Motley Moose – Archive

Since 2008 – Progress Through Politics

Why We Fight for Libya

A lot of arguments have been put forward against the current military intervention in Libya. While I understand the arguments of those who are sincere with their criticisms of the choices of the US President I believe that win or lose this action is the correct one to take at this time.

Our involvement in Libya is about Libya, but it also about the whole of the Arab Spring. What is at stake is the possible – just possible – attainment of every major liberal goal for millions upon millions of people. The ultimate success of the Arab Spring would do more for human rights in the world than all efforts towards that goal combined could possibly hope for.

Where is Eman al-Obeidy?

A successful Arab Spring could lead to an African Fall. The population of effectively sadistic oppressive regimes in the world could fall dramatically in a few short years. Coming decades could see vibrant cities and societies where the very idea today is seen as so absurd as to not even enter serious conversation. Continental swathes of land soaked with blood, suffering and injustice could be saved from perpetual grinding hopelessness.

If my country did not at least try do what we can to foster this fragile moment of hope I think I would consider joining the cynics who believe we have lost our value in the world.

I am willing to sacrifice my part of whatever it is we are gambling with here to support not only the people of Libya but all of the people who find themselves at the door of their prison. If that means higher oil prices for a decade, and all that comes with that, so be it. If in 20 or 30 years that region of the world is as sane as Taipei and so many other other places that used to be sadistically oppressive not so long ago it will have been worth any cost. This land that I sit on now was sadistically oppressive in many ways to many people just beyond living memory (and if you want to get picky, within living memory). It has been worth the cost to make this land safe.

The financial cost of our Libyan intervention does not bother me in the least. It’s like Donna or I complaining that we cannot get the kids new clothes but we still spent money on tires for the car. In the end we all juggle making sure the kids aren’t naked and the car doesn’t slide off the road, somehow. Should we have safer tires and better clothes for the kids? That isn’t the point of household finances, you cover everything the best you can.

The Arab Spring is worth more to me than a thousand miles of pavement or any of the other things we spend money on. The recently former Libyan ambassador has said that a restored Libya would pay the tab, so while I don’t really expect that, in theory the cash won’t be the point at all.

Libya not Iraq or Afghanistan and our engagement has nothing directly to do with those wars. In fact, it is in all manners that matter the exact opposite. If the money is a main objection then the fact that this entire action will cost no more than a few days of Bush’s Iraq should put it in some perspective.

We have invested enormous human and financial capital in one completely unnecessary war and another at least poorly executed war. These wars have had the theoretical basis of bringing a region dominated by sadistically oppressive regimes into the 21st century. A place where there are the same basic human rights that ever liberal thinker in the world today agrees are absolutely fundamental. Human rights that are worth struggling and organizing and sacrificing for.

Today, more sadistically oppressive regimes in that region have fallen spontaneously than we achieved with trillions of dollars and countless thousands of lives. Today, right now, we stand at a crux where there may – or may not – be a North Africa where human rights are respected as we would expect ours to respected in our homes. There may – or may not – be a Middle East where these same basic human rights that are the core of everything about liberal ideology are respected as we expect ours to be.

If we had invested none of our time and our energy and our money and our people trying to cause what is happening today then perhaps the argument about the resources we are investing now would have more weight, but compared to everything we have spent and lost already this is a nickle-ante bet after a long night of losing that very well might return a trillion to one.

As far as I am concerned we cannot do enough to carefully blow on that small flame that is the Arab Spring.


  1. fogiv

    GOS response:  we fight for to stealz all the oil for make MIC and banksta masters moar happy, that in turn stealz from upper middle class white liberalz like me and my 14 high on cat nip firends here who are the heart and soulz of the progressive libertate democracy from evil corporate Ozombama!!11!!

  2. and hope that more good will come from this in the future, but I’m not as optimistic as you. Iraq is still unsettled. The future there is not particularly bright. Every source of information seems to indicate that Afghanistan has been a waste and that the Taliban will take over once the coalition forces leave. Iran is no closer to being rid of the ayatollahs or I’madinnerjacket. Several gov’ts, such as Saudi Arabia, still have a firm grip on their countries.

    I’m still hopeful that Yemen may make some positive changes. I also hope that Bahrain takes steps towards a constitutional monarchy. And, Syria may be a bit freer before all is said and done. These are all positives for the people living in those countries and for the greater world. If Gaddafi goes, then North Africa will be freer than ever in its history. That has to count for something.

  3. HappyinVT

    Critics from left and right are jumping all over President Obama for his Libyan intervention, arguing that we don’t have an exit plan, that he hasn’t articulated a grand strategy, that our objectives are fuzzy, that Islamists could gain strength. And those critics are all right.

    But let’s back up a moment and recognize a larger point: Mr. Obama and other world leaders did something truly extraordinary, wonderful and rare: they ordered a humanitarian intervention that saved thousands of lives and that even Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s closest aides seem to think will lead to his ouster.


    After the Vietnam War, many Americans were traumatized by the very idea of using military force. As a result we were too slow to react to genocides in Bosnia and Rwanda, and hundreds of thousands died as a result. Then we recovered our moxie – and unfortunately barged into Iraq. The difficulties of Iraq and Afghanistan have again made many Americans – particularly on the left – allergic to any use of military force, even to save lives in a limited operation with very few civilian casualties, like the one in Libya.…  

    The whole article is worth a read.

    (And, as an aside as of today the US will no longer fly missions over Libya unless the NATO commander requests and receives approval.)

  4. jsfox

    is being true to is word on Libya

    Via: http://www.talkingpointsmemo.c

    The US military is poised to withdraw its combat jets and Tomahawk missiles from the air campaign against Libya’s regime, as NATO allies take the lead in bombing Moamer Kadhafi’s forces.

    With NATO taking charge of the coalition effort on Thursday, US officials confirmed Friday that American fighters, ground-attack aircraft and cruise missiles would be pulled out of the operation starting this weekend.

    The move follows pledges by President Barack Obama to quickly shift the lead to allies in the NATO-led coalition, with the US military playing a supporting role — providing planes for mid-air refueling, jamming and surveillance.

  5. creamer

    I have problems with this war.

     Of course I can look at humanitarian issues, and freedom(maybe) and unders6tand why we are there.

     But I’m having a more difficult time seperating the cost of our wars from the impact on our domestic situation. It seems too easy not to be concerned about the money. Across most of the country state and local goverments are making draconian cuts. Paul Ryan wants to cut 4 trillion in spending over 10 years without tax hikes on the rich. Everyone is aware of the money issues we face. If this goes bad and we lose the White House the crazies will really take over.

     Add the fairness/unfairness issue of not intervening in a half dozen other places that Spiffy so aptly listed in another thread, and I find myself very much not agreeing with being there. I hope it goes well.


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