3 Wars In One Decade? What Are We Doing?
For many of us Saturday proved to be a particularly interesting evening with regard to US news. In particular I’m referring to our recent engagement with Libya. Over the course of a decade we have managed to enter into conflicts first with Iraq, under dubious circumstances, and more recently with Afghanistan as our primary theater of interest, and now as of last night with Libya. For many of us script played out with an alarming regularity, when we started out on the deck of one of our carriers and watched video of a missile leaving a US ship for a foreign land. The next shot is the anti-aircraft fire which was intended to in some way display a willingness to engage in combat. This was then followed up by the embedded reporters along with the various experts and prognosticators who were there to provide us with a play-by-play. Sadly, this is a script that we’ve seen a few too many times during the past decade, as a direct result of our various military engagements throughout the globe. Even more to the point, this is not sort of thing that American citizens should be familiar viewing.
For many, myself included, we are beginning to question what is it America stands for on a global basis, and the value that we place on the lives of our soldiers. I’m having a hard time understanding the logic of this particular invasion. I’m not entirely sure why it is we are there, what our goals are for the conflict, and ultimately how we will extricate ourselves from this situation as we move from the inevitable conflict into “nation building.” I’m also not entirely sure why it is our obligation to help the Libyans. That is not intended to be callous, but rather I feel that is a fair question to ask as I’m not entirely sure I feel this the correct doctrine for our nation to embrace.
While not disputing the fact that Qaddafi is a bad man, and that the world would be a better place without him, I’m also not sure why it is that today versus any day over the past 40 years is the day for us to attack this nation. Certainly given our belief that his government was directly responsible for a number of terrorist attacks including the flight over Lockerbie Scotland and well as an attack at a disco in Germany, and we didn’t invade Libya then, why are we attacking them now? I’m all for a free and democratic Libyan, from a perspective as an American our military involvement feels very questionable. While I could understand why the French and perhaps even the British might be interested in this conflict given their pressing oil needs, as a nation we do not actually use the oil that Libya produces. Therefore, again, our own involvement is tenuous at best.
Of course even larger question that is looming for me is where does this all end?
After 9/11 it seemed abundantly clear that we as a nation would be heading into Afghanistan. What seems less clear was that eight years later, under leadership of the new president we would actually be ramping up our engagements in Afghanistan rather than winding them down. One has to wonder what exactly we were intending to accomplish during our initial time there? What seemed even less relevant to the everyday American was our invasion of Iraq. At the time we were told that the Iraqi government was in possession of weapons of mass destruction and that the health and prosperity of our nation was directly at stake. As we all learned later, this was not the case.
And so we find ourselves now as of March 19, 2011 launching Tomahawk missiles and flying stealth fighter missions into Libya. As a nation we are now engaged in three separate conflicts, all of them in the Middle East, and all of them seemingly leading to even more conflicts. At a certain point, it becomes very hard to understand what exactly our current administration is doing, and I fear we are at that point now.
While we as a nation is always prided ourselves standing for what is right and what is just, as you walk down the path to Libya, it will become very hard to justify not walking down a similar path in Bahrain, in Saudi Arabia, in Syria, and Lebanon, and that’s not to mention other places that are even more problematic such as Iran and North Korea. Unfortunately a doctrine such as such as this can also bring our troops into much of continental Africa and conceivably into places such as the former Soviet Union or even Venezuela. I think most Americans would agree that such a path is probably not a good one for our nation to take.
Unfortunately, the situation in Libya is not hypothetical but rather is real. We’ll see with the next few weeks bring but I suspect Libya will be quickly brought under control at least as far as the airspace is concerned. The bigger question is what is actually going to happen on the ground. Needless to say the outcome in Egypt was one that most Americans can feel good about as that was people lead revolution and the results were relatively bloodless. Of course as other nations in the Arab world are watching these events transpire it will be very hard for many of those nations not to take a hard line in favor of the actions of Libya versus those of the actions of Egypt. None of these nations are democracies, and many of them are ruled by monarchs or strongmen whose grip on power is based on an entirely different set of values. The results could be catastrophic.
In any event,the hope is that our leaders are in fact making the correct decisions but I have a great fear that as a nation we are devoting way too much time and energy and mind share to the making of war. I’m not entirely sure that is the correct path for our nation.Posted on Sunday, March 20th, 2011 Both comments and pings are currently closed.