Tuesday, March 15, 2011

Hesitation in Libya - The Shadow of Iraq

If the news reports are accurate then it appears Kadafi is on his way to regaining control of the country - largely due to superior firepower.  I find myself wondering if the debate over Libya wouldn't be so difficult if we had not invaded Iraq the way we did.  Would we really be so slow to help rebels fighting a longtime dictator -- rebels who expressly asked the U.S. Secretary of State for help -- if our military and goodwill weren't so stretched thin in and by Iraq?   I find myself feeling crushed at the prospect of what will happen to the rebels should Kadafi prevail, not to mention the economic and political impact of the west's clumsy handling of the Libyan crisis (waiting to condemn Kadafi, finally condemning him and then permitting the rebels to be defeated, which I would imagine leaves Kadafi in a Saddam-like relationship with the West).  If any situation called for an intervention -- especially given the West's reliance on oil as well as the need for allies in the Arab world -- this is it.But it's not that simple anymore.  Even assuming we could manage another sustained military campaign (which we likely can't) U.S./Western intervention would be viewed with much more suspicion and potential hostility as a direct result of our actions in Iraq, and to a lesser degree, Afghanistan -- that is, the fact of U.S./Western backing itself makes it difficult for a rebellion to prevail in a country such as Libya.    It's a cluster.This is just one of the legacies that the Iraq war leaves us.  In the U.S., those of us who don't have family and/or friends bravely serving in our military don't really feel the effects of the war that much.  Our taxes were cut, we were encouraged to spend, not sacrifice - and, as a nation, since the war didn't affect many of us directly, we didn't hold our representatives accountable in the manner that we should have.  We've been in Iraq for about 8 years now and yet how many of us really understand the type of endeavor this really was and is?   Our actions in Libya (or the lack thereof, more appropriately) should make obvious the impact that Iraq has had and continues to have on our ability to act. 

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