Does anyone Know Why we’re in Libya?
There’s woe and suffering all around the world. And yet we’re not bombing all around the world. We’re bombing Libya. And the BIG question is why? Why there and not other places? Other places that have woe and suffering? Like North Korea. Sudan. Rwanda. Zimbabwe. Syria. Yemen. Iran. Sri Lanka. I mean, put a map on the wall and throw a dart. Chances are that wherever it lands there will be terrible woe and suffering. And unless that dart lands on Libya, you can bet that the U.S. is not in that country trying to stop that woe and suffering. So why? Why Libya? And not the rest of the world?
Good question. A lot of people are asking it. Is it oil? Well, let’s look at who they export to. According to Reuters, the breakdown goes like this: Italy (32%), other Europe (14%), Germany (14%), France (10%), China (10%), Spain (9%), Other (6%) and the U.S. (5%). Ours is the smallest piece of the pie. Over half goes to Europe. So I can see why Europe cares. But the U.S.? We probably spill more oil than we buy from Libya. Clearly oil isn’t a motive. Unless the plan is to screw our European allies and take their Libyan oil. Then again, it was the Europeans that dragged the U.S. into this thing. So I doubt that. Which leaves the BIG question unanswered. Why Libya?
Is it to foster good will in the Muslim world? By having a U.S.-European (i.e., a non-Muslim, or, one could say, as I’m sure they’re saying in the Middle East, Christian) coalition attack oil-rich Muslim land? You know, this sounds familiar. I think it’s been done before. It had a name. Oh, what was it? Oh yes. The Crusades. And you know why it sounds familiar? Because the people who hate us in the Middle East call everything we do there a Christian Crusade. So, no, it can’t be to foster good will. There has to be another reason. Has to be. Because nothing so far makes any sense.
Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power Advise the President
So just who advised Obama to go to war in Libya? Apparently it was the women in his administration (see What is Obama’s endgame in Libya? by David Gergen, CNN Senior Political Analyst, posted 3/20/2011 on CNN).
One irony, as a female friend put it, is that for years many of us believed that if only more women could gain power, the world would surely become more peaceful. Yet, we now see that the three people who talked Obama into using force against Libya’s Moammar Gadhafi were all women — Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power. Leading male advisers were opposed.
Interesting. The women wanted to use force. The men didn’t. That’s a switch. Like Gergen’s lady friend says, it flies in the face of everything we thought we knew about women. It was always the men that started the wars. And the women who had to deal with the suffering resulting from them. But Gergen is a guy. What are the women saying?
Passion and Emotion now Determine Foreign Policy
Well, Maureen Dowd is a woman. And she wrote a column about these Amazon Warriors, these Lady Hawks, these Valkyries, these Durgas (see Fight of the Valkyries by Maureen Dowd posted 3/22/2011 on The New York Times).
They are called the Amazon Warriors, the Lady Hawks, the Valkyries, the Durgas.
There is something positively mythological about a group of strong women swooping down to shake the president out of his delicate sensibilities and show him the way to war. And there is something positively predictable about guys in the White House pushing back against that story line for fear it makes the president look henpecked.
It is not yet clear if the Valkyries will get the credit or the blame on Libya. But everyone is fascinated with the gender flip: the reluctant men — the generals, the secretary of defense, top male White House national security advisers — outmuscled by the fierce women around President Obama urging him to man up against the crazy Qaddafi.
How odd to see the diplomats as hawks and the military as doves.
Reluctant men? I wonder why they were reluctant. Were they simply not manly? Critics often call liberal men (and Obama and his staff are liberals) less than manly. But that moniker doesn’t apply to the generals. To become a general usually requires combat experience. As a junior officer. The ones up close and personal with the actual shooting. These officers lead charges, they don’t order them. Before you can order them you have to lead them. And the brass promotes the ones who survive. It ain’t like politics. Where money and connections can make a career. So these generals aren’t liberals. They’re men. They can walk it like they talk it. So maybe the women are just strong women born with the courage, confidence and wisdom that others gain in combat.
