I don't think that there is any seriously thinking Western ally citizen (US, British, French) who believes that the war with Libya will not involve ground troops from all or part of them, most likely American troops in the forefront. Yes, the President says it's not going to happen, yet if the current war on Libya succeeds in bringing down Colonel Gaddafi, then there is no doubt at all that the Western powers will send in many thousands of troops to "stabilize" and to "secure" the peace for the rebels. That means a long time commitment from Western nations that are already way, way, way, way overdrawn on their checkbook of troops and money.
IF the Western powers actually do succeed in helping the rebel forces get rid of Gaddafi, then all that means is that we have made a commitment to help them rebuild their nation, including building hospitals and refugee centers and schools and government building and on and on and on to the tune of hundreds of billions of dollars. No offense to the Libyan people, but I've heard this song before. It's been playing in my ears since 2002.
We invaded Afghanistan in a war that I think most (including myself) Westerners agreed with. We were brutally attacked on 9-11 and that attack demanded a hardcore and vicious response. That said, the President at the time used that attack as an excuse to invade another country that was no threat to us, simply because it would make money for defense and war contractors. Many of us differ on the Iraq war, but none of us can dispute that the Afghanistan invasion and the Iraq invasion left us (mostly the United States) with the self proclaimed responsibility to rebuild both of those nations, at the expense of our own. The American taxpayers (along with the British and any other nations foolish enough to follow us in) have spent tens of billions of dollars rebuilding the infrastructure of Iraq and Afghanistan, while we have sat helplessly by and watched our own fall apart. Now it seems we are about to do the same thing again. The question is not is it right or wrong to do so. The question is, can we afford it?
Can we afford the lives of our troops (and only a fool thinks that the lives of Western troops won't be lost. This IS war) and the money involved in conducting this new war? Which one of the Western economies is up to the task? It's not the French or the British or the Germans (who are smartly sitting this one out) and it sure is hell is not the Americans. We Americans have been called on time and time and time again and we have always stepped up, but we are in a massive debt because (and only because) of our perceived role as the police men of the world. We are broke BECAUSE of the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq. The single main reason our economy is in the toilet is because one of our previous leaders led us into wars we never should have been involved, that made the extreme upper class here rich and that screwed the rest of us over, including the economies of our friends and allies. Our previous President fucked our allies and for that I am sorry.
The United States of America needs to take a step back. We need to realize that we simply can not afford, in the lives of our troops or in our dollars, to rescue every country in the world that needs to be rescued. OUR country needs to be rescued first. How can we help when it is our economy that is being crushed? We need to rebuild ourselves, before we can afford to help other nations. Our troops are stretched incredibly thin. Many of our soldiers are doing 5, 6 or 7 tours in war zones and when we open up another front in Libya (and then Yemen and Pakistan) they'll be called upon to do as many as 10, 15 or 20 tours of duty in a war zone.
I would love it if we really could go around the world and rescue every group of people fighting against dictatorship and tyranny, but the simple truth is that we can't. Libya is our new bridge too far. We can't fix the world and we certainly can't afford to try to do so. We are destroying our own economy trying to and (in the end) that won't do anyone any good. If we collapse, all others collapse with us.
So tell me, have we gone a war too far?