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Archive for May, 2011

Things are worse in Libya because of us

Posted by Free to Think on May 2, 2011

Things are likely worse today in Libya because of us.

On March 18, President Obama ordered a U.S. airstrike to begin in Libya, declaring that it was America’s responsibility to stop the forces loyal to Col. Qaddafi from massacring the Libyan people during a civil uprising.

In announcing the attacks, President Obama said, “Today I authorized the armed forces of the United States to begin a limited military action in Libya in support of an international effort to protect Libyan civilians…The United States is acting with a broad coalition that is committed to enforcing United Nations Security Council Resolution 1973, which calls for the protection of the Libyan people.”

Resolution 1973 was adopted by the UN Security Council on March 17, which required the establishment of a no-fly zone, and demanded an immediate ceasefire in Libya.

Now, there is evidence that Obama grossly exaggerated the humanitarian threat. Human Rights Watch has released data revealing that Moammar Qaddafi had not been deliberately massacring civilians but rather narrowly targeting the armed rebels who were fighting against his government. The “no mercy’’ warning, of March 17, had targeted rebels only and Libya’s leader promised amnesty for those “who throw their weapons away.’’ Qaddafi had also offered the rebels an escape route and open border to Egypt to avoid a fight.

A cease-fire has now been proposed by the African Union that would effectively leave Colonel Qaddafi in control of part of the country. This proposition seems to accomplish the U.S. mission of keeping civilians safe. Asked recently whether the United States could accept this plan, at first Secretary of State Hillary Clinton had agreed, under the condition that the Libyan government would allow food, water, electricity and humanitarian assistance into cities it has cut off. Later she backpedaled, added that nothing could be resolved without “the departure of Qaddafi from power.”

So we have yet another interventionist war with military creep: it’s now clear that America is not involved in Libya to protect the innocent populace from slaughter. It’s to put a government we approve of in power.

The U.S. has rejected the African Union cease-fire proposal. But we must ask why it’s become America’s business to accept proposals about a Libyan civil war in the first place. Has Libya attacked or threatened us? No, they have not.

Now that the U.S. has openly declared its objective of ousting Qaddafi, we must realize that this is no peacekeeping mission. One must wonder if the use of American troops will now be necessary to accomplish our true objectives. Obama has continually denied the possibility of sending U.S. ground troops to Libya. But Army Gen. Carter Ham has told lawmakers that Moammar Qaddafi’s forces are making airstrikes more difficult by staging military forces and vehicles near civilian areas such as schools and mosques. Ham says the use of an international ground force, though not the “ideal circumstance,” is a possible plan to bolster rebels fighting forces loyal to the Libyan leader.

It’s quite possible that our intervention will actually prolong this civil war, creating the very humanitarian crisis we sought to prevent. Has no one taken into account that the normal reaction when one’s country is being attacked by outside forces is to defend one’s government, as imperfect as it is?

As NATO plans to step up its attacks on the Libyan government, the American ambassador to Libya says that the current estimates of the total death toll from the violence range from 10,000 to 30,000. Would things be even worse for Libyans if we hadn’t gotten involved? No one will ever know for sure.

Aside from the effect our military action has on Libyans, does our involvement in Libya make the world a safer place for America? That seems unlikely, considering:

  • We have invited hatred from Qaddafi supporters who attest that we attacked without provocation.
  • On Sunday, a NATO airstrike killed Qaddafi’s son and three young grandchildren. The strongman’s allies will be seeking revenge not on rebels, but on the West.
  • We have even provoked the ire of the rebels we’re attempting to assist, who have blamed defeats on insufficient “help” as this civil war lingers on.
  • We have known since February that Al Qaeda members are in the rebel ranks. If Qaddafi is overthrown, it’s questionable whether the future leadership in Libya will be friendly towards the West.
  • The Arab League, which had lent support to Resolution 1973, has objected to the current bombing campaign. “What is happening in Libya differs from the aim of imposing a no-fly zone, and what we want is the protection of civilians and not the bombardment of more civilians,” said Arab League Secretary General Amr Moussa.

Despite Obama’s insistence that we will have “no U.S. boots on the ground” in Libya, U.S. Marines are already deployed and waiting along the Libyan coast.

We must not allow American soldiers to die so that Obama may claim “victory” by removing Qaddafi from power. Americans need to speak out, and our representatives in Congress must halt any further U.S. involvement in Libya.

Despite Obama’s insistence that we will have “no U.S. boots on the ground” in Libya, U.S. Marines are already deployed and waiting along the Libyan coast. Will we continue to stray from our stated aim of protecting Libyan civilians and making the world safer, or will we engage and endanger American soldiers so that Obama may claim “victory” by removing Qaddafi from power?

Postscript:

I wrote this piece over the weekend, before news broke that U.S. forces had killed Osama Bin Laden in Pakistan early this morning.

I must add that another repercussion of our aggression in Libya is that it muddles other missions, such as eliminating known orchestrators of mass American murders.

 In announcing the assassination, it was interesting to note President Obama stressed that Americans “did not choose this fight” against al Qaeda, but rather, “it came to our shores.” I find this ironic to emphasize, considering we are also currently in the act “choosing” to bomb a Muslim nation that had threatened us in no way.

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