Thursday, March 24, 2011

On Libya: Part One

As a blogger, I am required to have an opinion on major world events, so here is my take on our nascent war on Libya.


I begin with the assumption that any war should accord with the interests of the United States first, the world at large second, and the nation at which we are going to war third. In other words, if the war in Libya will substantially improve the world in a way that makes our lives easier and better, then I am for it. Every successful military endeavor in our nation’s history has met this standard.


I find doctrinaire arguments unpersuasive and preening. If Obama once said that the president may not go to war without congressional authorization, his supporters might have cause for concern. Many sincerely believed that Obama would be a different breed of president. I harbor no such delusions, and neither do his conservative critics.


The consistency brigade has introduced other nonsense. A presence in Libya does not necessitate a presence in Bahrain or Darfur, for the simple reason that Libya is not Bahrain or Darfur. As the consistency argument fails to seriously consider the case for war, no further explanation is needed.


As for the notion that we aren’t in the “nation building” business, please do consider the source of that particular talking point.


As for whether this meets so-called “just war” criterion, every war we have started over the last 60 years meets this does so, insofar as our enemies have always been murderers. The crisis in Libya so easily clears this hurdle that anyone wanting to have a discussion about just war is simply obfuscating. Gaddafi is a man bent on killing his own people to preserve his own power.


More substantively, opponents have argued that the United States is broke, and therefore has no business declaring war. On it’s face, this glosses over the issue. If we were being attacked by China, nobody would really care about the deficit w/r/t war.


But let me concede that we do well to consider the costs of a war in light of the benefits. It could well be that bombing Libya is the right thing to do in a vacuum, but that our rising debt outweighs the inherent benefit of doing so.


To which, and this is the dirty little secret of the military-industrial-(congressional) complex, war is a relatively inexpensive endeavor. Simply put, the dropping of missiles necessitates the production of same. Since weapons production is a largely American endeavor, those high price tags you see affixed to this or that effort tends to return to us. By no means is this an economic solution, but the make-work component of military endeavors militates against the enormous cost.


The more compelling argument, one conservatives have reasonably put forward, is that we simply don’t know what the revolution looks like. By taking on Gaddafi, are we empowering the devil we do not know.


At minimum, this certainly impacts the cost/benefit analysis. There is no sense spending billions of dollars to prop up an Ahmadinejad when a Gaddafi will do.


But that is painting our effort with a broad brush. First of all, we do know Gaddafi, and he is a devil all right. For starters, he is responsible for murdering Americans. He also sought nuclear weaponry, and was put on a very short leash for this reason.


In other words, it’s hard to see how we could do much worse.


But Libya presents a unique dynamic. Essentially, we have revolution for Democratic change facing genocide, or something like it. At minimum, we need to send the message the slaughtering dissidents is going to make you dead when those dissidents represent hope for a more stable Middle East, which again is massively in our best interests.


With a revolution declared, we have an opportunity to plant the seeds of Democracy on the (relative) cheap. The worst-case scenario is that we tell the leader of oil rich nations that if they don’t play ball, we’ll kill them. This just assertion of power sends a message on its own, one that will certainly be heard in Bahrain.


So do I support war in Libya? Yes.


Do I support THIS war in Libya? Not necessarily, as I’ll explain tomorrow.

2 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I would not expect anything less of you, Kevin. If there is a bloody, violent "solution" you are right on board. Kudos for being consistently malevolent. Feel free to block this. The important point is that you read it.

5:13 AM  
Blogger Kevin Sawyer said...

No. I think it's important that everyone read it.

9:36 AM  

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