|War in Libya|
What a mess! The situation in Libya, spawned from the so-called "Jasmine Revolution" erupting throughout the Arab world, has turned into a dangerous quagmire.
Synopsis of developments
Prospects seemed bright, at first. Libyan rebels, no doubt encouraged by the success of their neighbors in Egypt, arose in revolt against Muammar Gaddafhi and his regime. The rebels seized Benghazi, Libya's second-largest city relatively quickly, and high-level government officials and military commanders defected from Gaddafhi's regime to join the rebellion.
But then Gaddafhi, crafty, ruthless desert fox that he is, went to work. Using his well-armed military, an indeterminate proportion of which is foreign mercenaries from sub-Saharan Africa, he has gone about brutally crushing the rebellion. There are reports of indiscriminate shelling of civilian areas and barbaric acts of desecration. With his troops poised on the outskirts of Benghazi, Gaddafhi vowed that there would be "No mercy, no pity."
Just as he was about to drop the hammer, the United Nations, led by France, and with the supposed blessings of the Arab League, passed a resolution calling for a "No Fly Zone" over all of Libya. Within a day of the resolution, French, British, American, and other NATO air forces struck, destroying much of Gaddafhi's anti-aircraft defenses and effectively grounding Gaddafhi's air force. (At least, that's what the reports from NATO military commanders suggest. Who can know the truth of it?)
Now, it looks like both sides are digging in for an extended conflict.
Is there a moral position?
As a conscientious humanist, I'm struggling to find a moral position for this situation. It's not easy.
On the one hand, Gaddafhi has demonstrated many times in his 40+ year dictatorship, that he is not at all averse to getting innocent blood on his hands. And, to the extent that NATO or anyone else can prevent him from doing that, I'm all for it.
On the other hand, only a country bumpkin fresh off the turnip truck might imagine that NATO and the Arab League aren't motivated by their own selfish interests. France, especially, has a long history of heavy-handed interventionism in Africa and the Mediterranean, which French governments have long viewed as part of their hegemony.
President Obama, for his part, seems reluctant to involve the United States. The last thing he wants is to destroy the inroads he has made into the Muslim world. And yet, as a NATO ally, there is an obligation.
But, aren't we already involved in enough wars? And will military intervention really solve anything? If the ineptitude and corruption of the Bush administration taught us anything, it is that while US military power can dominate nearly any battlefield, it can do little or nothing to create stable, peaceful environments, let alone establish democracies.
Libya is a quagmire, pure and simple. I don't have a clue how to find a moral solution. If there is anybody out there who does, I'm listening...