On March 19, 112 tomahawk cruise missiles hit surface-to-air missiles in Libya, sparking yet another U.S. conflict on foreign soil. For the past few months, we’ve experienced somewhat of a revolutionary roller coaster. With uprisings in Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain and Jordan, it’s no wonder some are scratching their heads with the simple question: How did we end up in Libya?
In a speech given on March 18, President Barack Obama didn’t shed much light on the subject. Focusing mainly on America’s “responsibility as a global leader,” he assured the people intervention in Libya would be quick. What he failed to address was why we went there in the first place. There is no section in the U.S. Constitution titled “America’s Responsibility as a Global Leader.” There is, however, a section that specifically grants Congress the ability to declare war, a section that even George W. Bush got around to reading.
I personally have trouble wrapping my head around the concept of U.S. military intervention in Libya. I’ve asked time and time again, why are we there when we have so many other pressing issues at hand? None of Obama’s responses seem to add up. How will imposing a no-fly zone stop revolution from spreading to other countries? How will imposing a no-fly zone protect Libyan civilians? And please, can someone tell me how intervention in Libya will keep America safe?
If we were concerned about U.S. security, why didn’t we begin a conflict with Iran? If we wanted to promote freedom, why didn’t we intervene in Egypt, Bahrain or Jordan? If we are in Libya for humanitarian reasons — as Obama claims — why didn’t we go to Sudan? For years we’ve know about genocide in Darfur. Maybe the fact that Libya contributes more than three times the amount of oil to the world market than Yemen, Jordan and Sudan combined has something to do with it. Maybe Obama hopes to divert the nation’s attention from his failure to revive the economy. Whatever the motive, there are more than “humanitarian reasons” behind the event.
Whether the government admits it or not, we have undeniably taken sides in a civil war. Obama wants MuammarGaddafi removed from office, but he doesn’t want it done by American hands. The U.S. is dangerously close to supplying the rebel forces with funding in hopes they will overthrow Gaddafi from the African coliseum we’ve created with our no-fly zone.
Humanitarian aid is a ridiculous reason to use military force, and all too often a weak cover-up for underlying reasons. Apparently no one remembers that Bush named our invasion of Iraq “Operation Iraqi Freedom.”
We also need to be cautious of who we are supporting and ultimately handing the reins to. We have no idea who is leading this rebellion or what their political alignments are. Not to get caught up in speculation or conspiracy theories, but the simple fact is that al-Qaida is a serious political threat in that part of the world. Supporting a group of people we know nothing about could potentially lead to a lengthy regime change that could eventually turn against us. Let’s keep in mind the last regime change, in Iraq, has taken about eight years, so far.
Since the Korean War, presidents of the U.S. have been smearing the lines between military intervention and war. Both democrats and republicans have spilled their shares of blood, but neither has admitted to their mistakes. Even before the dust settled in Iraq, Obama has blurred the line further by attacking Libya without the consent of Congress.
When will the presidential seat be put into check by the Constitution? Time after time we are assured military action will be quick and that it is necessary, but these promises seem to echo almost word for word what was said by their predecessors. The idea that war is needed to bring peace has been ingrained into the minds of our generation. Let’s be honest. Justifying military action has become a mere formality.
With so many pressing issues at hand, Congressman Dennis Kucinich said it best: “The economy is falling apart. Our cities are starved. People are without healthcare. All we’re getting is war.” Recently, Obama seems to be more of a reincarnation of the ever-popular Bush than the charismatic leader we saw on the campaign trail.
We long to hear the refreshing words of Vice President Joe Biden during the elections: “I want it on the record, and I want to make it clear, if (Bush attacks Iran without congressional approval), as chairman of the foreign relations committee and former chair of the judiciary committee, I will move to impeach him.”
No one is going to be impeached, but we must put an end to this vicious cycle of military conquest. The president of the U.S. can no longer act as the judge, jury and executioner in cases of conflict in the Middle East. We have to remember the consequences associated with interventionism. To indirectly fight the expansion of the Soviet Union, we gave al-Qaida the very weapons and training it uses against us today. How do we know Libyan rebels will not follow the same path toward American hatred?
Our nation became a world power because we stayed out of international conflict until absolutely necessary. We, as a nation, need to turn back to our principles. After all, we have a country of our own to run.
—Jacob Clark is a biology and Spanish junior.
—The views expressed in this column do not necessarily reflect the opinion of The Daily Aztec.