19 March 2011


The Libyan engagement is the only U.S. military action I can recall that is preceded by support by not only the local people involved (the Libyan rebels), but also regionally (other Arab countries), and the international community (the U.N. Security Council). This is not a Bush Doctrine preemptive strike, nor a globally-condemned (except by a few countries) action, such as the Iraq War.

I appreciate the lessons-of-the-Vietnam-War sentiment of the U.S. not acting as the world's policeman, but the U.S.--and the world--has clear, possible gains in the success of the overthrow of the repressive Gaddafi regime. This includes the continuation of the historic movement towards democracy in the Middle East. More democratic governments in the Middle East would be a huge, historic transition toward a more peaceful world. Further, if the U.S. does not act against Gaddafi, the U.S. would be in a difficult position vis-a-vis other Middle Eastern governments, such as Yemen and Bahrain, who are at this moment cracking down hard on their democratic protest movements. Otherwise, the U.S. is in a poor position to make demands on the latter two countries.

This is not to say that there are not dangers in implementing and maintaining a no-fly zone, and its requisite elimination of Libyan missile defenses and other surface installations. However, there are no plans to inject ground forces (at least by the U.S.), as in the disastrous, war-of-choice Iraq War.

There are lots of things that bother me about warfare (indeed, I have been a 42-year ideological pacifist, and might have been the only Muhlenberg Countian (in Kentucky) during the Vietnam War era to have been an active war protester and Conscientious Objector). 

One of the dangers (as it is in every human endeavor) relates to the Law of Unintended Consequences. Implement one change, and others might be expected, but there are the unexpected and unintended consequences that result. Let's see what transpires. After all, we do live (increasingly, in truth) in an era of the Risk Society, in which actions (and non-actions) are inherently riskier in their potential  deleterious outcomes.

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