Monday, March 28, 2011

The Libya question...

Click here for a transcript of the President's speech.
Click here to watch the video.

In reading the speech I could not help but pay close attention to this part:

It’s true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs.  And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action.  But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right.  In this particular country -– Libya  -- at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale.  We had a unique ability to stop that violence:  an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves.  We also had the ability to stop Qaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and -– more profoundly -– our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are.  Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries.  The United States of America is different.  And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

Moreover, America has an important strategic interest in preventing Qaddafi from overrunning those who oppose him.  A massacre would have driven thousands of additional refugees across Libya’s borders, putting enormous strains on the peaceful –- yet fragile -– transitions in Egypt and Tunisia.  The democratic impulses that are dawning across the region would be eclipsed by the darkest form of dictatorship, as repressive leaders concluded that violence is the best strategy to cling to power.  The writ of the United Nations Security Council would have been shown to be little more than empty words, crippling that institution’s future credibility to uphold global peace and security.  So while I will never minimize the costs involved in military action, I am convinced that a failure to act in Libya would have carried a far greater price for America.

Now, just as there are those who have argued against intervention in Libya, there are others who have suggested that we broaden our military mission beyond the task of protecting the Libyan people, and do whatever it takes to bring down Qaddafi and usher in a new government.

Of course, there is no question that Libya -– and the world –- would be better off with Qaddafi out of power.  I, along with many other world leaders, have embraced that goal, and will actively pursue it through non-military means.  But broadening our military mission to include regime change would be a mistake.
The task that I assigned our forces -– to protect the Libyan people from immediate danger, and to establish a no-fly zone -– carries with it a U.N. mandate and international support.  It’s also what the Libyan opposition asked us to do.  If we tried to overthrow Qaddafi by force, our coalition would splinter.  We would likely have to put U.S. troops on the ground to accomplish that mission, or risk killing many civilians from the air.  The dangers faced by our men and women in uniform would be far greater.  So would the costs and our share of the responsibility for what comes next.

To be blunt, we went down that road in Iraq.  Thanks to the extraordinary sacrifices of our troops and the determination of our diplomats, we are hopeful about Iraq’s future.  But regime change there took eight years, thousands of American and Iraqi lives, and nearly a trillion dollars.  That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya.

While Libya has clearly violated UN resolutions some ask why NATO is suddenly a part of this. Well NATO is designed to fight war to defend peace while the UN is designed to avoid war in order to maintain peace. Make sense? NATO is military backed while the UN is civilian backed. According to Derek Boothby at the UN Department of Political Affairs, "The effectiveness of NATO is directly proportional to the amount of military force available for use; whereas the effectiveness of U.N. peacekeeping is inversely proportional to the amount of military force used. "

Just thought I'd include that bit to help those of us who were wondering why NATO was suddenly involved.

I think the question I have is what constitutes the necessity to intervene? How is that decision made? According to the President, we are measuring our interests against our need for action. What are our interests in Libya? If it was purely of a human rights nature, we'd be in every nation in the world dropping bombs on the oppressors. In this case, is it about oil?  I am not saying it is, rather I'm asking the question. Is this just about doing what's right? Does the United States have the right to go into any nation it chooses and assist in revolution against a tyrannical government? Is it right? Or is it wrong? When is it right? And when is it wrong? 

Our goal in this isn't a regime change but seriously how this be anything but that? We're not spending all this firepower and financing to help the rebels just to result in Qaddafi staying in power right? Regime change is endgame here. It has to be endgame otherwise this is all for naught.

What do you think?

1 comment:

  1. Joanne3/31/2011

    My concern is that we end up funding terrorist rebels. Thanks for posting!