Wednesday, March 09, 2011

For God's Sake Don't Just Do Something, Stand There!

That's not how you usually hear that expression, but sometimes it's just the right approach.

Take Libya, for instance.

As the loyalist forces of President Moammar Qadhafi Kadaffy Khadafi He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Spelled crack down brutally on military and civilian rebels, the calls for the rest of the world ... and particularly the United States ... to do something are getting louder every day. This article by Eliot Spitzer (a paragon of sound judgment and international political experience if ever there was one) is typical: "Do Something in Libya and Do It Now." Even a hardcore cut-all-spending-except-aid-to-dependent-corporations conservative gadfly like Newt Gingrich loudly castigates President Obama for not riding to the aid of the beleaguered Libyans by establishing a "no-fly zone," sending in the Marines, or both.

Where I come from, this is called stupid.

If history teaches us nothing else, it is that gratitude has a vanishingly short half-life, particularly in the Arab world. We invariably hear rhetoric about how "only the US can help" and "the US must lead the way," but I contend that US intervention in Libya is a perfect example of a lose-lose situation:

If we intervene on the side of the rebels and they win, the Arab world will be pissed off that we didn't stand aside and let the brave Arabs do the job themselves. Islamic radicals will accuse us of invading a Muslim nation and continuing the "crusade" they don't realize ended in the 13th century. Europe will look down its collective nose at us for interfering in the affairs of a sovereign nation, and China will send in a large number of its surplus personnel to make a fortune rebuilding the Libyan infrastructure.

If we don't intervene and the Libyan loyalists continue to hammer the rebels, we'll be accused of standing by to allow "genocide" (a word that has taken on a very flexible meaning since the Holocaust). Islamic radicals will accuse us of ignoring the suffering of Muslims. Europe will look down its nose at us and sneer about the decline of American leadership. China will offer reconstruction aid to He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Spelled. And we'll also be blamed for the skyrocketing cost of oil.

One of the few commentators who is calling this mess right is Ian Buruma who, in his article "Obama Gets It Right," said,

"...armchair warriors watching events unfold on their computer and television screens in Washington and New York ... want Obama to handle things more. Instead of taking a cautious approach, and letting the demonstrators in Iran, Tunisia, Egypt, Libya, Bahrain, Yemen, and other places do the shouting, they want him to talk tough, or, better yet, to send in the US Air Force and blast Qaddafi’s jet fighters and helicopter gunships out of the sky. They want Obama to tell those dictators to quit right now, or else … Or else what, exactly?"

Yes ... or else what?

It's time to let the Arab world sort out its own problems. Sometimes, the Hippocratic Oath applies to international affairs, too: First, do no harm.

Intervening in Libya will, in the long run, do far more harm than good.

If you don't believe that, look at what happened in Iraq. The rest of the world is.

Have a good day. More thoughts tomorrow.



The Mistress of the Dark said...

We should help Libya when they ask for help...

We are the world's busy body neighbor.

John A Hill said...

agreed...let the guys in the Middle East slug it out on their own.

Mike said...

It's time for the UN to assign this particular job to someone else.

allenwoodhaven said...

"He who shall not be spelled" - priceless!

I have heard that the fewer former veterans in Congress, the more likely the calls for military action with the opposite being true: the more veterans, the less likely the calls for military action.

Any guesses as to whether Newt, Elliot (and whoever) served our country in any branch of service?

Besides, there are those who will criticize Obama no matter what he does. He did too much! He did too little! I'm expecting someone on Fox News to report "I have it from reliable sources that the President used ten sheets of toilet paper today; this is a waste of taxpayer dollars!"

KathyA said...

You are absolutely right (what?? it's a surprise that we agree???). Interfering in Libya's problems is a lose/lose situation. Libya needs to realize its own destiny without US interference.

Did you know that Newt dated his HS math teacher (while in HS) and then wound up marrying her? He has since given her up for a newer model.