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Egypt and the United Arab Emirates have admitted they launched combined air strikes in Libya this past week.
There are two aspects of this story that are significant. First:
Egyptian officials explicitly denied the operation to American diplomats, the officials said. It is almost as if the theme of ignoring and/or mocking US superpower status exhibited most recently by both China and Russia, is gradually spreading to even the more “banana” republics around the world. Because, while one can debate the pros and cons of any previous administration, it is very much improbable that any regime, especially ones as close to the US as the UAE, and to a lesser extent Egypt, would have conducted such military missions without preclearing with the Pentagon first.
Desperate to stop radical Islamists from taking over Libya, Egypt and UAE made the decision to act without U.S. involvement, on their own. They no longer felt obliged to get our advice, or even tell us what they intended to do.
Second, the air strikes illustrate how the Middle East is becoming increasingly destabilized. The U.S. is seen as weak and unwilling to act. Thus, the radicals move to grab power, and the status quo elites feel compelled to respond.
As long as Barack Obama is in power, expect this unstable situation to become even more unstable. When we occupied Iraq we brought stability and the promise of civilized rule of law. Until recently that stability was held together by either our presence or the belief that we would return if things got out of hand. Now everyone in the Middle East knows the U.S. will do nothing, no matter what happens. They are on their own. And the crazies are moving to take advantage of our absence to bring chaos to the region.