By Ben Parish
The military intervention in Libya has led to a number of issues which greatly worry the conservative contingent. In my opinion, unless we’re in Libya to kill Muammar al-Gaddafi and seek retribution for his involvement in the 1986 terrorist attacks on the La Belle discothèque, we shouldn’t be involved. Ensuring a terrorist is brought to justice should be the only goal.
However, in recent weeks the president has struggled to set a coherent agenda in Libya and has supplemented his incoherence with poor leadership and a lack of communication (supposedly his strongest attributes) with other branches of government and the American people. Before the president’s speech last night, the American people had little knowledge of what the United States, England and France were doing in Libya or what was the eventual goal of intervention. In addition to the incoherence of the President’s message, the U.S. continues to give up sovereignty to the United Nations while conservatives seem to have joined Obama in spewing incoherence.
The Libya narrative evolved in a number of stages. First, the goal was to protect one group of Libyans from another group of Libyan rulers. Next, the goal was to promote universal values, and finally Obama administration officials said Gaddafi must step down. Before last night, it has been difficult, if not impossible, to discern what the mission of America’s intervention was. Obama’s foreign policy is incoherent largely because he is uncomfortable wielding the power of America’s military in a way that might color American ideals as arrogant, unsolicited and imperialistic.
When it comes to foreign policy, the president needs to be clear with Congress, the American military and American people. He needs to inform the public and Congress, as there is little a president can do without the support of both. Having aids or spokesmen explain a president’s thinking is not a sufficient replacement for a statement of goals and intent by the man who actually makes the decisions.
This president, in addition to Bush (#41), Clinton and Bush (#43), has sacrificed part of American sovereignty by appealing to the United Nations for approval from the international community. We should have one goal when setting foreign policy: the interest of the United States and its allies — that’s it. Why should our society surrender its decision-making process to an institution full of knuckleheads whose chief aim is to restrain our self-interest militarily and economically?
Lastly, and of most concern to me is the lack of thoughtful, coherent critiques by conservatives and republicans alike. For the last two weeks, commentators and elected officials have been running around claiming the civil unrest in Libya, Egypt etc., are democracy movements. They’ve been claiming we need to intervene to promote, as nonconservative Republican John McCain said yesterday, “a moment of historic proportions to help bring about democracy and freedom in the Arab world,” or as the great Obama administration has said, “to promote universal values.”
I don’t believe this is a democracy movement.
If it were such a movement, by now I’d expect to see leaders advocating for a new government, a blueprint for a representative parliamentary system and documents stating the rights of citizens under their government. I’ll daringly state in some regions of the world, some people don’t want freedom and democracy. Some people have been subjected to thousands of years of abuse and torture and had it beat into their heads that it’s their mission to kill Jews and Christians. In recent generations, it’s been culturally acceptable to believe the West is the enemy to the Middle East, or to be traditional, the “Great Satan.” The continual institutionalization of such beliefs in the Middle East have an effect: indoctrination and acceptance of this perverted thought process. What about Iraq? Iraq wouldn’t be a democracy today if the U.S. hadn’t used our military to the fullest extent to institute it — a democracy that’s success and longevity are still questionable.
Hopefully the president has changed course. With any luck he will set a clear goal and support our heroes who put their lives on the line defending this nation. I pray the confused Republicans and conservatives will get their thinking straight instead of remaining in a state of advanced chaos and incoherence surrounding these “democracy movements.”