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 theres 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? Its ugly as hell now. More to the point, its also just as ugly, 365 days of the year, in other countries run by tyrants, but thats apparently OK since we dont really care about them (have you seen whats happening in Yemen and Bahrain?). Plus, how can we feel bad for them, when the press hasnt told us to be deeply concerned yet?
In any case, we have no business interfering in Libyas 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 Policys site, ... a military attack of the sort now in progress is defensible only in the most extreme cases. Rwanda and Darfur, where we didnt intervene, would have qualified. Libya doesnt.
Walts article is incisive, and will make both neo-conservatives and liberal hawks uncomfortable, but its serious, thought-provoking writing and certainly worth your time. One phrase from Walts 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. Weve 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 isnt the 1950s and '60s our economy isnt humming along at record-breakingly pleasant rates, to put it mildly and we simply cannot afford our empire anymore. Unless, of course, Americas 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; thats a real possibility, too. In fact, that's unfortunately the direction we seem to be headed.