians. Reporters who inspected the rubble said that it had been used by Gaddafi to receive dignitariesincluding previously some of the reportersbut appeared to have no command or communications equipment. Furthermore, theoretically, if Gaddafis forces fought only rebels and scrupulously avoided hitting civilians, then the coalition could sure save some ammo while patrolling Libyas skies. The vain hope seems to be that if the coalition attacks Libya from the airsince President Barack Obama has said no US ground forces will be sent the Libyan military will find it in their interest to throw out Gaddafi in a coup. Of course, coalition air attacks would have to terrify the Libyan military enough to do that. Instead, reporters who have interviewed high-level Libyan officials say that they appear quite sanguine about their prospects for riding out allied attacks. And Gaddafi and his minions have many grounds for optimism. Coalition forces can hammer Gaddafis ground forces on open terrainfor example, that on the outskirts of Benghazibut Gaddafis military, at the very least, could take refuge in and build up defences in the large cities. This would significantly reduce the effect of coalition air attacks, because they would have to be curtailed in metropolitan areas. After all, it would look really bad to slaughter Libyans en massecivilians for which the United Nations approved those very attacks to protect. In addition, it would be very difficult for the untrained, rag-tag opposition forces to take built-up cities held by trained Libyan soldiers. So without inserting coalition ground forces, a military stalemate may result, with Gaddafi controlling most cities and the rebels holding a few, including Benghazi. (The coalition will look even worse if Gaddafis continuing offensive against rebel holdouts succeeds even in the presence of the allied no-fly zone.) One can foresee an unsuccessful no-fly zone that lasts years, as it did in Saddam Husseins Iraq, with similar pressure building for the United States to invade and take out the demonised Gaddafi. The demonisation of Gaddafi started back during the Reagan administration. Once a foreign dictator is demonised by the formidable US governments public relations juggernaut, pressure builds to oust him in any way possible after sanctions and a no-fly zone have failed to do so. So look out for a long US entanglement in Libya and maybe a future American land war there. Gaddafis human rights record is certainly nothing to write home about, but it is about the same as that of US ally Saudi Arabia and not much worse than that of the Israelis in occupied Palestine, according to Freedom House. Besides, the US has not used military forces to protect civilians being abused to an even greater extent than in Libyain Rwanda, Sudan, the Congo, etc. And the Constitution says that the US taxpayer is on the hook only to provide for a 'common defence, not to stop violence many countries around the world commit against their own people or neighbouring nations. The bipartisan interventionist American foreign policy elites are in supreme denial, starting a third war when the US Empire is already slogging along in two quagmires. With more than a trillion dollar annual budget deficit and a $14 trillion national debt, the empire is overextended. Overextension by unneeded wars and interventions sank the British, French, Soviet, and many other empires economies throughout history. Those empires, too, thought it couldnt happen to them, as the US does now. To preserve the republic and its influence in the world, presidents have to push back against the overwhelming pressures for military intervention coming from the foreign policy elites and the vested interests that back them. Obama, analytical and seemingly a reluctant warrior by nature, has utterly capitulated to such interests. This outcome gives little hope that future presidents will be able to reverse the tide, run a more restrained and sensible foreign policy, and lead the world by example instead of extreme measures.