Let me jump right into the conclusion first: the “allied” (hardly an accurate affiliation since America is providing the lion’s share of the effort in terms of material and cost) air strikes against Moammar Gadhafi’s forces are ill-advised. My bad. I didn’t mean to state my position so cryptically, as if I were either running for public office or were a career politician trying to avoid being pinned to a policy position which could go either way…good or bad.
I am stating for the record that I am firmly against the American military intervention going on in Libya. And before any critics out there start popping off at the mouth about how its unlike you to be against a policy which is at essence a humanitarian endeavor, there are several practical reasons why the country needs to reconsider its direct intervention in the growing political (and now civil) unrest in the Middle East.
Libyan leader Moammar Gadhafi from earlier this month (AP photograph)
For one thing, America simply does not know the identities of all of the Libyan rebel movement’s key players. This reflects the reality that going into a political/military hotbed without knowledge of who or which organized faction(s)is/are leading the opposition against the longtime leader of the North African nation was a hastily-crafted (and executed) opportunistic foreign policy endeavor. And such an undertaking under these circumstances could be perceived as questionable decision-making at best. Who after all, jumps feet first into a fight where the combatants are someone who is a longtime enemy, and an implied opponent whose intentions are likewise implied? The last time this happened with regards to American foreign policy, we got the quagmire that was and continues to be Iraq.
Another reasonable justification as to why America should not be involved in what is essentially an internal affair of Libya is that being so gives off the more-than-valid perception—to both would-be friends and foes alike—is that America’s Middle Eastern policy is inconsistent, and biased…no matter the White House administration in authority. With regards to the current wave of popular uprisings throughout the Arab World, and up until the very moment the first million-dollar-apiece cruise missile began hitting targets on Libyan soil, America kept its interventions to the level of democratic (small “d”) rhetoric. Even when America’s regional ally Saudi Arabia—whose own popular protests helped topple longtime pro-American president Hosni Mubarak—sent its own troops into neighboring Bahrain to help quell political unrests there which threatened to unseat the unpopular Bahrainian king, very little in the way of calls for any kind of Western action was heard from within the Obama Administration. Granted the level of brutality brought to bear by (the) Arab governments under siege against their respective opponents varies, the fact of the matter is that there seems to be an unspoken line of demarcation in Middle Eastern sand with regards to suppression of protests against unpopular leaders/leadership; in one country it’s an internal affair, while in another it’s a violation of human rights. Even this morning, Syrian authorities have been shooting protesters down in the streets as reported by CNN and other news outlets, with no word of calls for action coming from Washington as of this writing.
The final reason against military intervention is simply cost. With the estimated cost of just one Tomahawk cruise missile at $100 million dollars each, one can only estimate how much money this little excursion into ill-advised geopolitical territory is costing the American taxpayer. And one would think that with the conservative political wolves (i.e., The Republican Party and their Tea Party patrons) already at the door, President Obama would be a little more discriminating about how to best spend the American taxpayer dollar, especially in light of the often-cited justification against the president's propensity to "spend wildly"as a result of his domestic policies.
Indeed, one could conceivably argue that Libya’s brutal actions against opponents of its ruling regime could have been nipped in the bud if American military intervention were consistently applied based on human rights instead of the concept of real politick, and if we were clearly stating our positions and telegraphing our intent to intervene with regards to such. It seems that America’s foreign policy, especially with regards to the Middle East reflects its domestic political policies of inconsistency and ideological cherry-picking…which results in nothing in the way of substantive change.