Extreme Liberal's Blog

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Are You Anti-War Or Anti-Killing?

Since President Obama became president and inherited two very stupid wars…well one really stupid war (Iraq) and one pretty stupid war (Afghanistan), “critics” on the left and right immediately began to deed those wars over to President Obama. They worked their asses off to convince the media and their followers that these are now Obama’s wars and when you combine that with the GOP created meme that nothing can be blamed on the previous president, you end up with the strange world we currently find ourselves in. Whether our involvement in Libya is a “war” or not is a matter of semantics to me, a word.

On the right, it makes sense to blame it all on Obama, it’s politics man, that’s what they do. But when it comes to some critics on the left, primarily the firebaggers and the hard core pacifists, I don’t get why they don’t leave the blame where it belongs, at the foot of the Bush administration. I’ve speculated for months about the motivations of the firebaggers (Jane Hamsher and Glenn Greenwald) but it’s really difficult to pin them down, except that they seem to relish the attention they get from their grandstanding and have been trading on the “outrage of the week” with their latest fundraising drive. I’m not sure either Jane or Glenn have any moral base, they both lie and exaggerate and inflate damn near every issue they take on.

When it comes to the pacifists, which for many years I proudly claimed to be, I understand their reservations. I abhor violence and in my younger days, didn’t consider the gray areas whenever a military intervention occurred. I still feel very strongly that force isn’t ever the best option. As I get older, my views have evolved and things aren’t as black and white as I used to think. The Libyan situation is a good example of the difficulty of seeing everything as black and white. I used to have a “it’s not our problem” attitude…let these countries take care of their own problems. Part of my evolution of thought is a result of a project I worked on about 11 years ago for the Holocaust Museum of Houston. In that project, I interviewed several holocaust survivors and logged and selected clips from dozens of other survivor interviews. One of the major lessons that almost all of them wanted to share is that we must never let that happen again. We as a society must not sit back and watch as a despot murders and tortures “his” own people. I can never forget looking into “Walter’s” tear filled eyes as he said with more passion than I’ve ever seen, “we must never allow this to happen again.”

When President Obama said the following last night, it reminded me of that moment with Walter.

In the face of the world’s condemnation, Gaddafi chose to escalate his attacks, launching a military campaign against the Libyan people. Innocent people were targeted for killing. Hospitals and ambulances were attacked. Journalists were arrested, sexually assaulted, and killed. Supplies of food and fuel were choked off. The water for hundreds of thousands of people in Misratah was shut off. Cities and towns were shelled, mosques destroyed, and apartment buildings reduced to rubble. Military jets and helicopter gunships were unleashed upon people who had no means to defend themselves against assault from the air.

Confronted by this brutal repression and a looming humanitarian crisis, I ordered warships into the Mediterranean. European allies declared their willingness to commit resources to stop the killing. The Libyan opposition, and the Arab League, appealed to the world to save lives in Libya. At my direction, America led an effort with our allies at the United Nations Security Council to pass an historic Resolution that authorized a No Fly Zone to stop the regime’s attacks from the air, and further authorized all necessary measures to protect the Libyan people.

I know that the knee-jerk reaction from many is why Libya and not Syria or Bahrain or any of the other places where similar things are happening? Well for one thing, I’m not sure any of these other situations are really very similar to Libya, but for arguments sake let’s say they are. Are these people proposing that we help in all these countries. I doubt it. That thinking plays right into the “black and white’ syndrome that has infected too much of our society. The President addressed this idea as well…

In fact, much of the debate in Washington has put forward a false choice when it comes to Libya. On the one hand, some question why America should intervene at all – even in limited ways – in this distant land. They argue that there are many places in the world where innocent civilians face brutal violence at the hands of their government, and America should not be expected to police the world, particularly when we have so many pressing concerns here at home.

It is true that America cannot use our military wherever repression occurs. And given the costs and risks of intervention, we must always measure our interests against the need for action. But that cannot be an argument for never acting on behalf of what’s right. In this particular country – Libya; at this particular moment, we were faced with the prospect of violence on a horrific scale. We had a unique ability to stop that violence: an international mandate for action, a broad coalition prepared to join us, the support of Arab countries, and a plea for help from the Libyan people themselves. We also had the ability to stop Gaddafi’s forces in their tracks without putting American troops on the ground.

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different. And as President, I refused to wait for the images of slaughter and mass graves before taking action.

So I guess the struggle I had with this decision to intervene shows that things aren’t always black and white, good or bad, right or wrong. In one instance, we watch as Gaddafi murders innocent people and oppresses the citizens in his country and in the other instance, we have Libyan troops being killed. They are people too with families and aspirations. Who really knows how many of Gaddafi’s forces support what they are doing or whether they feel they would be killed if they didn’t follow orders. So given this gray situation where there is no “good” or “right” or “black and white”, I think the President did exactly what we needed to do as a country. I do hope this sets a precedent where we as a country use our power to help minimize death around the world instead of contribute to it.

