Indeed, one would think that after missing the boat during the Green Movement’s June 2009 uprising and standing idly by as Lebanon slid under Hezbollah’s boot that the administration would welcome the opportunity to lend a hand to oppressed Muslims struggling for their lives and for self-determination.

And if the “realists” in the White House aren’t moved by humanitarian appeals, one would think they would at the very least see there is geopolitical advantage in demonstrating that America is willing to flex its muscles. Iran is watching. Those who will come to power in new governments throughout the region are watching. We are being tested, and so far have been found wanting. ~Jennifer Rubin

Yes, this is what pro-war arguments are reduced to: unfounded claims that the U.S. has a moral obligation to take sides in a Libyan civil war, and the desire to have the U.S. “flex its muscles.” Interventionists rely on the moral obligation argument to cover up for the fact that the U.S. will not gain any advantage from intervening in another country’s civil war. Most likely, the U.S. would acquire another international ward, and in the process America’s reputation as a lawless, meddling hegemon would be confirmed. After the last decade, the U.S. and the world could do without additional American muscle-flexing. These people talk about foreign policy as though it were a body-building competition rather than the pursuit of American security interests and valuable international relationships. That may explain why their responses to foreign crises are what we might expect from steroid addicts rather than intelligent analysts.

Fly notes that previous no-fly zones didn’t have explicit U.N. authorization. That’s right. They were illegal. A Libyan no-fly zone, in addition to being inadvisable and not in the American interest, would likewise be illegal. As long as the major members of NATO capable of assisting the U.S. militarily insist that U.N. authorization is required, as a practical and political matter it is required.

Fly claims that it is in America’s interest that the Libyan people overthrow Gaddafi. What Fly means is that it would be a good thing if the Libyan people (or the greater part of them) overthrow Gaddafi. Let’s assume for the sake of argument that this is definitely true. This is a good example of how interventionists confuse something that would be a good outcome for the people in another country with something that affects U.S. security and interests. There is a significant difference between the two, and the failure and indeed refusal to recognize that difference is the sort of thing I was talking about yesterday. For example, it would be a very good thing for Zimbabweans if Zimbabwe were not ruled by Mugabe and his henchmen, but the U.S. has essentially nothing at stake either way. It is actually none of our business. This is troubling for people who believe that everything everywhere is our business, but the reality is that there are desirable political developments that could happen in a great many countries that have no implications for U.S. interests.

P.S. Rubin makes no argument as to what Obama could or should have done to prevent the legal formation of the new government led by Miqati. Apparently he should have told the Lebanese majority that they are only permitted to have governments approved by Washington. That would have been right after he magically gave Mousavi a majority of the vote by snapping his fingers.