President Obama announced on March 18, 2011, that he would deploy the
United States military in order to enforce a United Nations resolution,
there was little doubt that the intervention on behalf of the Libyan
people was not solely dedicated to their protection, even if that was
the primary justification for the mission.
the Arab world in chaos, anxieties over the future of oil production
spiked gasoline prices by 20 percent in a matter of weeks. On par with
the economy and the unemployment rate, gas prices determine elections.
Unfortunately, high gas prices do not justify military intervention.
Luckily, the potential for mass murder does.
American people already have abandoned their aversion to yet another
military endeavor, mainly because the administration and the media have
joined forces to reassure the public that Libya is not an invasion, a
war, or an occupation.
Unlike "Operation Enduring Freedom" in Afghanistan, which was an
eye-for-an-eye assault on the elusive mastermind behind Sept. 11, 2001, and unlike "Operation Iraqi Freedom," which was sold to the American
people based on false pretenses and hyped fears of mushroom clouds over
major U.S. cities and weapons of mass destruction – and an
invasion/war/occupation orchestrated by a millionaire oil company CEO
who also happened to be the vice president, no less – Libya, conversely,
has the potential to become the antidote to "Iraq Syndrome,"
an engagement that not only unifies the American public but that also
reverses the reputation of the United States as a war-mongering,
war-profiteering world police force.
Libya intervention is not only a "just" mission, it is also "just" a
mission. The president has promised both America and the international
community that no ground troops will be deployed.
Afghanistan, there was an evil terrorist roaming around the hills
laughing about his attacks on the World Trade Center. In Iraq there were
(allegedly) chemical, biological, and nuclear weapons of mass
Libya there is a dictator, Muammar al-Qaddafi, who has authorized
aerial bombings of his own cities and deployed the army to hunt down
and kill civilian rebels unsupportive of his regime. "Any Libyan" who "undermines the sovereignty of the state," who commits crimes against
the army, or who opposes his reign "will be punished by death," Qaddafi
"We will show no mercy and no pity to them," he warned.
This "mission" is a political win-win for President Obama. However involved,
however bloody, however defined by historians, the first phase of
bombing the military facilities of a dictator is sure to give Obama a
boost in the polls.
Beyond quelling fears of ever-higher gas prices, the use of military force against a world enemy has the potential to erase the image of Obama as a weak leader and an inexperienced and incapable commander in chief.
framing the engagement as a humanitarian relief effort aimed at
protecting the civilian rebels being targeted, incarcerated, and murdered
by Qaddafi's troops, the administration can win the hearts of both the
pro-military conservatives and the foreign policy isolationists on the
are easy. They love a good fight against a bad guy, and Qaddafi is
about as bad as it gets (worse, or at least on par with, Saddam
Hussein). What's the point in having the greatest military on earth –
and spending more on defense than every other developed country combined
– if you don't flex a little military muscle every now and then?
Furthermore, if we justified the dethroning of Saddam, Qaddafi, given
his latest antics, should be no question.
"Let me be clear. These terms are not negotiable.
These terms are not subject to negotiation.
If Qaddafi does not comply with the resolution,
the international community will impose consequences.
The resolution will be enforced through military action."
on the other hand, prefer that America keep to herself. But they have a
weakness for peace missions. With the support of France and Britain,
the United States – by far the most militarily equipped for the initial strikes on key air force facilities
– is leading the surge. But the intention is to turn the mission over
to NATO, which would brand the intervention not as another U.S. war but
as a unified international coalition fighting as one in order to ensure
peace and democracy in the Arab world. By promising that no U.S. ground
forces will be deployed, Obama has tried to turn the hearts of his own base. By
employing the rhetoric of past commanders in chief – the "reluctance" to
use military force, the pursuit of peace, the refusal of a dictator to
agree to the terms of resolution drafted by an international coalition –
Obama has earned a nod of approval from the entire world.
for the apolitical majority of American citizens, strong rhetoric about
the coalition, about the humanitarian crisis, and about the potential
of mass graves come second, third and fourth, respectively, to the
bottom line. If gasoline prices fall in America because of the U.S.
military's involvement in Libya, the ends will justify the means.
Obama is lucky, historians will document the "mission" in Libya through
a lens that focuses not on the political intentions or the casualties
it caused, but on the national and international support it garnered.
The broad masses of a population are more amenable to the appeal of rhetoric than to any other force.
All great movements are popular movements. They are the volcanic eruptions of human passions and emotions, stirred into activity by the ruthless Goddess of Distress or by the torch of the spoken word cast into the midst of the people.
Labels: Afghan War, Barack Obama, gas prices, Iraq War, Libya, Muammar al-Gaddafi, oil, Saddam Hussein, U.S. military