Tuesday, March 29, 2011

My thoughts on Libya...

I've said again and again that a President's most unrestricted and long-lasting power is in the area of foreign policy. I've also said I like President Obama.

So... Obama is now participating in military activity in Libya.

What do I think?

A friend asked me that the day the bombing started, and I said I was VERY hesitantly approving, with a lot of caveats.

Here's a few thoughts.

A) We should not support an uprising just because it's an uprising and we're inspired by movements of the people. There are good movements of the people, and there are bad ones. Is this a violent rebel movement or an inspirational democratic change? Right after I mentioned this to my friend I heard an NPR interview with John Kerry in which they asked him about exactly who the rebels are, what they believe, etc. They pointed out that this is an unusual situation in that we really don't know much about the people we're supporting. Kerry pushed back and said we didn't know who we were supporting when we supported the groups rebelling against the USSR. True. However, we also have a history of supporting coups in the Middle East that just end up instituting new dictators. There is evidence to say that a number of these militants are Muslim militants. Is that who we want to support?

B) We have world influence and tons of power. We are responsible to use that for good, for justice, to protect people. I've heard that Bill Clinton said his greatest regret during his eight years of being President is not going into Rwanda and stopping the bloodshed. Obama's defense of our actions in Libya rely heavily on this NOT being a mission to topple a government and takeover (no one wants another Iraq right now), but an effort to stop mass murder of civilians by an evil leader. If so, that is valid.

C). My very hesitant support was bolstered by the international support of this movement. I was surprised to see that nations that resisted our actions in Iraq were voting "yes" on the no-fly zone. We have given our support after NATO agreed to the no-fly-zone. And finally (and really surprisingly), even the Arab League agreed to it. This makes it look much less like a bullying US move and more like international action to stop a slaughter.

So. I'm cautiously supporting. I REALLY hope Obama sticks to his words and we don't take in ground troops. This is a Libyan civil war. We might not like Quadaffi, but I don't know that we have the right or if it would be wise to fully support the other side either. And besides.... we can't afford it.

Oh an also, the news is all over Obama for not consulting Congress. Well... he's the President. They weren't in session, NATO needed an immediate response in order to stop what was happening THAT weekend, and legally Obama was acting within in power and right. He need to continue to explain and support his decisions to both the American people and Congress, but he wasn't legally out of line.

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