Why are we in Libya? A look into our failure to understand the Middle East.
Note: this post is kinda long…so if you just want the Cliff Notes, read the last paragraph.
This is the question that is on everyone’s mind, and rumor has it that our president will actually address the issue tonight. Of course, we started shooting missiles at Libya last week, but what’s a few days? Someone recently asserted that Obama is showing leadership in dealing with Libya. Is he? From my perspective, it certainly appears that we have been pulled into a conflict by the rest of the world — France and England primarily — even though we have absolutely no national interest in being there. Not only are we spending money we don’t have on a country that provides us nothing of value, we’re now fighting on the same side as our enemy…and no one seems to care.
The people of Libya, in a “spontaneous uprising” for “democracy,” move against their wacky dictator Q (I’m not going to try and spell his last name…since it has, at least, three different spellings). I think we can all agree that dictators are bad, at least theoretically. Interestingly, the regular people of Libya rather quickly got their hands on some pretty significant fire power. Thus, the Libyan revolution is not exactly Tiananmen Square. So, what do you get when you have two different intra-state factions taking up arms against each other? That’s right: a civil war.
Q, still wanting to remain in power, used the weapons at his disposal to put down the revolt. Unfortunately for the rebels, and civilians as well, Q has planes with missiles. So, Q starts killing his people; both rebels with guns and unarmed civilians. While the world watches in horror, our leader is filling out his NCAA brackets…both men’s and women’s?! (no, I don’t think he can multi-task).
Eventually, the rebels start to lose, and then France, and then England, call for United Nations intervention. Why do France and England care? It’s most likely because they, and the rest of Western Europe, get a lot of oil from Libya. Thus, they have a national interest in Libya.
We, however, don’t. America gets virtually no oil from Libya. As such, Barry can’t argue that we’re fighting Q for the oil (not that he ever would…oil is evil). Eventually, it becomes clear that the U.N. is going to do something after France and England demand action. So, after the U.N. security council votes to allow military action to be taken against Q, Barry jumps on board too. Of course, he does it without consulting Congress, which makes our military action in Libya significantly different than Bush’s military action in Iraq (where a majority of Congress voted in favor of such military action). I would argue that Barry’s actions appear to be more appropriately placed within the “follower” column, rather than “leader.”
What do I expect our president to say tonight? I’m guessing he’ll talk about a large coalition of countries agreeing to stop the atrocities taking place in Libya. Of course, the “large coalition” consists of about eight countries, none of whom want to take charge of the operation, thereby requiring NATO to take over…which is curious, being that the Libyan rebels we’re defending are no where near the North Atlantic. But I digress…Barry’s point about ending the atrocities will also be a bit vexing, since other countries, like Bahrain and Syria, have civilians being killed by their governments too.
Now don’t get me wrong…there are lots of Republicans who support what we’re doing in Libya too. Why? Because everyone has the same knee-jerk reaction to people crying out for democracy. Hence the reason why the western world has chosen to support the rebels in this civil war. Here’s the problem though: there’s a reason why no one in the Middle East/Northern Africa region, save Israel, has ever had a functioning democracy…it’s hard to do. A country needs several things to be a democracy, not the least of which is the implicit understanding that those in power will cede that power voluntarily through free elections. In other words, it’s not an accident that the Arab states are almost exclusively ruled by monarchs, theocrats, and petty dictators who don’t like giving up their power.
So what’s my point, you ask? Well, look at Egypt. Egypt just had a mass uprising of people seeking more freedom. Of course, like a wind-up toy, every Tom, Dick and Harry in our government supported the uprising. Democracy totally rules! A few people, including me, argued that supporting the people of Egypt over a moderate, and stable, dictator was a bad idea. We argued that the ultimate beneficiary of overthrowing the government was going to be a group like the Muslim Brotherhood, a small, but organized, radical Muslim group whose sole goal is the destruction of Israel and America. I was told by those on the right and left that I was wrong; Egypt constituted a secular uprising and the Muslim Brotherhood was too small of a group to have a significant impact on the new government. Well looky-here: I was right; and a long-time middle eastern ally is quickly becoming the exact opposite.
So, did we learn a lesson in Egypt? Obviously not. We’re now bombing Q’s forces. And who is fighting along side of us? None other than Al Qaeda! Simply put, our country is being run by a bunch of idiots. And when it comes to bringing democracy to countries that have no hope of remaining functioning democracies, it ain’t just the democrats. We’re still dealing with the government Bush set up in Iraq, and I’ll guarantee that once we pull out all of our troops, some radical group will take over there too. And what’s more frightening is that our government (or France or England’s), even after 9/11 and a myriad of other terrorist attacks, still doesn’t understand who our enemy is. It’s not the wacky dictator in Libya, it’s the group trying to throw him out.
So, let’s review: we support the overthrow of the Egyptian dictator, only to have the new government consist of, at the very least, a signficant anti-America, radical muslim group. Now, we follow France and England into Libya to help Al Qaeda, and other like-minded individuals, seize power. Oh, and we’re borrowing the money from China to do it! We’ve officially gone down the rabbit hole Alice, and there’s lots of options to play the Mad Hatter.