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.
Take it away, Mr. President.
Nicholas Kristof at the New York Times has a great piece about the human side of the crisis in Libya. It sheds light on why it was important for the UN to do something about it. It provides much needed context for people to understand why it was urgent that we moved when we did and it answers the question that everyone is asking – why did we go in? Maybe if the media did a little original reporting like Nicholas Kristof, they could show that instead of just running banners across the screen and asking over and over again “what is our mission, why are we going in?” Hey, idiots, isn’t that your job to find out, instead of just bringing on one of the many strategists trying to get their mugs on television and make a name for themselves. Go do some freaking reporting and maybe you will find out stuff like this. From Nicholas Kristof’s piece…an extended paste job, because it’s important…(emphasis is mine)
This may be a first for the Arab world: An American airman who bailed out over Libya was rescued from his hiding place in a sheep pen by villagers who hugged him, served him juice and thanked him effusively for bombing their country.
Even though some villagers were hit by American shrapnel, one gamely told an Associated Press reporter that he bore no grudges. Then, on Wednesday in Benghazi, the major city in eastern Libya whose streets would almost certainly be running with blood now if it weren’t for the American-led military intervention, residents held a “thank you rally.” They wanted to express gratitude to coalition forces for helping save their lives.
This is also one of the few times in history when outside forces have intervened militarily to save the lives of citizens from their government. More commonly, we wring our hands for years as victims are massacred, and then, when it is too late, earnestly declare: “Never again.”
In 2005, the United Nations approved a new doctrine called the “responsibility to protect,” nicknamed R2P, declaring that world powers have the right and obligation to intervene when a dictator devours his people. The Libyan intervention is putting teeth into that fledgling concept, and here’s one definition of progress: The world took three-and-a-half years to respond forcefully to the slaughter in Bosnia, and about three-and-a-half weeks to respond in Libya.
“Opinion was unanimous,” Michel Gabaudan, the president of Refugees International, told me on Wednesday after a visit to Libya. Mr. Gabaudan said that every Libyan he spoke to agreed that the military strikes had averted “a major humanitarian disaster.”
“Men, women and children, they are ecstatic about the role of the coalition but worried that it may not continue,” he said.
Some Congressional critics complain that President Obama should have consulted Congress more thoroughly. Fair enough. But remember that the intervention was almost too late because forces loyal to Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi were already in Benghazi. Indeed, there was a firefight on Sunday right outside the hotel in Benghazi where foreign journalists are staying. A couple of days of dutiful consultation would have resulted in a bloodbath and, perhaps, the collapse of the rebel government.
A senior White House official says that the humanitarian argument was decisive for President Obama: “The president was chilled by what would happen to the people of Benghazi and Tobruk. There were critical national security and national interest reasons to do this, but what compelled the president to act so quickly was the immediate prospect of mass atrocities against the people of Benghazi and the east. He was well aware of the risks of military action, but he also feared the costs of inaction.”
I’ve seen war up close, and I detest it. But there are things I’ve seen that are even worse — such as the systematic slaughter of civilians as the world turns a blind eye. Thank God that isn’t happening this time.
Wow, isn’t it great to have some real reporting going on instead of just “there are many questions” or “critics say this or that”…go ask the freaking questions, get some answers and then report about it you dimwits. Go read Nicholas Kristof’s whole piece, there is some that I didn’t paste. And go visit his blog, which I just added to my blogroll, and give him some mad props for being a real journalist.
Here is a screen grab from the video below, this is a peaceful celebration in Libya thanking France, the UK and the U.S.A. for caring. Stop listening to the talking heads on the television all trying to be Glenn Beck and Rush Limbaugh or the left’s version of it…Jane “Hamwallet” and Glenn “Greenwallet”. (Angry Black Lady deserves credit for Hamwallet, unless she borrowed it from someone too. :))
And here is the video of the protest, about 2 minutes long. Hat Tip to Roberta in MN for sending me over to The Only Adult In The Room to grab it.
Go Nic Robertson! Nice take down of one of Fox News’ many lies.
We are mourning the passing of a great man this morning, Warren Christopher. In all my political observations over the last 35 years, he is one of the most honorable men I’ve seen who has worked in and around our government. A real class act. He reminded me in some ways of George Schultz, who served in the Nixon administration and was Secretary of State for Ronald Reagan. They were both of an era when foreign policy was not partisan and the greatest foreign policy minds from both political parties would reach consensus and consult with whichever administration was in office, it didn’t matter which party.
When he took over as secretary of state in the Clinton administration at age 68, Warren M. Christopher said he didn’t expect to travel much. He went on to set a four-year mark for miles traveled by America’s top diplomat.
The attorney turned envoy tirelessly traveled to Bosnia and the Middle East on peace missions during his 1993-1996 tenure — including some two dozen to Syria alone in a futile effort to promote a settlement with Israel.
President Barack Obama said Saturday that he mourned the passing of a man who proved to be a “resolute pursuer of peace” and dedicated public servant.
“Warren Christopher was a skillful diplomat, a steadfast public servant, and a faithful American,” the president said in a statement.
As Christopher prepared to step down in 1996 as secretary “for someone else to pick up the baton,” he said in an interview he was pleased to have played a role in making the United States safer.
Along with his peace efforts, he told The Associated Press that his proudest accomplishments included playing a role in promoting a ban on nuclear weapons tests and extension of curbs on proliferation of weapons technology.
He will be missed.
America has long established protocols for foreign policy, not all good for sure, but partisan politics rarely came into play. That is until recently. The Bush administration broke all conventions with the Iraq war and established a new unilateral policy that has infected the brains of their brainwashed followers. I’ve heard recent criticisms of the president from the right-wingers. In their pea brains, getting the international community together to take on Gaddafi and letting France lead the effort is somehow a lack of leadership. What a crock of shit. It shows great leadership to step back and let our allies lead. It shows maturity and confidence. I guess that is why it doesn’t compute for many Republicans, they have neither.
It is quite the coincidence that we are mourning Warren Christopher, a statesmen, on the day that a multinational force, led by France…with our backing…has begun to beat back the Gaddafi regime’s brutal attacks on it’s own people.
Here is CNN’s latest update on today’s new actions in Libya by the French Airforce.
Tripoli, Libya (CNN) — French fighter jets deployed over Libya fired at a military vehicle on Saturday, the country’s first strike against Moammar Gadhafi’s military forces who earlier attacked the rebel stronghold of Benghazi.
The French Defense Ministry, which confirmed the strike, said its attack aircraft being used to take out tanks and artillery have deemed Benghazi and the surrounding area an “exclusion zone.”
The French are using surveillance aircraft and two frigates in the operation to protect the civilian population. The aircraft carrier Charles De Gaulle is soon going to be en route from Toulon.
“Our air force will oppose any aggression by Colonel Gadhafi against the population of Benghazi,” said French President Nicolas Sarkozy, speaking after an international, top-level meeting in Paris over the Libyan crisis.
“As of now, our aircraft are preventing planes from attacking the town,” he said, calling the intervention a “grave decision.”
“As of now, our aircraft are prepared to intervene against tanks, armored vehicles threatening unarmed civilians.”
I have to say again how proud I am of our president and contrary to the manufactured memes that Republicans have been repeating ad nauseam, he is doing a fantastic job handling all the domestic and international problems (and natural disasters) that have been thrown at his feet. Bravo Mr. President, bravo.