Failed Attempts at Neutrality

I tried to stay quiet. I even made attempts at neutrality. But I find myself enraged at the decision to “go to war” in Libya and I have to say something. I could ramble on for pages but I will spare you. I will limit it to just a few points, fully aware that there are more to be made. On both sides.

Spread the Blame

First, I don’t blame just President Obama. The media and Congress (mostly democrats) are using this as the perfect opportunity to slaughter his decision making. There are reasons for what President Obama decides to do that we aren’t privy to. That is generally a truth that applies to presidents. And it’s not as if he made the decision on his own. It is widely known that there was a split in the Administration with Hillary Clinton and Susan Rice both supporting military action.

Skewed Priorities

Point two: involving the American military is a statement not just about our government’s priorities but also the international community’s.

Andrew Sullivan of The Atlantic put it perfectly: “We have done nothing in Burma or Congo” and we “are actively supporting governments in Yemen and Bahrain that are doing almost exactly – if less noisily – what Qaddafi is doing.”

Please, don’t get me wrong. The people of Libya need international support and Gaddafi should be ousted. But at what cost? The United States is already beyond broke; countries like Congo and Sudan have seen fighting, government crack downs, and orchestrated mass rapes at the hands of government officials for years and no planes go in to rescue the civilians.

The United Nations sends troops that admit they have failed in Congo; and the only whispers we hear from the United States’ government is in support of the Sudanese split or quiet condemnation of mass rape. Well, who can’t condemn such an atrocity? So, I ask, Why Libya? What don’t we know?

President Obama referenced that Gaddafi posed a threat to national security. Again, I refer to Mr. Sullivan: “Really? More than Qaddafi’s meddling throughout Africa for years? More than the brutal repression in Iran? And even if it is destabilizing, Libya is not, according to the Obama administration itself, a ‘vital national interest.'”

False Comparisons

Also, this. Let’s not compare this “Operation Odyssey Dawn” with any operation under the Bush Administration. We aren’t, as of yet, sending in ground forces and we are being promised that this is time limited. Very time limited. We are also acting in unison with other important world forces of the U.N. Security Council, another important contrast. So before we attack Obama for voting against the war in Iraq yet authorizing the attack on Libya, let’s first at least recognize they are not the same.

So much about this disgusts me – the decision itself, the way the media has forgotten about Japan and countries like Yemen where protests are still raging and no international aid is forthcoming. I don’t have the answers and I don’t claim to know what is “right.” What I do know, is that there are plenty of other ways to channel this money, energy, time, and power. It’s as if this is a big connect the dot exercise and we are missing having half the dots.

7 thoughts on “Failed Attempts at Neutrality

  1. Couldn’t agree more….why here and not other “less strategic” countries…when are we ever going to learn that violence begets more…and, oh by the way, just alienates those we may be trying to help…

    Bring em home!!


  2. Nothing this government does in connection with the Arab world can ever be trusted given the ignoble history of Western intervention in the region and the lack of any accountability thereof.

  3. I vehemently disagree. Yes, it’s terrible that we fail to give other countries the same attention the way we do Libya with regards to human rights violations.

    But you know what? We’re still saving a lot of innocent people through our military intervention (the last time I checked that was a good thing). Our military air strikes have destroyed part of Gaddaffi’s military arsenal. A military arsenal that has already murdered innocent civilians and will continue to murder innocent civilians…but for our military intervention.

    What’s more? We’re giving the Libyan people a chance for THEM (not us) the chance to overthrow a very bad guy and we’re going to let them do it the way they want. As a result of our intervention, the rebels are still up and running and have a chance to continue to organize and fight against Gadaffi’s oppression.

    There are no U.S. military boots on the ground, and there will continue to be no military boots on the ground, except as a last resort. We don’t want to put American soldiers and marines in Libya anymore than the Libyans want us to put them there. And the fact that we have yet to do so is quite a statement that Libya’s uprising is in the Libyan people’s hands and it will remain in their hands.

    Lastly: Who knows, Libya could become a new democracy! A selfish and very realist point of view? You bet. It is very much in our interest to have a friendly democracy. But guess what, it’s also in the world’s best interest to have a friendlier democracy too!

    • Thanks for your comment! I don’t disagree with any of your points – I think this is very different from Iraq and I am beyond grateful that we aren’t deploying troops and interfering in a way the Libyan people do not want. Nick Kristof in his column today said that the Libyans are hugging the American soldiers who are on the ground in solidarity – that is incredible and historic. But it remains unforgiveable to me that so many others are left forgotten and un-aided. I understand that politics and money govern these decisions but I don’t and won’t agree with them defining the international landscape to the point where only select countries get our attention and aid. I appreciate your comment and discussion.

    • Gil Scott-Heron: The first revolution is when you change your mind about how you look at things. And see that there might be another way to look at it that you have not been shown.

      If you’re willing to do this, consider this article:

      I think noting the influence of the American media, and the collective conscious of the West in general is important. There are at least two sides to every story. The American perspective is from one of privilege, and will never be the same as the one from those who are under-privileged. The switch from a subjective view to an objective one, both biases should be accounted for in determining the accuracy of problems and their causes.

      Additionally, I believe the general historical knowledge of places outside of America, especially Africa, is insufficient. Insufficient in the sense that the social context of events is misunderstood, where the history of different groups, and their relationship to each other is not accounted for.

      I say all this because after reading what you wrote, it seemed very American-centric, rather than human-centric. It’s the same issue I see with the labeling of “terrorists.” What prevents the CIA and Blackwater (Xe) from being labeled as terrorists? As for innocent civilians, it seems inconsistent to sanction the use of the American military to save civilians when how many innocent Iraqis, Afghanis, Egyptians, Tunisians, Bahrainis, Yemenis, Pakistanis have been killed by American weapons?

      • And just for clarification, the article posted above is very pro-Qaddafi, almost to the point of blindness, however, I think it provides an important alternative perspective.

        I draw parallels between Libya and Cuba. Cuba was one of the first symbols of anti-imperialism in the Caribbean. Fidel’s reign in Cuba was not perfect, and should not be described as such, however, it’s historical significance cannot be denied. Would the change and progress sweeping through South America have occurred without the events in Cuba? I think it’s an example of how everything evolves, even ideas. I would argue that countries like Brazil, Bolivia, and Venezuela have looked to Cuba’s rule under Castro, assessed the strengths and weaknesses, and then acted in accordance with what they think would be best for their countries. To me, Libya is similar. Far from perfect, but a symbol of anti-imperialism for other African countries. Again, like with Cuba, I want to emphasize that I’m not saying Qaddafi’s reign has been perfect, and there aren’t issues with his governance, I just think there’s additional context that is worth consideration.

  4. Pingback: Weekly Wrap Up: March 27, 2011 « 4WomenWorldwide

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