an interesting nugget dislodged from the reading queue re: the second order effects of intervening in libya.

Rather than thwarting proliferation, U.S. interventions on behalf of regime change provided additional incentives for rogue nations to pursue WMD. Iranian and North Korean leaders seem to have calculated that, more than ever before, their countries’ survival depended on possessing a WMD deterrent (a message that has probably been reinforced by the Obama administration’s decision to intervene in Libya in 2011 following Libya’s renunciation of its nuclear capability several years earlier).

melvyn leffler

this little bit about the interventionist (even limited in scope) activity wrt to libya poses an interesting dilemma for u.s. foreign policy. there’s a populist moral perspective that assisting uprisings which lead to the establishment of democratic governments is a good thing and on the whole this is likely the direction that we’d like to see our government take. but the secondary signals that emerge from this are more than a little thorny and certainly have the potential to encourage less than peaceful behaviors of governments which are at risk of populist rebellion and with nuclear ambitions.