by Kevin DeAnna
Our government has one basic job. Before anything else, the federal government has to ensure the physical security of the nation. This includes securing the borders, preventing foreign invasion, and discouraging attacks against the national territory and American citizens.
Obviously, our government doesn’t do any of this. Nor does it seem to care. And of course, it’s hard to see what any of this has to do with taking sides in Libya’s civil war.
The arguments raised in support seem remarkably unconvincing. This action seems to increase the danger to the oil supplies from Libya rather than reducing it. If Gaddafi (Kadafi?, Qaddafi?, whatever) survives, we can expect that Western oil companies will be driven out altogether. It has been argued that Gaddafi is an enemy of the United States and we should use this opportunity to destroy him solely for that reason. I’m sympathetic to the idea that Gaddafi simply has it coming. I have no problem with President Reagan’s air attack in the 1980’s to avenge attacks on Americans. If we were bombing him for that reason alone, I might even support it.
However, this isn’t the reason we are intervening. We didn’t seem to care about avenging our people over the last few years, when we essentially functioned as Gaddafi’s ally. There also seems to be a bit of “man up” type rhetoric essentially arguing that we should bomb Gaddafi because it will make us look bold, tough, and decisive. To whom? Other countries openly mock our laws, insult us to our face, and treat us like a province and we don’t seem to do anything. How is bombing Libya going to help?
And let’s not kid ourselves about humanitarian reasons. As we speak, our great ally Saudi Arabia is sending tanks and troops to Bahrain to help them murder protesters in the street.
We also don’t know enough about who these “rebels” are to justifiably say we are going to replace Gaddafi with something better. Jim Lacey writes in National Review, “There is just one question to answer: Does the United States desire the rebels or Qaddafi to win in Libya.” My answer is we don’t know.
Gaddafi, at least over the last few years, allowed Western oil companies to operate in Libya, kept out Al-Qaeda, prevented huge waves of refugees from hitting Southern Europe. Who are these “rebels?” Islamists? Secular democrats? Random tribes? Even if Gaddafi is defeated, we have no idea who is going to replace him, whether the rebels will be able to assemble a stable governing coalition, or what exactly we are dealing with. In fact, these questions seem to be completely ignored.
I submit that there are two primary rules about getting involved in civil wars in other countries.
Rule 1 – Don’t do it.
Rule 2 – If you break rule 1, pick the side that is going to win.
We can’t even say for sure that we are backing the winning horse. There is no evidence that the “rebels,” who seem to be a loose confederation at best, will have the capability to defeat Gaddafi’s forces even if his air superiority is taken away.
Some are making references to the American bombing of Serbia as a precedent for this kind of action. That is not exactly an example to follow. In Serbia, we bombed a country that posed no threat to us. We then stripped them of their most sacred territory and handed it over to a terrorist group that has spent the last few years merrily conducting ethnic cleansing. We also managed to seriously endanger our relations with countries far more important than the province of Kosovo by infuriating Russia and bombing the Chinese embassy. Nor did this action somehow repair our image in the Muslim world. In fact, we still have Kosovars themselves trying to attack us. In retrospect, the entire enterprise seems rather pointless.
What is truly amazing is how the national security apparatus is mobilizing for a “threat to our national security” in Tripoli, while ignoring the threats within our country. As our own border remains unsecured to terrorists, our visa laws are loose and unenforced, and our police are outgunned within our territory, I simply do not believe that our government is acting in good faith when it says it is looking after our security.
Whether Gaddafi remains in power or not, our government will still refuse to protect our own territory even as we bankrupt ourselves intervening all over the world. As always, ordinary Americans will pay, in both dollars and more serious coin. In fact, it seems that our own people are the one group that our government seems indifferent to.
We are about to take a leap in the dark that our country can ill afford. The potential benefits are few, the potential costs are great. However, given what is happening in our own country, it is hard not to see this as just one more stupid distraction.