Saturday, March 26, 2011

Political Consequences

When we look at how consequences play out on a global scale, whether in our own country or around the world, the predictability factor gets even worse for computing results. What sounds good and noble often ends up anything but.

The United States watches as the Libyan people try to gain their freedom from a brutal dictator. The conflict turns violent as the dictator strikes back to maintain his power. Sympathy. Desire for doing what is right. Emotions boil. Any talk of looking at history is tossed aside.

Under the banner of the UN, the US enters into the conflict the usual way-- bomb bomb bomb Iran Libya like what McCain once joked. What will be the consequence? It might be democracy. It might be another dictator rising up, after the people get tired of the puppet the West puts in place, and either might end up as vile as Qaddafi. Consequences

Do nothing/do something/do anything and with any option we might end up with more people in the Middle East hating us. Not only that but how do we pay for what we are doing? Not paying for Iraq got us to where we are today. The people who want war often also don't want taxes to pay for it. Consequences

The US decides to help Afghanistan establish a democracy, which means eliminating the Taliban. The military then has a reason to stay in the war zone after its original purpose (getting bin Laden) failed. Chaos, the unpredictable enters the picture and the end result this time has ended up with some soldiers murdering and brutalizing innocent Afghani citizens. Consequences

Excuse me, but what did Americans think war was all about? When you look at the consequences of teaching people to kill others, of inuring them to the results, what happens in the war zone, once they return home? War is about killing and breaking things. Teaching and hardening some people to do that can also have other results when they come home. Consequences.

This goes beyond war to other more obviously humanitarian actions on a global scale. The Gates Foundation is putting a lot of money into inoculating children in Africa. They want the US to put money into that also. So happily the children grow up, you know the ones who would not have. We take the unexpected, death by disease out of the picture, but does this happen in a land without jobs, without physical resources?? How will they live? Will the foundation be there for them then? (This applies to the right wingers who don’t want any abortion but also don’t want any programs to help the children after they are born.) Consequences.

In the case of Libya, to evaluate even full possible consequences would require looking not just at our history with them, yes, we do have one, but also to what has happened other places with such 'peacekeeping' interventions-- or not.

Many use the example of Bosnia and justify this intervention because that worked out. Well first of all after all the years of ethnic hatred there, can we really say that situation is over? It might be peaceful for now, while peace keepers are in place, but it's a long life and nothing like that is for sure over.

It didn't require bombs being dropped in Northern Ireland but a negotiated peace. Maybe it was because the sides were not broken into convenient bomb dropping zones, but there they resolved it as well as they could. Negotiating is what some see as having no value. It's all guns and bombs for them.

In Libya, this isn't ethnic cleansing. It's a civil war. Should other nations become involved in such, no matter how horrific it is, unless it involves them as it did England with Northern Ireland? If the outside forces take one side in a civil war, can their involvement end short of the other side losing? Then do they have to stay to ensure the results remain? What happens when the losing side also begins killing civilians with brutality?

We didn't get involved in Rwanda in 1994, and it is claimed 800,000 people were murdered in acts of genocide. No oil there though. Does there seem to be a connection to why the West does go to war over humanitarian concerns? Oil there-- we get involved. Route to oil there-- we get involved. No oil, forget about it. Friend of ours, we stay out. Guy we don't like, we go in.

If we do something and it was for a truly peacekeeping goal, it has more chance of being helpful than if we do it to secure oil or some other resource for our corporations. While we talk about how we don't occupy, the US does have some forces in friendly countries all around the world, not counting the (current estimate) 120,000 in the war zones of Afghanistan and Iraq. Arab worlds might not see that as being no occupation if it lasts in the Arab countries.

