Why We Fight for Libya

by: Chris Blask

Sat Apr 02, 2011 at 04:25:30 AM EDT

A lot of arguments have been put forward against the current military intervention in Libya. While I understand the arguments of those who are sincere with their criticisms of the choices of the US President I believe that win or lose this action is the correct one to take at this time.

Our involvement in Libya is about Libya, but it also about the whole of the Arab Spring. What is at stake is the possible - just possible - attainment of every major liberal goal for millions upon millions of people. The ultimate success of the Arab Spring would do more for human rights in the world than all efforts towards that goal combined could possibly hope for.

Where is Eman al-Obeidy?

A successful Arab Spring could lead to an African Fall. The population of effectively sadistic oppressive regimes in the world could fall dramatically in a few short years. Coming decades could see vibrant cities and societies where the very idea today is seen as so absurd as to not even enter serious conversation. Continental swathes of land soaked with blood, suffering and injustice could be saved from perpetual grinding hopelessness.

If my country did not at least try do what we can to foster this fragile moment of hope I think I would consider joining the cynics who believe we have lost our value in the world.

Chris Blask :: Why We Fight for Libya
I am willing to sacrifice my part of whatever it is we are gambling with here to support not only the people of Libya but all of the people who find themselves at the door of their prison. If that means higher oil prices for a decade, and all that comes with that, so be it. If in 20 or 30 years that region of the world is as sane as Taipei and so many other other places that used to be sadistically oppressive not so long ago it will have been worth any cost. This land that I sit on now was sadistically oppressive in many ways to many people just beyond living memory (and if you want to get picky, within living memory). It has been worth the cost to make this land safe.

The financial cost of our Libyan intervention does not bother me in the least. It's like Donna or I complaining that we cannot get the kids new clothes but we still spent money on tires for the car. In the end we all juggle making sure the kids aren't naked and the car doesn't slide off the road, somehow. Should we have safer tires and better clothes for the kids? That isn't the point of household finances, you cover everything the best you can.

The Arab Spring is worth more to me than a thousand miles of pavement or any of the other things we spend money on. The recently former Libyan ambassador has said that a restored Libya would pay the tab, so while I don't really expect that, in theory the cash won't be the point at all.

Libya not Iraq or Afghanistan and our engagement has nothing directly to do with those wars. In fact, it is in all manners that matter the exact opposite. If the money is a main objection then the fact that this entire action will cost no more than a few days of Bush's Iraq should put it in some perspective.

We have invested enormous human and financial capital in one completely unnecessary war and another at least poorly executed war. These wars have had the theoretical basis of bringing a region dominated by sadistically oppressive regimes into the 21st century. A place where there are the same basic human rights that ever liberal thinker in the world today agrees are absolutely fundamental. Human rights that are worth struggling and organizing and sacrificing for.

Today, more sadistically oppressive regimes in that region have fallen spontaneously than we achieved with trillions of dollars and countless thousands of lives. Today, right now, we stand at a crux where there may - or may not - be a North Africa where human rights are respected as we would expect ours to respected in our homes. There may - or may not - be a Middle East where these same basic human rights that are the core of everything about liberal ideology are respected as we expect ours to be.

If we had invested none of our time and our energy and our money and our people trying to cause what is happening today then perhaps the argument about the resources we are investing now would have more weight, but compared to everything we have spent and lost already this is a nickle-ante bet after a long night of losing that very well might return a trillion to one.

As far as I am concerned we cannot do enough to carefully blow on that small flame that is the Arab Spring.

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moar CAPS LOCK! (2.00 / 6)
GOS response:  we fight for to stealz all the oil for make MIC and banksta masters moar happy, that in turn stealz from upper middle class white liberalz like me and my 14 high on cat nip firends here who are the heart and soulz of the progressive libertate democracy from evil corporate Ozombama!!11!!

Earth is the best vacation place for advanced clowns. --Gary Busey

I heart the sentiment (2.00 / 4)
and hope that more good will come from this in the future, but I'm not as optimistic as you. Iraq is still unsettled. The future there is not particularly bright. Every source of information seems to indicate that Afghanistan has been a waste and that the Taliban will take over once the coalition forces leave. Iran is no closer to being rid of the ayatollahs or I'madinnerjacket. Several gov'ts, such as Saudi Arabia, still have a firm grip on their countries.

I'm still hopeful that Yemen may make some positive changes. I also hope that Bahrain takes steps towards a constitutional monarchy. And, Syria may be a bit freer before all is said and done. These are all positives for the people living in those countries and for the greater world. If Gaddafi goes, then North Africa will be freer than ever in its history. That has to count for something.

This is not a recession. It's a robbery.

Optimism is relative. (2.00 / 5)
As of December 2010 there was no glaring reason to have any optimism on any of these topics. As of April 2011 there are quite a few. None of them negate the warehouse of reasons to be pessimistic, but a small strong light of hope is a world away from an uninterrupted Stygian darkness of despair.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
Yemen... (2.00 / 3)
Is a "write-off."  Syrian revolt is Iran's worst nightmare.  The exit strategy from Afghanistan is a path leading through the impact of these MENA uprisings on a recalcitrant Pakistan (stand back India and resist the temptation for the benefit of all concerned.)