Susan Rice, the U.N. ambassador and former Clinton administration adviser on Africa, was haunted by Rwanda. Samantha Power, a national security aide who wrote an award-winning book about genocide, was thinking of Bosnia. Gayle Smith, another senior national security aide, was an adviser to President Clinton on Africa after the Rwandan massacre. Hillary Clinton, a skeptic at first, paid attention to the other women (putting aside that tense moment during the ’08 primaries when Power called her “a monster”). She also may have had some pillow talk with Bill, whose regrets about Rwanda no doubt helped shape his recommendation for a no-fly zone over Libya.
Hell, these women aren’t Amazon Warriors. They’re just a bunch of clueless, over-emotional women giving very dangerous advice on matters they are woefully unqualified in. The use of force.
When President Obama listened to his militaristic muses, it gave armchair shrinks lots to muse about. As one wrote to me: “Cool, cerebral president chooses passion and emotion (human rights, Samantha, Hillary, Susan) over reason and strategic thinking (Bob Gates, Tom Donilon). Is it the pattern set up by his Mom and Michelle — women have the last word?”
And there it is. Passion and emotions. The female traits that will make the world a better, more peaceful place. Only here they led to war. And a very uncertain future. These women have just made the world a more unsafe place. The mission is unclear (regime change no regime change) because the mission was never rationally planned. It was just emotional reaction. And the need of a president to please the women in his life. As far as foreign policy goes, it doesn’t get any worse than this.
Bombing in the name of Humanitarianism
It’s not just their emotions that make these women dangerous advisors. They’re liberals. Which means they don’t like the military. They see it as nothing but a toy past presidents used to bully other nations with. They don’t believe in projecting force to protect vital national security interests. Or in deterrence. But they have no problem in using that military for humanitarian purposes. Of course, it’s easy for them to volunteer the military for these missions. Because they have no idea what it’s like to serve in the military (see Women and War by W. James Antle, III, posted 3/23/2011 on The American Spectator).
To me, the more interesting angle in this case is the reluctance to go to war on the part of those with some familiarity with the military, and the enthusiasm for it on the part of those who have never faced war’s consequences.
Liberals criticized George W. Bush for deploying the military in combat operations when he did not serve in combat himself. And now here are these Valkyries. Who have never served in combat, either. Advising the president to send the military on a poorly defined mission with no clear exit strategy. So they can end the suffering. And feel good about themselves. Without any idea of the consequences that may result from this action.
And who, pray tell, are these rebels we’re supporting? Democracy-loving Muslims in a theocratic Middle East? The Muslim Brotherhood? Al Qaeda? Iran-sponsored Shiites? We just don’t know. No one knows. All we do know is that all of the ‘big bads’ in the Middle East feed on chaos. And we just added a great big tsunami of chaos to the region. It would be wise to remember how Iran became the Iran it is today. Ayatollah Komeni swooped in during the chaos of their democratic uprising. And before anyone knew it he established autocratic Sharia law. Traded an oppressive dictatorship for a worse oppressive dictator ship.
We really need to be careful of what we ask for. Especially in the Muslim Middle East/North Africa. Especially when it results in less peace and stability in the region. This is bad. What’s worse is that the president of the United States is taking policy advice from these naïve pseudo-warriors. Makes one fear what’s next on the foreign policy plate.
A Sad Chapter in American Foreign Policy
Of course, while the Lady Hawks feel good about what they’ve done, the Muslim world sees Muslim civilians dying from ‘Christian’ missile-strikes on their oil-rich land. Will the Muslims love us for this? For liberating these masses from a tyrant? Well, do they love us for liberating millions of Muslims in Iraq? In Afghanistan? No. They don’t. They harbor deep suspicions. Because we’re still there. As we will no doubt be in Libya for a long time to come.
Libya was not a threat to vital U.S. security interests. After we invaded Iraq, Qaddafi behaved lest he was next on the invasion list. We had no reason to fear his brand of terrorism anymore. We do now. He’s pissed. And cornered. Who knows what money he has hidden. And what connections he has outside of Libya.
Yes, the suffering was bad. But as bad as in Sudan? Rwanda? Zimbabwe? Why Libya? And not them? Or was Libya just first? And these are the next countries the Lady Hawks will advise the president to bomb for humanitarian reasons? Let’s hope not. But after Libya, anything is possible.
This is indeed a sad chapter in American foreign policy.