I guess I would say I’m anti-killing now, instead of anti-war. If intervening in a violent situation like Libya saves more lives than not intervening, I have to go with intervening.

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March 29, 2011 - Posted by | Politics, President Barack Obama |

9 Comments »

  1. Thank you for this well-reasoned post.

    Comment by Kurt | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  2. I second that.

    Comment by Roberta in MN | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  3. Very true and well reasoned post.

    Comment by Jeff | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  4. If you believe what you state, why are you so against Iraq. Thousands of Iraq’s were being slaughtered by Saddam and we came to the rescue. You don’t seem to support the actions in Iraq so is it that a Republican president got approval from the US congress to invade.

    The US should not be the moral compass of the world. We think just because we believe one way all should. We certainly haven’t done a very good job of running the US over that last six years so why should we tell others how to run their country.

    Comment by atlanta ralph | March 29, 2011 | Reply

    • Ralph, who has the time to educate you about what happened in Iraq? I thought we went into Iraq because of all those Weapons of Mass Destruction. I wasn’t aware that there were tanks rolling into areas to slaughter people, please give me a link Ralph, I want to read about that. I’d also like to see the people of Iraq protesting and rising up to overthrow Saddam…show me that too.

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | March 29, 2011 | Reply

      • In fact, many Iraqis are still nostalgic for the “good old days” under Saddam when they had electricity in their homes/businesses most of the time, relative safety with no suicide bombers lurking around every corner, JOBS, homes…before they were flattened by Bush’s bombs, etc. Life isn’t better there, for many, in fact it has become worse. Remember Saddam was OUR man, our creation, before he wore out his usefulness to Ronald Raygun, George H.W. Bush, and the neocons.

        Comment by Grant in Texas | March 29, 2011 | Reply

  5. The case for WMD’s was weak at best because of the lack of creditable intelligence agents. If you will recall, the president before Bush made severe cuts in our agency’s.
    Ther was enough evidence to get congress to agree, something Obama didn’t even think about. He thought this was his chance to look Presidential when in fact he engaged the US in an illegal conflict.

    http://www.iraqfoundation.org/news/2003/ajan/27_saddam.html

    “Casualties from Iraq’s gulag are harder to estimate. Accounts collected by Western human rights groups from Iraqi émigrés and defectors have suggested that the number of those who have “disappeared” into the hands of the secret police, never to be heard from again, could be 200,000. As long as Mr. Hussein remains in power, figures like these will be uncheckable, but the huge toll is palpable nonetheless.”

    Comment by atlanta ralph | March 30, 2011 | Reply

    • I think you meant to say “there was enough lies to get congress to agree”…evidence?

      If the Bush administration had tried to get congress to agree to regime change, nation building and owning Iraq….do you think they would have signed off on it? NOT!

      Comment by ExtremeLiberal | March 30, 2011 | Reply

    • Of course our TROLL’s link is to The Iraq Foundation, a REICH-wing organization of mostly Iraqi expatriates (membership includes the much discredited Dr. Ahmed Chalabi) who were supported in part by neocon groups like The Lynde and Harry Bradley Foundation and their neocon ilk like David Koch. Of course REICH-wingers NEVER LIE! Dictators, whether Shah Pahlevi of Iran, Pinochet, Hitler, Stalin, and even the Royal Family commit atrocities in order to gain and remain in power.

      http://mediamattersaction.org/transparency/organization/The_Lynde_and_Harry_Bradley_Foundation/connections

      Just because Fred Burns works for the NY Times (remember Judith Miller among others) doesn’t make him a saint, IMO. Peter Brock in his book, Media Cleansing: Dirty Reporting Journalism & Tragedy in Yugoslavi charges that in Bosnia/Serbia, American journalists “were media co-belligerents, pushing relentlessly for more aggressive action, supposedly in the interests of stopping ethnic cleansing and killing, played into the hands of parties with a political agenda that assured and produced far more ethnic cleansing and killing than might have taken place without their bellicosity and war propaganda service.”

      Brock gives quite a few illustrations of Fred Burns’ violations of journalistic ethics. Burns pioneered alleging 200,000 Muslim deaths in the warfare as early as July 1993, up from his estimate in April of 140,000; and, “venturing less and less outside Sarajevo, [Burns] consistently reported the government’s inflated casualty counts during the war.” On the MacNeil-Lehrer News Hour (Jan. 10, 1994) Burns upped the ante to 300,000 killed and 900,000 wounded. (For other Burns lies, misrepresentations and suppression of evidence, see pp. 77-80, 187 of the Brock book.)

      Comment by Grant in Texas | March 30, 2011 | Reply


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