[ Parent ]
Yemen is a write-off? (2.00 / 6)
I'm not so sure it is a write-off as much as a hands off. Yemen is a unique amongst the Arab States when if come to the Arab democracy movement and how the US views it and deals with it.

1) It is the poorest of the Arab states.
2) It is homebase to alQaeda AP
3) The violent crack downs have not risen to the level of Libya on either side.

And yet Yemen seems to be moving in the right direction. Yes Ali Abdullah Saleh still hangs on to power, but I think somewhat tenuously. And stories like these make me believe in the end the movement wins.


" In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. "

[ Parent ]
"Write-off"... (2.00 / 1)
"hands off," same thing.  I'm guessing we're really on the same page.  What I'm suggesting is that the Yemeni revolution isn't going to attract any punters.  Believe me, the Saudi military has detailed maps of the whole country.

[ Parent ]
Hmm seems (2.00 / 3)
my hands offs comment should have been phrased as unseen hands quietly pushing.

"The Americans have been pushing for transfer of power since the beginning" of those negotiations, the official said, but have not said so publicly because "they still were involved in the negotiations."

Those negotiations now center on a proposal for Mr. Saleh to hand over power to a provisional government led by his vice president until new elections are held. That principle "is not in dispute," the Yemeni official said, only the timing and mechanism for how he would depart.


" In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. "

[ Parent ]
At the end of the day (2.00 / 6)
they're going to change their countries themselves. If Afghans want the Taliban, there's nothing we can do about that.

It was the Egyptians and Tunisians who changed their government, just as it was us who got rid of the British an the French who overthrew their monarchy, etc.

We can give them support, like we are doing in Libya, but if they don't want it, there's nothing we can do about it

[ Parent ]
Nicholas Kristoff has an appropriate op-ed... (2.00 / 5)
Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don't have an exit plan, that he hasn't articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.

But let's back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi's closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.


After the Vietnam War, many Americans were traumatized by the very idea of using military force. As a result we were too slow to react to genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, and hundreds of thousands died as a result. Then we recovered our moxie - and unfortunately barged into Iraq. The difficulties of Iraq and Afghanistan have again made many Americans - particularly on the left - allergic to any use of military force, even to save lives in a limited operation with very few civilian casualties, like the one in Libya. http://www.nytimes.com/2011/04...  

The whole article is worth a read.

(And, as an aside as of today the US will no longer fly missions over Libya unless the NATO commander requests and receives approval.)

"When Fascism comes to America, it will come wrapped in teh stupid and waving a gun" ~ Esteev on Wonkette

It appears Obama (2.00 / 3)
is being true to is word on Libya

Via: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c...

The US military is poised to withdraw its combat jets and Tomahawk missiles from the air campaign against Libya's regime, as NATO allies take the lead in bombing Moamer Kadhafi's forces.

With NATO taking charge of the coalition effort on Thursday, US officials confirmed Friday that American fighters, ground-attack aircraft and cruise missiles would be pulled out of the operation starting this weekend.

The move follows pledges by President Barack Obama to quickly shift the lead to allies in the NATO-led coalition, with the US military playing a supporting role -- providing planes for mid-air refueling, jamming and surveillance.

" In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. "

As I mentioned elsewhere (2.00 / 1)
I have problems with this war.
 Of course I can look at humanitarian issues, and freedom(maybe) and unders6tand why we are there.
 But I'm having a more difficult time seperating the cost of our wars from the impact on our domestic situation. It seems too easy not to be concerned about the money. Across most of the country state and local goverments are making draconian cuts. Paul Ryan wants to cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years without tax hikes on the rich. Everyone is aware of the money issues we face. If this goes bad and we lose the White House the crazies will really take over.
 Add the fairness/unfairness issue of not intervening in a half dozen other places that Spiffy so aptly listed in another thread, and I find myself very much not agreeing with being there. I hope it goes well.

I hear you. (2.00 / 1)
When Bush uttered "Iraq" out loud after 9/11 my heart sank for a lot of reasons, not least of them was that we had enough to deal with already. We certainly have enough to deal with already, now, too. But of all the things on our plate this is not one that worries me greatly from a resource standpoint. A small tick in military spending with a good chance of having tremendous returns. Even economically, in the mid-to-long term there aren't many other places where that amount of money has as much potential for creating more economic opportunity.

It would be interesting to see a full breakdown of actual cost increases (how much more cost than if the same assets had been doing normal patrols and training). It seems to be a couple billion dollars all told, and while that is real money a billion also isn't what it used to be compared to the scale of financial need of broader domestic issues. Five billion would scratch the surface of our current deficit just here in California but really wouldn't change our situation a lot.

A large part of whether any of us is OK with our activity in Libya is whether we think there is a possible positive outcome. I think there very much is, so the effort is worth the cost.

John Askren - "Never get into a pissing match with a skunk."

[ Parent ]
So far (2.00 / 2)
as I understand it all Libyan intervention expenditures are coming out of the existing Dod budget. So in other word no add ons.

" In the choice between changing ones mind and proving there's no need to do so, most people get busy on the proof. "

[ Parent ]
At least we're putting that money to good use (2.00 / 2)
and it's not just sitting around waiting for a World War that never will be

[ Parent ]

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