Many in the international community are pushing President Obama to authorize war against the regime of Libyan dictator, Muammar el-Qaddafi. I think to undertake a third war in the Middle East would be downright foolish. We are now bogged down with 50,000 American soldiers apparently permanently stationed in Iraq and about 100,000 troops apparently stationed for an indefinite period of time in Afghanistan.
Secretary of Defense Robert Gates recently warned that we should never again be dragged into “a big land war” in the Mideast or Africa. A war against Qaddafi and his supporters would not be such a war. But it would be war, and the fog of war and mission creep would undoubtedly expand our activities with the passage of time.
Qaddafi is admittedly no good, but can anyone tell us with certainty that his rebel opponents support democratic goals? I doubt it. Assuming we are satisfied on that issue, should the U.S. become the world’s policeman, especially when China and Russia are apparently opposed to approving such intervention at the United Nations Security Council?
According to The New York Times on March 12th:
“The Arab League asked the United Nations Security Council on Saturday to impose a no-flight zone over Libya in hopes of halting Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s attacks on his own people, providing the rebels a tincture of hope even as they were driven back from a long stretch of road and towns they had captured in the three-week war.”
What is occurring in Libya is not like Burundi or Rwanda, where nearly one million or more innocent men, women and children were slaughtered and the world stood by outraged but not intervening. It is not comparable to the Congo, where hundreds of civilians have been killed or raped, some reportedly by the very UN soldiers sent to protect them. It is not akin to Bosnia where Serbian generals were conducting a war of genocide against a Muslim population.
No, this is a civil war and the deservedly unpopular government of Qaddafi (unpopular with the U.S. and NATO) is currently winning that war with the rebels who, so far as I know, have not yet established that they are any better in their philosophy of government.
If a no-fly zone is desired, why don’t the 22 states of the Arab League provide the military force to enforce it? Why should our young men and women be put at risk?
Didn’t we not long ago enter into an arms deal with Saudi Arabia agreeing to replace its current air force – supplied by us – with a new one and with the most advanced planes costing billions of dollars? What do they do with these planes and the pilots who fly them? Isn’t the same true of the armies and air forces of Jordan, Egypt, Algeria, Morocco and others as well?
The Times reported on March 13:
“American officials also said that the Arab League would have to do more than endorse action – it would have to participate in it, too. ‘That doesn’t mean they have to fly airplanes,’ one official said, ‘but there is much they can do, from providing airfields to gas and maintenance.’”
I beg to differ. I think the members of the Arab League should fly the planes to enforce a no-fly zone against Libya, which is a member state. Why do we have to fly the planes at risk of being shot down?
When and if we were to enforce a no-fly zone and innocent Libyan civilians are injured or killed by us, will we then be excoriated as we were last weekend by President Hamid Karzai of Afghanistan at a memorial service for civilians killed by American troops? The Times reported on March 13th:
“In an emotional speech on Saturday in the eastern city of Asadabad, in Kunar Province, the Afghan president told relatives and neighbors of civilian victims that he sympathized with their plight. ‘With great honor and with great respect, and humbly rather than with arrogance, I request that NATO and America should stop these operations on our soil,’ he said. ‘This war is not on our soil. If this war is against terror, then this war is not here, terror is not here.’
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