But I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act. And it’s our responsibility. This is one of those times.
I’ve heard waaay too many “why we did it” addresses from the executive branch about the necessity for war or military intervention. Every President seems to get their own spin on the same theme. “Why we had to spend the money there and not here.” “Why we intervened there and not over there.”
Perhaps no presidential call to arms has had more clarity or urgency than Franklin D. Roosevelt’s declaration of war before the Congress after the bombing of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Sixty years later, a clear and urgent call for aide and assistance is declared for the former “enemy” now friend.
The president’s weekly is not in the FDR category.
[And Note: I have seen 3 different spellings of Qaddafi’s name. This post is using the White House transcript spelling.]
What’s clear is Muammar Qaddafi’s greatest fans have been the folks on his payroll, his family’s party guests, and Libyans who are fighting to keep him in power or to maintain some sense of continuity (“the devil you know” principle). Let’s say, anyone who fills their gas tank or heats their home with oil is indirectly a fan as well. Are our hands clean?
What’s not so clear is the impact of the current military actions on the region. For some reason Qaddafi has been an easy target since the Reagan years. President Ronald Reagan ordered a bombing of Tripoli in 1986. [This was after the 1985 hijacking and terrorist attacks abroad claimed by a group called the Abu Nidal Organization which split from the PLO in the 1970s – not a Libyan organization.]
The difference here is President Reagan acted alone.
If not for Qaddafi’s own public and personal eccentricities, coupled with his “otherness” (read, “Does he own a tie?”), this would be a very delicate situation considering his associations in both his region, OPEC, and “the west.” Not bad for the son of a Bedouin. Had he gotten out while he was ahead, he’d have a best selling auto-biography, or a most popular read on WikiLeaks.
Here are the last words for this post — columnist Bob Herbert’s final op-ed in Saturday’s New York Times. And perhaps I would emphasize new ideas having a stronger foothold. What does new leadership stand on when the backs of so many sink slowly into the sand?
Overwhelming imbalances in wealth and income inevitably result in enormous imbalances of political power. So the corporations and the very wealthy continue to do well. The employment crisis never gets addressed. The wars never end. And nation-building never gets a foothold here at home.
New ideas and new leadership have seldom been more urgently needed.