The Best of Times, The Worst of Times

In Libya today we see exhibited some of the worst of the human character: a megalomaniac gangster willing to engage in any sort of destruction and cruelty to keep power. So far we have gotten only small glimpses of what I suspect may be great horrors.

Al-Brega retaken by rebels

And we also see the finest of the human character: the absolutely staggering courage and fortitude of people standing up against it, asserting their human dignity. Today, I listened to a gripping report of how pro-Gadhafi troops attacked a rebel-held city, al-Brega, in force, and recaptured it. But they were ousted, after a very tough battle, by people from nearby towns re-invading in a flotilla of trucks. These are not soldiers. These are ordinary people, willing to face the firepower of heavy armaments. If Gadhafi is willing to do anything to hang onto power, the Libyan people are apparently willing to do almost anything to prevent it.

This is their 1776.

They need help. This war could be lost. This is a crucial moment for the entire region, and hence a crucial opportunity we should seize. Pious hot air and irrelevant sanctions do not cut it. We should help the Libyan people – now, militarily. Yes, this may be very costly for us. But I believe the cost, in the long run, will be far greater if we don’t.

In the Left’s mirror, the US military is a bunch of warmongers always itching for a fight. The truth is the opposite. Fighting is the last thing they want to do — too much trouble and effort. Don’t want to get their hands, or spiffy uniforms, dirty. Thus Defense Secretary Gates says a no-fly zone isn’t so simple, we’d have to destroy Libya’s air defenses. As John McCain comments (and he should know), the military always comes up with reasons why it can’t do things. I think destroying Libya’s air defenses surely is something our military can be expected to accomplish.We spend hundreds of billions a year on it. I’d like to see it used for a good cause now and then.

3 Responses to “The Best of Times, The Worst of Times”

  1. Lee Says:

    Absolutely, it is their 1776, their liberation from the Nazi’s, their liberation from Stalinism, etc. From reasons ranging from practical selfishness to compassionate altruism we should be there right beside them, helping them!

    But, I have to disagree with the rest. Bullets and bombs? That’s so World War II. Sure bullets and bombs have ousted the megalomaniac gangsters that were running Afghanistan, at least from much of that country. But 9-plus years later, we still have some major obstacles in front of us, and it looks like this will continue for several years more. The bullets and bombs have been more effective in Iraq, but even there, there is much to be desired, and a lot of ill will that may take decades to overcome.

    We didn’t use bullets and bombs to dethrone the iron fist known as Gorbachev, but it worked nonetheless. And there is no quagmire about it. The cruel team known as P. W. Botha and F. W. de Clerk was similarly wrested from power in South Africa. Northern Ireland finally achieved peace and democracy despite decades of real terrorism, but it wasn’t with bullets and bombs.

    In Libya, hundreds, if not thousands are dead, and it looks like the slaughter will continue with hundreds or thousands more soon to die. If we’re willing to pursue a course despite that it could lead to that many deaths, let’s do it with an approach that gives better odds. If the rebels declare a universal cease fire and hold a real election in a month, they will have what they want in short time.

    Sure, there will be some Qaddafi loyalists who are willing to shoot non-aggressive citizens who are doing nothing more violent than run an election, but I am sure that the number of such loyalists will quickly evaporate as they see that they are acting the role of pure evil against unarmed civilians. While it can be argued that Qaddafi is incorrigible, the vast majority of his power is derived from real, feeling human beings. The odds are better if we try to defeat Qaddafi by winning over his power base. If instead we try to kill off his power base, we will likely achieve some good, but, if Afghanistan is anywhere close to typical, not as much and not as quickly.

    FSR COMMENT: Thanks. I still think cutting off the head of the snake will do the trick. Where are our much-vaunted predator drones? Surely with their paymaster gone, the mercenaries will quickly vanish. And I think we will find much of the “loyalist” base to be loyalists of convenience. But, absent a neat surgical solution, I do believe we have to go in and alter the military balance — otherwise, this war can go on for a long time, and very bloodily. Humanitarianism sometimes requires shooting non-humanitarians. (Kosovo?)

  2. Lee Says:

    If the rebels can cut off the head of snake, will they stop there? Or will they hunt down the loyalists to imprison or kill them? The longer the fighting goes on, the harder it will be to forgive these enemies, who are the killers of friends and family. If the loyalists are forced into fleeing or hiding, will they then give up, or will they become the next set of terrorists? Unfortunately, both Afghanistan and Iraq are examples that superior military force and military victory don’t necessarily mean a cessation of hostilities.

    FSR COMMENT: In an imperfect world, one has imperfect choices.

  3. Bruce Ryan Says:

    hard to know what to think in this instance. Your 1776 may more likely be the north Vietnamese after our retreat. As ugly as that was, it will be nothing compared to this. Our hand will be hated no matter how it is offered.

    No, we are in for a century of discontent with this religion, sorry to say.

    FSR COMMENT: There is always discontent in the world. Discontent is what motivates people to improve things. It’s true that hatred towards America might not be rational; but in the long run I believe that attitudes are shaped by realities, and we will ultimately be judged by what we do. I believe Libya presents a splendid opportunity for America to match actions to its professed ideals. Otherwise, critics may be somewhat justified in viewing our ideals with a grain of salt.

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