Wednesday, March 9, 2011

Stay out of Libya, focus on Egypt instead

It seems like such a simple thing to do – establish a no-fly zone in Libya.  It seems like such a humanitarian thing to do – help the Libyan people overthrow a mentally unstable tyrant.  It seems like a no-brainer, easy, quick, humane.  But, the more I think about it, the more I think we should avoid any military intervention in Libya. 

Why not Libya?  We don’t know who the revolutionaries are.  I remember how I favored the U.S. support of the Mujahideen in Afghanistan as they drove the evil Soviets out.  But those we supported included Osama bin Laden and the Taliban.  I haven’t noticed a lot of gratitude from them to the U.S. for all of its help in that struggle.  In addition, we have no real national interests in Libya.  Most importantly, it is so much easier to enter a war than get out of it – witness Viet Nam, Afghanistan, and Iraq.  Tar babies all.  A little no-fly zone today, and we could end up in every Arab country that revolts against greedy, brutal tyrants tomorrow in the Arab world, and there is no paucity of those.

I think we should support the Libyans with threats of war crimes, freezing Libyan assets in the U.S. and the West, arms embargoes to the government, safe harbors for the people at the Libyan borders, and any other soft power assistance we can think of.  Not war.  Let them fight their war.  It’s not our war and it is time for the world to stop waiting for the U.S. to save everybody.  We can help, but our military just muddies the waters.

What we want to accomplish is best served by putting real attention on helping the Egyptian people establish a workable democracy.  It has twenty times the population of Libya and many people claim it is the heart of the Arab world.  Helping them is in our national interest if we can help create some form of workable enough Arab democracy.