If Libya, Why Not … ?
Bill O’Reilly says that despite lack of clarity about process (eg, no congressional approval, no clear and present danger to the US), America’s involvement in Libya is a good thing:
On the left … Ralph Nader is calling for impeachment. Michael Moore has suggested that Obama give back the Nobel Peace Prize. Congressman Dennis Kucinich wants to cut off funding for any military action against Libya.
On the right, Pat Buchanan banged the isolationist drum: “Why is the United States, all the way across the ocean, got to go in and stop Arabs from killing Arabs? … Why are we in there?”
To prevent a massacre? I believe that’s the reason, Mr. Buchanan.
Congressman Ron Paul was equally blunt: “What are we doing? We are in this crisis, and they decide to spend all this money. It makes no sense at all.”
Here’s my question for Paul: Would you be comfortable, congressman, watching thousands of human beings being slaughtered by a terrorist dictator when you know that your country had the power to prevent it?
In fact, the no-fly zone was up and running in hours, and Gadhafi’s forces have been seriously damaged. Now the rebels have a chance to eventually overthrow the dictator, and mass murder has been avoided at least for the time being.
This is not a complicated issue. If America is indeed a noble country, it should act to save lives when it can. That doesn’t mean getting bogged down in quagmires like Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. But when quick, decisive action can defeat evil, it should be taken.
I believe in the basic nobility of America. I also believe few other nations have the motivation and power to confront evil that this country does. If it’s all about us, if all we think about is our own sacrifice, then American exceptionalism disappears.
All of that is true. The strong have a responsibility to protect the weak. No one would ever want another Rwanda.
But once you begin to take on the job of the world’s policeman, where do you stop?
If we should intervene in Libya, why not Syria, where the situation seems to be just as bad. And if Syria, why not Burma? And if Burma, why not Zimbabwe?
If we have a responsibility to protect those who cannot defend themselves, why has there been no intervention in Sudan, where there has been much greater loss of life, along with uncounted rapes and mutilations, over a much longer period of time? Why no intervention to protect Christians in Iraq, or Nigeria, or Egypt?
I am not sure O’Reilly is right about Libya. A no fly zone, so rebels are protected against air attack while they fight their own battles might be justifiable.
Fighting those battles for them, so that one brutal government can be replaced by another, is not.
That doesn’t mean we shouldn’t do anything. It does mean we need to think very seriously about what we want to achieve, the cost of achieving it in human life and in relationships with other nations, and the likelihood that our goals can be reached, before we act.
It is not just intentions that count, but outcomes.