Qadhafi is a madman, a dictator, and is committing genocide. He was our enemy, our friend, and now our enemy again. Sound familiar? It should. It reads like a page from the U.S.-Saddam Hussein handbook.
I shared with my radio listeners on Friday that I was torn as a liberal Democrat antiwar pacifist our role in Libya. My mother always said ‘Leslie, pick the mountain you want to die on.’ And America, this is a mountain we must be willing to die on.
We must because this is a game we put into play. When we invaded the sovereign nation of Iraq, which I opposed, it was based on a lie of WMD. Then our message to the world was that we were helping the people of Iraq obtain their freedom, their democracy. Yeah right. Well Saddam’s dead, the people have voted and it’s time for us to leave. We’re still there. And so is the oil we have tried to control. We are now viewed as occupiers, not helping on a humanitarian level. And if it was ever about the people, we would’ve invaded Iraq over 20 years before; when Saddam was our buddy. So when we put the “we’re helping the people to fight for their freedom” bug in the Middle East’s ear; the world was listening. [See editorial cartoons about the uprisings in the Middle East.]
Then it was onto Afghanistan. I favored our involvement there as I cried watching videos of women forced to wear the Burqa and being executed in stadiums once used to play soccer; simply for showing their ankles. I cried hearing of rules under the Taliban regime of children not being able to fly kites, or even laugh. We needed to liberate these people from the oppression of the Taliban; and we did, briefly in some areas of Afghanistan but many of those have come under Taliban rule once again. And it is time to leave. We lost sight of our original mission. We hunt for terrorists but Bin Laden is still alive and well and so is terrorism. And all the while the world was watching; and that bug in the Middle East’s ear was getting louder.
Egypt was listening, as were Tunisia, Bahrain, Jordan, and of course Libya. [ See photos of the uprisings in Egypt.] We did not get involved in Egypt because the people were not being slaughtered like fish in a barrel. In the Libyan capitol city of Tripoli, where Qadhafi has a stronghold; the Qadhafi supporters are very verbal with the international press while those who oppose Qadhafi’s regime remain mysteriously silent. We hear of Qadhafi loyalists and military shooting people from ambulances and of removing people from hospitals so the world cannot know an accurate count of the number injured and killed by Qadhafi. Killing those people who ‘love’ him so.
They say hindsight is 20-20, and that history repeats itself. And so it is with madmen dictators. We saw it in Tiananmen Square, we saw it in Iran. Although we helped, we waited too long to get involved in matters of genocide in Darfur, Rwanda, Bosnia, and even during the Holocaust. [See a slide show of 15 post-Cold War uprisings.]
We cannot just stand by with Libya, America. We cannot just say to the Brits, the French, or even the U.N., ‘You go; we’ll watch from the shore.’ Imposing a no fly zone isn’t enough because it doesn’t protect the people on the ground from being killed at ground level; just from the air. Our military can dismantle and interrupt communications; our military can assist with the mass exodus of Libyan refugees at the Tunisian border, which according to those there and Ambassador Rice is becoming a “humanitarian crisis.”
Bring the troops home from Iraq and Afghanistan. It will save trillions. Utilize some military to help the people of Libya. I know there are those that say our involvement in Iraq and Afghanistan was in the national interest of America. A democratic Middle East, the Arab world practicing Democracy and the people of Libya free to enjoy the liberties we take for granted; that is in America’s best interest. We just need to keep our eyes on the people; and turn away from the oil fields and hunting for terrorists. If we are focused and fast; we’ll prevail, the people of Libya will and the world will be safer for it.