Wednesday, March 23, 2011

Thoughts on Libya

To me Libya is one of those lose/lose situations and I am not sure it had the potential to be anything else all the way along. Some blame Obama because he didn't start bombing weeks ago. Some blame him because he acted at all. Part of how one sees it is whether they see war as ever a winning situation.

How many times does war actually settle anything? Sometimes it looks like it did-- for awhile. but maybe it really just encourages quick solutions that force through the will of the strongest. Maybe it encourages a people to see violence as a better solution than negotiating. I am not one to believe no war is justified but I am one who thinks a lot of them are entered into very naively for what they can accomplish.

If we had done nothing in Libya, there would have been a massacre of those who had been encouraged to believe their revolution had a chance. But once we stepped in at all what did that require? What will it take to change the path there?

Part of the reason the right wing likes the idea (and some lefties) of fighting a war in Libya is that Qaddafi is a bad guy. But then how many wars have ever happened when the one side didn't see the other as the bad guy? Saddam was a bad guy. Was it the job of the United States to get rid of him? When we got rid of him, how did we guarantee a government we would like better? Is it one nation or even all nations' right to decide that for another sovereign nation?

If the rebels in Libya can hold their ground, they will have to have arms given to them, training offered as these are ordinary citizens there who have gotten caught up in a cause. It won't be enough to do air strikes. These men will have to be helped.

Anybody remember Afghanistan where we also armed a rebellion? The Mujaheddin were fighting the Soviets. The United States decided it was in their best interests to arm them and help their efforts. That led to the Taliban and Osama bin Laden and 9/11.

Will it be the same way with Libya? Nobody and I mean nobody knows. It might end up good. It might end up with a brutal dictator taking over from Qaddafi assuming that the West or his own people get rid of him.

Some who don't like what Obama has done don't like war at all. That's Dennis Kucinch who never believes a war is justified. Some don't like it because they are glory hounds and caught up in the mystique of war as a mystical and wondrous answer and Obama didn't do this as a United States effort alone. Some of them are relishing the excitement of a revolution in their own country.

Some feel he should have acted sooner, but I think, what he was doing was not wanting to act alone. If you think we are unpopular in the Middle East, just add us occupying Libya to that ledger and see where it gets us. The only real hope we have that this will work is that it be seen as an effort by the world-- that the world no longer accepts brutality and slaughter of civilians. Those who hate the very name UN do not want that to happen under their auspices.

Qaddafi has been trying to get along with the West. He's done a lot of placating to make it seem he's one of us. Then along came this Zeitgeist sweeping the Middle East with a desire for revolution and instant changes, a desire of a people to rid themselves of brutal dictatorships, and suddenly there was no time for change happening gradually. It was today or not at all.

Would he have left or let it go if he had had a place to go? Maybe but he clearly did not. He fights to the death or ends up like Saddam-- hung after a trial. He isn't popular anywhere in the Middle East that I know of; so he had no place to go.

No ground forces, Obama said. He is parsing words. From what I read Marines are on their way from Camp Lejeune as peacekeepers... when there is not yet any peace. That is a path to a full scale war.

We might be saying we recognize one side of Libya as now speaking for the people but that's half of the nation. The other half still support Qaddafi. That means it's a civil war and we have let ourselves become part of it within a UN effort... or if not that, then on our own. Rah rah and all that!


Ingineer66 said...

I agree that it is likely a lose/lose proposition. Unless you were one of the people in Libya that was getting bombed by Libyan war planes and now you safe to overthrow your local dictator. It is kind of like the French helping us beat back the British.

Rain said...

The problem with that comparison is we have to look at who we are helping and take into account this day and age. Maybe the rebels will form a democracy and be the example we had hoped Iraq would be for how a democratic people can operate in that region and prosper or maybe they will end up being a Taliban. I read that in Egypt now when they arrest women demonstrating they check to see if they are virgins and the Muslim Brotherhood is gaining in power. That's what might end up happening with Libya. We might end up with al Qaeda types running it. Any country and that includes us has to look at how things impact them as well as the people they might be helping... or not. About half the people in Libya aren't thrilled with our help; so how long do we in the West have to stick around to be sure the right side wins... whatever the right side is. Also remember when France helped us, it was as much at having had wars and want to get back at England as a desire to be noble...

Ingineer66 said...

Before Iraq, we had a pretty good track record of removing despots and getting allies in return. France, Germany, Philipines, Japan, Soviet Union, Panama. We thought the people would be happy to get rid of Sadam and then live happily ever after, like the above countries. The difference in Iraq was the people we were helping started shooting at us before we were done helping them. They should have took a lesson from the other places and played nice until we left and then they could have done whatever they wanted. The American public and media has a short memory.