After decades of botched meddling in other nations’ domestic affairs, American foreign policy reached fever pitch during the Bush administration. More often than not, our meddling has resulted in backlash or terrible unintended consequences, from the installation of right-wing dictators in South America, to the Iranian Islamic Revolution. This doesn’t even take into account the various foolhardy wars we’ve stumbled into, from Vietnam to Iraq. So I come at foreign policy from a very cautious position. I’m not quite full-on pacifist, but I’m close.
All that said, reports out of Libya are disturbing to put it mildly – the violence against Libyan protestors is truly horrendous. For all the defections of air force officers and diplomats, there is report after report of slaughter. Qaddafi’s special forces are attacking protestors with snipers, artillery, tanks, and from the sea and air. They are dropping bombs from helicopters. Hundreds are dead, though we have no way of knowing the actual death-toll.
Aziz Poonawalla writes:
It’s rare for me to advocate something as direct as a military action – but a no-fly zone is something we must as a nation do, and do immediately, if we are to do anything to help bring about a new golden age of democracy in the Middle East. After Egypt, all Arab leaders feared their people; after Libya, the people will again fear their tyrants. All the progress will be lost, all the potential will be wasted.
This is the moment that must be seized. And only we can do it.
I don’t know. I’m conflicted. This is one of those many moments I’m glad to not have Obama’s job.
I suppose I still come down on the non-interventionist side, no matter how horrible the actions of the Qaddafi government may be. There are rumors that the military might still turn on Qaddafi – let’s hope there is truth to these. And it’s important that the Libyan people own this revolution. I don’t wish death on anyone, but this is not our fight, no matter how much we wish we could step in and do something. If there are other actions the US and international community can take to aid the protestors – including aiding defecting Libyan troops, setting up border hospitals, and keeping communications as open as possible, I think we should exploit these as much as possible.
All that being said, I don’t often write about foreign policy because there’s an element of armchair general inherent in it that I like to avoid. I don’t have the facts to say with certainty what sort of response is appropriate at this point. But I hope the killing stops soon, and that Qaddafi is brought to justice.