I am ambivalent on our going after Gaddafi – spelled Moammar Kadafi in the L. A. Times, Muammar el-Qaddafi in the N.Y. Times, Muammar Qaddafi in the Christian Science Monitor, and Gaddafi in Al Jazeera: I’ll go with Gaddafi – and that is really what we are doing. I am bouncing around like a ping-pong ball in a garbage disposal. He is a madman killing innocent people; we should intervene. This is really a war between two Libyan tribes; we shouldn’t be involved. By doing very little, we can make a big difference; we should help. We are already fighting two wars, we really don’t need to get in another one; we shouldn’t go to war. The Arab League wants us to stop the carnage: we should get involved. Now the Arab league says we are doing too much; we shouldn’t get involved. And back and forth I go.
I am not so sure that Gaddafi is a madman but he sure seems to be brutal and sure seems to be killing who ever he can who doesn’t worship him. But, in Syria, where protesters set fire to the ruling Baath Party headquarters and other government buildings, police are killing people; and in Bahrain – where our Fifth Fleets calls home port – King bin Isa Al Khalifa, who said a foreign plot against his kingdom had been foiled, got help from the Saudis in killing protesters . Should we go there also?
Aside from being able to find Libya on a map and knowing that they are on the UN Human Rights Commission – incredible in itself – I didn’t know much about Libya until a couple of weeks ago. From what I read now, Libya has a very strong tribal structure and to a great extent, this war is a Civil War between Libyan tribes. As bad as Gaddafi is, should we really be picking sides in a Civil War? We have done that in Iraq and the outcome is not looking like Jeffersonian democracy.
The theory is we can do alot of good by doing very little. Except that it never ends up being doing very little. Wars – interventions – always grow.
We are already fighting two wars and we really don’t need to get in another one. True, but this does seem to be one case where the heavy lifting is being done by somebody else. Although this will not be done on the cheap: on the first day alone, the Navy launched 110 cruise missiles and they cost about $500,000 each.
Before we did get involved – a delicate way of saying before we started killing people – the Arab League wanted us to get involved. The problem here is that the Arab League should more accurately be called the Asshole and Badguy League. Its members include Bahrain’s King bin Isa Al Khalifa, Bashar al-Assad of Syria, the Saud family, Yemen’s Ali Abdullah Saleh, Muammar Qaddafi – now suspended – and, until a few weeks ago, Tunisia’s Ben Ali and Egypt’s Mubarak. It should be no surprise to anyone that they are not flying planes or sending troops. They have not even offered to hold our coat while the west does the dirty work.
Where the arrogance of power comes in is Obama – who was so critical of the abuse of Executive power under Bush – making this very difficult decision on the fly without taking it to Congress. Even Bush went to Congress over Iraq. In the end, I realize that I get to be loftily ambivalent and Obama does not have that luxury; but I am troubled by his taking us to war by fiat. Power does corrupt.
By the way, the incredible picture at the top was shot by Goran Tomasevic.