Panel discusses warrant of military use in Libya

Allison Harris

A public affairs professor and former director of the National Security Agency said Saturday that President Barack Obama will have a difficult time justifying intervention in Libya.

At a discussion with three other panelists, public affairs professor Bob Inman said it will be hard to explain the rationale for military intervention when the country is facing an estimated $1.4 trillion deficit, according to the Congressional Budget Office. Obama will address the nation Monday night.

The Plan II Honors Program sponsored the talk, which was attended by about 175 people, as one of about 35 events on Friday and Saturday to celebrate the 75th anniversary of the honors program. About 275 alumni participated in the events, said Phillip Dubov, development specialist for the program.

Inman said tough economic times change the public’s priorities to focusing on protection of the U.S. rather than acting as a leader in humanitarian interventions.

“The case is going to have to be very strong of why it’s in the U.S. interest to participate, not just providing beneficial leadership to the world at large,” he said.

Panelist and history professor Henry Brand said a long-term reduction in defense spending while retaining popular entitlement programs, including Social Security, could destabilize the economy.

“Should the Pentagon’s budget be cut dramatically, the American economy might well find itself in strange territory,” he said. “I’m not saying that the economy cannot thrive in the absence of large and regular federal stimulus. I’m just saying that in the past, it has not.”

Panelist and law and government professor Sanford Levinson said politicians should pay more attention to potential financial emergencies, natural disasters and public health emergencies, which he said can and have impacted average Americans more than traditional national security threats.

“There are other kinds of national security issues that are, when all is said and done, just as important, that our political system seems to not be addressing at all,” he said.

Dubov said the Plan II program chose national security as a topic because it was relevant.

“You just need to look at the newspapers today to see how important national security and international events are,” he said.

Kapil Saxena, a Plan II and biomedical engineering senior, said he took a class with Inman and had attended several talks by panelist Hans Mark. He said he appreciated the diverse backgrounds of the panelists.

“Just one person speaking, you kind of get a single-sided perspective,” he said. “All four of them have these very, very different paths where they can play upon each other and find these links and make a true conversation.”