Decisions that change the world.
A few weeks ago, I was out at the supermarket, thinking of Libya. The rebel’s revolution was only a few weeks old, things were developing, we were waiting and watching to see what Qaddafi would do. From listening to the news reports, I could see this was not going to play out like Egypt. Qadaffi was not going down without a fight, without rivers of blood. More likely, he was going to use every last resource he had amassed over the past 30 years of his tyranny, to wipe out the rebels and continue his reign. And from reading the news reports, it didn’t sound like the rebel army was very organized, had sufficient weaponry or strong leadership.
Yes, it really didn’t seem the rebels had a chance against Qadaffi and Libya’s full military force. I remember thinking of the audacity and courage those rebels had- to think they could overthrow such a power. Who were they kidding? But they were inspired, they were fighting for their lives, their humanity, for their families…. Egypt had done it.
But the rebels needed some help. They called upon the international community: Please help us! We can’t do this without some outside help! We’re trying, and we’re in this for good- we’ve proven that, but how can we go against a 30 year military reign?
And so this is where decisions come into play for our President and country. I wondered what the president would do?
Should he help Libya at all? In America’s early years, our international policy was that of isolationism. We focused on our country and let the world alone, for good or bad. Many politicians continually state that America can’t be the world’s police force. We look at Iraq and see the tremendous cost of lives and wealth that has gone into trying to bring democracy to that country.
Do we have appropriate reason to attack Qadaffi? Libya is not a direct national security threat. Is it in the interests of the US to get involved? We need a strong reason, a clear goal as to why we would become involved and what we aim to accomplish. Is the rebel cause enough reason for us to take action?
Why Libya? There are many dictators out there, performing horrific atrocities upon their people. Many leaders with total control and profound corruption. Many innocent people being killed. Many other nations crying out to be helped. So why Libya? How do we determine who we help, we certainly can’t help everyone…
Do we have the money to help Libya at this time? Our economy is faltering, our debt is crippling, we are already involved in Afghanistan and Iraq- can we really afford to get involved in Libya?
HOW should we help Libya? Regime change? Many think we should attack acutely, get ahold of Qaddafi and oust him, then pull out. Looking back at Kuwait and the senior President Bush, he let Sodamn Insane stay in power. Many believe that was the biggest mistake of his presidency, but at the time, Bush thought it would be better as he didn’t have international support and taking Hussein out would have cost more resources and lives. However, as history has played out, our country has lost 100 fold more lives and untold monies because Hussein remained in power.
Should we stand back militarily and restrict our actions to non-military means, like freezing assets, political pressure and cutting off trade? This kind of pen vs. sword action is something I would generally prefer, but is that the right action for such a time-sensitive crisis that is the case with the rebellion in Libya?
If we do nothing, what will happen? Surely Qadaffi will slaughter hundreds of thousands of people in retaliation. Is it right for America to stand by and do nothing? Clinton intervened in Bosnia- that seemed to turn out right, though if he had acted earlier……
Are we in accord with the international community? What kind of role should we take? Is it better to be the strongarm, frontman and call the shots, or to step back and let the national community make some commitment and carry some of the burden.
If we help in the ousting of Qadaffi, what will the Arab world think? How can we get them onboard? What are their feelings towards the situation. There are other countries in the Middle East with fledgling revolts- does this set a precedent to help these revolutions as well? Is it good to overthrow these rulers who claim they tamp down Muslim extremism? Will the Middle East be carried away by the Muslim Brotherhood?
WHAT SHOULD WE DO? WHAT IS THE RIGHT COURSE?
Certainly, it seems to be easier to just do nothing. That would leave us a reactionary nation. We only become involved if there is a direct attack on the US. A more black and white approach. Easier, simpler. Personally, I don’t like this philosophy. In life, I’ve always admired people who anticipate, plan, intervene, improve, modify, etc. I think it a higher form of intelligence..
All these questions , I mulled over as I was getting strawberries and sharp cheddar cheese at the grocery store. I wondered what Obama would do- there were different paths he could take with no clear outcome. These choices that must be made.
I loaded my bags in the car, turned on the radio, and heard Obama speaking. He was addressing the nation on the Libyan uprising. It was strange- as if he had known I was wondering and here he was giving me an answer. I was pretty excited to hear what decisions he had made and if his speech would be well thought out, covering his decision process, explaining why he chose that course of action. I know Obama is a man gifted with expression and patience, but so often Political addresses are flat and empty, coated over with layers of gloss.
And so I listened.
Here is his speech. You can read it or listen to it. It’s about 25 minutes- definitely worth the time.
I was impressed. I was relieved. I felt the process to be right. He explained himself- everything he said was weighty and to the point, explanatory. He wanted the Amerian people to know why and how he and his advisors got there. It was what I expect to hear and see from a President: clear logic, encompassing decision making, historical relevance, morally driven.
I don’t know if he made the right decision. But I believe in his decision. It makes sense, just the way he laid it out, especially as I had prethought about the issues surrounding what could be done. I felt it a speech and action worthy of a president of The United States.
I don’t think we can ever fully know if decisions were absolutely right- but I expect to understand why those decisions were made and to feel satisfied that it seemed to be the very best decision with the information available and foremost and always most important: that it keep with the high moral beliefs of freedom, compassion, hardwork and honesty.
There’s more I’d like to say, specifically about the situation in Libya- but I’ll leave that for a dinner conversation with you another night. (don’t forget to bring your copy of his speech)