There’s a huge amount to dislike about the actions we are taking in Libya at present. It is so extraordinarily inconsistent – why are we ignoring all the other nasty dictators around the world, and all the other popular uprisings, and instead deciding to take on Gaddafi in Libya?
You might say, cynically, that it is all about the oil, but I’m not even sure that oil is a large part of this equation – it is typically a liberal cheap shot to denigrate our foreign policy as being all about oil.
Libya represents only about 1% of the world’s oil production; if oil was dictating our foreign policy, wouldn’t we be doing much more assertive things in countries with larger oil production and unstable/unfriendly governments? For example, Venezuela, or, most notably of all, Iran (almost three times more oil produced than Libya), where the popular protests against their apparently unfair rigged elections were greeted with apathy and disinterest by the western powers.
And, of course, if oil is so important to us, wouldn’t we be, ahem, drilling a bit more at home, too?
So, no, I don’t think our Libyan actions are about oil, but having said that, it isn’t clear what they are about.
Two more opening thoughts.
First, much has been made of Gaddafi waging war with his own people, and even killing them. But isn’t that his own business? If he was invading a foreign country, then possibly international treaties much empower or compel us to come to the other country’s aid, but who are we to pick and choose our favorites in a sovereign country’s internal dispute?
For that matter, if we are to now wage war against foreign governments due to them killing their own citizens (even if their own citizens have taken up arms and are fighting an armed uprising against the government of the day) then why don’t we also wage war against governments that passively kill their citizens, not with bullets, but with corruption?
What is the difference, in moral terms, between a government that kills a citizen quickly and cleanly with a bullet, and a government that allows a person to slowly starve to death, or to suffer the consequences of non-existent health care, both due to corruption and the misallocation of funds that should have been destined to help improve the lives of its citizens?
Second, much has been made of Gaddafi as being a crazed madman, and of having been a sponsor of terrorism against the west. But these things are all in the past.
Gaddafi changed his tune, and for the last five years and more, has been increasingly a friend of the west and supportive of our common causes. He renounced his nuclear plans. He was even helping us in our fight against al Qaeda.
So now we’ve decided to take out one of our allies. Hmmmm.
Let’s also look at the ‘rebels’ in Libya. Who are they? What is so very special about them that we’ve betrayed an ally so as to befriend them?
Well, we actually know almost nothing at all about these rebels. But we do know a couple of things. The first is that many of them have formerly been fighting against us in Iraq and Afghanistan. And the second thing is that they are being actively supported by al Qaeda.
Read this last paragraph again carefully, and then struggle to understand it, if you can, because I sure can’t.
Maybe Gaddafi is indeed a madman; but perhaps his madness was in renouncing his terrorist ways, in ceasing his acts against the west, and in giving up on his nuclear ambitions. Maybe his madness was in befriending the west.
It isn’t just us. Look at the French. Not all that long ago, they refused to allow our planes to overfly France when President Reagan went to bomb Libya (back when Libya truly was an enemy). And now the short little Frenchman, Sarkozy, facing an increasingly tough battle to get re-elected as President, has become the ringleader in chief, calling for action against Libya.
Just across the English Channel, the English – the same English who cozied up to Gaddafi so much that they gave him back the formerly imprisoned-for-life Pan Am bomber, took on the role of second keenest nation to do battle against Libya.
People who had formerly been cheered for persuading the Libyans to make substantial donations and financial support, eg, for educational institutions as reputable as the London School of Economics have now resigned in disgrace for the sin of accepting donations from the Gaddafi family.
How can we describe our sanity when we turn our back on a reformed bad guy, someone who is now actively befriending us, and someone we had in turn been actively welcoming back into our fold as a friendly power. Instead, we are supporting and helping equip our mutual enemies – the people we are currently fighting against in Iraq and Afghanistan?
Don’t get me wrong, Gaddafi is no saint. But that which threatens to follow him is likely to be much worse.
Please read this article which not only details the lunacy on our part, but also reports how al Qaeda are taking arms from Libya to use against us on other fronts.