A 10-year-old could point out the double-standard at play as the U.S. intervenes in Libya yet sits idly by while Western-backed dictators and monarchs violently repress popular uprisings in Bahrain, Syria and Yemen.
Consistency provides America with protection by undermining the criticism used to rally recruits in counter-U.S. efforts. An inconsistent track record -- humanitarian intervention in some cases but not others -- gives fodder to our foes.
Those who suggest that the allies' bombing in Libya is motivated by oil miss the fact that the simplest means to ensure control over Libyan oil was to go on dealing with Gaddafi, as they had been for decades.
When I listened earlier this week to Obama's speech on the Libyan intervention, my thoughts kept drifting to Joseph Conrad's unforgettable description of a late-nineteenth century colonialist warship shelling the African coastline.