Jon raises an interesting question at the end of his most recent PI Window post, which may in fact become part of an upcoming episode of 49th Parallel- what will we now do? I just answered an appeal from a dear friend in Africa, where sentiment has now shifted from the attitude of “US stay out” to “when will you intervened?” The situation has reached critical mass in Libya where Colonel Qadhafi’s answer to the populist uprising is now to strafe his own people with their own air force.
Should we now intervene? If we do- will the Libyan people accept a US, UN or NATO military presence on their soil or will we once again, as my esteemed colleague to the north points out, end up on the “wrong” side of the fight? Will intervention simply fuel the passion of the Taliban, Al Qaeda and other radical groups?
It should also be noted that despite Jon’s contention, and he has supported it well, that US policy as early as 1952 has shaped much of the anti-US sentiment we face today, there is another player on the field.
Perhaps the most egregious error, and one that was repeated in Korea, Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan is that while our leaders rightfully pointed out that the US was not fighting the indigenous people in any of these countries, neither were we most directly fighting our named enemies. These were all proxy wars to some degree and fought to slow or stop the military, political and economic intrusions from the USSR and China.
The aircraft now strafing the Libyan people are Soviet era Migs and other Russian planes. The rifles are AKs. The bullets are manufactured in Russia.
We unintentionally armed the Taliban when we saw them as “Freedom Fighters” in their war against the Soviets.
The weapons of mass destruction so feared in Iraq were being produced from raw materials originating in Russia and sold through vendors in France and Germany. (For those who still argue that there were no WMDs in Iraq, see the pictures and videos of the graves of thousands of Kurds- who we abandoned in their fight against Hussein after instigating their attempted rebellion.)
There are layers upon layers of intrigue in this mess and despite the ease and propensity for making the United States out to be the only self-interested meddler, there seems to be few clean hands among the developed nations of the world who were all too eager to do business with despots, dictators and tyrants.
No matter what the cause, no matter what the motivation- the reality is that we do face some serious and real threats and decisions we make over the next few months will shape our relations with the Middle East for the next several generations.
We have the opportunity today to pick the right side, to abandon the effort, or once again fight on the side most diametrically opposed to our core principles and values. Which will we pick?
And remember- the elephant in the closet is that the right choice may be the most expensive and inconvenient economically. Do we have the courage and ethic to pay more for our energy resources now in hopes that we will be supporting common people in their pursuit of life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness?
Agree or disagree with this logic- but pay attention to the sentiment of the African people in response to this address by Qadahfi…