The President gave a speech last night in which he defended his decision to authorize military force in Libya. He said a lot of things.
He said that we entered Libya for humanitarian reasons; to stop the possible slaughter of tens of thousands of innocent civilians. He said we did not undertake this action against Gadhafi alone but with a coalition of NATO partners. He said that our commitment would be limited and that we were turning the lead in the operation over to NATO on Wednesday. And he said Gadhafi must go but that removing him was not the purpose of this military action.
There were also a lot of things he didn’t say.
He did not use the term “war”. He didn’t say what would happen if in fact Gadhafi did not go. He did not explain the ultimate end game for our involvement. He did not say if our involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan and now Libya meant that we would be going into Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain or Syria. He did not spell out nor clarify our foreign policy in the region. And he did not address the cost.
The President left a number of questions unanswered. Perhaps he just doesn’t know. Perhaps he knows that we won’t like the answers.
In spite of the President’s unwillingness to address certain politically sensitive issues; here are some things that we can state with a great degree of certainty.
We ARE at war in Libya. When you use your military to attack another country’s military in an effort to subvert the wishes of that country’s leadership…you are at war. Disagree? What would we call it if another country had attacked our military installations? Does anyone remember Pearl Harbor? Ask Gadhafi’s military forces as US Cruise missiles rain down on them if they are at war.
Gadhafi must and will be eliminated. The problem is that no other country has agreed to take him so his leaving in exile is not an option. Since he has no place to go he must be killed. To leave him standing, even in some sort of neutered political position, would be victory for Gadhafi and a defeat of this President and this country. The US will not let that happen. If the rebels fail to remove him the US will.
We are using borrowed money to fight this war and every dollar we spend is a dollar we are not spending on improving the plight of our own citizens. We are choosing to protect the citizens of Libya from a brutal dictator at expense of the needy here at home. If we are as broke as our leaders say we are than there can be no other conclusion.
The United States does not have a definitive foreign policy in the Middle East. The fact is that we are doing little more than playing wack-a-mole in the region. We find ourselves supporting protests in several countries throughout the Middle East; even though these protests threaten to overthrow autocratic leaders that we have supported for decades. The only thing definitive about our policy in the region is that we will do whatever is necessary to keep Middle Eastern oil flowing to our shores.
Our involvement in the region is not “limited” as the President might suggest. We have been involved in Iraq and Afghanistan for a decade. Iraq alone has cost us of 4,000 lives and over one trillion dollars. We are now in Libya and we will be there until Gadhafi is gone and a new government is in place. Recent events in Tunisia, Yemen, Bahrain and now Syria suggest that we will find ourselves entering those conflicts as well. We are not nearing the end of our involvement in the Middle East. This is just the beginning.
The United States of America has for some reason assumed a self imposed narcissistic moral belief that we are the worlds’ policeman and as such we must involve ourselves in every conflict that exists in this world. The world is more than happy to sit back and watch as we exhaust our blood and treasure to keep them safe while our own citizens struggle. As long as we maintain this belief we will continue to find ourselves involved in lengthy conflicts that we cannot win and that we can ill afford.