We have a very powerful, intimidating (and it is purposed to stay that way) military force. It's like the guy on the block with all the AK47s but it's not supposed to worry the neighbors. In 2008 (we have been increasing our force since then) of our 1,430,895 troops on active duty, we had U.S. armed forces stationed at more than 820 installations in at least 135 countries. There were almost 78,000 in Europe, 47,236 in East Asia and the Pacific, 3,362 in North Africa, the Near East and South Asia with 1,355 in sub-Saharan Africa and 1,941 in the Western Hemisphere not including the US. The US clearly thinks it has a global mission but what exactly does it accomplish with these forces?

When we took part with the UN action over Libya, and it was a lot ours, the Tomahawk missiles fired were so expensive ($1,000,000 each) that most nations wouldn't even think of using them. We blew off nearly a hundred from what I read. Nothing to us... other than the fact we are supposedly so bankrupt that we can't afford to fund women's birth control in our country...

Consequences, even when well intended are sometimes ill fated. Still we cannot avoid actions out of the fear of that. We have to have good intentions and accept that sometimes what starts out to be good will end up anything but. I hope Libya won't end up that way. Based on history, I am apprehensive.


Ingineer66 said...

I wrote my comments on your other blog before coming here and reading this. Must have been ESP.

That is interesting about your post on the Gates Foundation. That is why the population of Nigeria is approaching a billion. Medical science has extended the life expectancy, but the families are still having children at the same rate as when half of them died in childhood. You have to take a global approach to helping people. It is the old teach a man to fish philosophy. If we save the children then we need to make sure they will have food. And we need to change the culture from one that says the man with the most kids is the richest most powerful man around.

Infidel753 said...

after the people get tired of the puppet the West puts in place,

Is there any evidence that the West is planning to put a puppet ruler in place in Libya? Any evidence at all?

What happens when the losing side also begins killing civilians with brutality?

Is there any sign that the rebels intend to do this?

The West clearly has an interest in the end of Qaddhafi's regime. Even if the odds of a real democracy emerging from a rebel victory are no better than 50-50, facilitating that opportunity is worthwhile.

There's also the issue that a Qaddhafi victory would have caused a flood of refugees out of Libya, many of whom (not just a few thousand like now) would eventually have ended up in Europe. This is one of the reasons why France led the push for intervention, and why Italy and Spain are strongly supporting it.

Rain said...

There is no evidence either way, Infidel, which is why the consequences of doing what has been done are unknown.

If say it is true that al Qaeda fighters are with the rebels, helping to train them (recent articles said that is the case and certain would be understandable that somebody has to train them as most were just storekeepers etc. when this began), that doesn't also tell us how this will work out although the most logical conclusion is this country will become more of an extreme Muslim nation with some kind of conservative Muslim group in power. That might be even what the people want. Will that be good for the West? That's the question.

Anything that happens will likely impact Europe and us and those are the unknown factors and why consequences can't always be known.

Someone wrote that there are many potential Libyan leaders living elsewhere who might come back and win elections there. That could be good or bad. We had such a leader in the US with Iraq-- Chalabi and many in the US hoped he'd get control over Iraq until several things changed that. One his close ties to Iran. Two that he had scandals and three that when someone has left the country, for whatever reason (often dictators kill anybody strong to maintain their power), the end result is the people left behind may not see them as saviors but exploiters. There is a lot of oil wealth in Libya which could be good for the people or used ways the West won't find good at all.

Rain said...

Hopefully readers can look at this and understand it doesn't mean bin Laden but it is the reference I had seen to al Qaeda fighters in Libya

Rain said...

I don't think I need references to the times the West has put puppets in place when they have helped topple a dictator. Sometimes it works and sometimes it ends up very corrupt which is what it sounds like Afghanistan has been... That was my historical reason for saying the West could do it again, that and the articles i have seen don't seem to think there was a natural leader waiting in the wings. Had there been, they'd likely have been killed by Qaddafi had they stayed... Dictators do maintain their power that way complicating the next step. When we rather encouraged the Shah of Iran to leave under a similar revolt of the people against his brutality, it was Khomeni who returned. We all know how that worked out. Doesn't mean it would with Libya but simply that it's one of the examples of what can happen.