Libya: We just GOT to meddle, don't we?



When I read this morning that a U.S. fighter jet had crashed in Libya, my first thought was, “Here we go again, goddamit — more young Americans being thrown into another hell hole for no good reason.” Or as Jon Stewart put it last night, “Don't we already have two wars?" and “How can we afford to bomb another country? . . . You can't simultaneously fire teachers and Tomahawk missiles."

Libya would be a different matter if we were engaged in a genuinely humanitarian intervention, but this thing is a poorly thought out charade, and there’s no sensible reason for it. Yes, Ghaddafi would have no doubt overrun the rebels, whom we then could have helped to evacuate as well as possible, and it would have been ugly. But you know what? It’s ugly as hell now. More to the point, it’s also just as ugly, 365 days of the year, in other countries run by tyrants, but that’s apparently OK since we don’t really care about them (have you seen what’s happening in Yemen and Bahrain?). Plus, how can we feel bad for them, when the press hasn’t told us to be “deeply concerned” yet?

In any case, we have no business interfering in Libya’s civil war, anymore than Libya would have had any business interfering in ours 150 years ago. As international relations author and Harvard professor Stephen M. Walt wrote yesterday at Foreign Policy’s site, “... a military attack of the sort now in progress is defensible only in the most extreme cases. Rwanda and Darfur, where we didn’t intervene, would have qualified. Libya doesn’t.”

Walt’s article is incisive, and will make both neo-conservatives and “liberal hawks” uncomfortable, but it’s serious, thought-provoking writing and certainly worth your time. One phrase from Walt’s article stuck in my mind: “But the real lesson [of the military intervention] is what it tells us about America's inability to resist the temptation to meddle ...” Amen, brother. We’ve been the de facto “cops of the world,” to quote singer Phil Ochs, since the end of World War II, to which your fed-up correspondent says, “Good God, enough, already!” More people are starting to see the economic illogic, never mind the moral arguments, of plopping our big ass down in whatever trouble-spot-of-the-month develops. This isn’t the 1950s and '60s — our economy isn’t humming along at record-breakingly pleasant rates, to put it mildly — and we simply cannot afford our empire anymore. Unless, of course, America’s “leaders” want us to become a giant version of a Third World country where the people stay poor while the military and their suppliers gorge themselves at the public trough; that’s a real possibility, too. In fact, that's unfortunately the direction we seem to be headed.

Haven't we had enough of this crap yet?
  • Haven't we had enough of this crap yet?

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