Monday, March 21, 2011

Things Fall Apart: What if Obama is correct?

Things fall apart; the centre cannot hold;
Mere anarchy is loosed upon the world,
The blood-dimmed tide is loosed, and everywhere
The ceremony of innocence is drowned...
-William Butler Yeats

The reasons to stay out of Libya are compelling: the US population is against it, no war has been declared, we are already spending trillions of dollars on other wars, Arab countries have resources and should be more involved instead of quelling pro-Democracy in their own nations, we should have helped overthrow Pakistan and Yemen. The whole escapade seems like yet another ill-advised excuse for an American president to flex some muscle while the US defense industry sells war on brown people. Can anything good ever come from war?

On Fox News yesterday, the pointed questions seemed to belie the dissonant and contradictory sentiment that while the nobody agrees with the president's actions in Libya, most commenters feel he should have acted 2 weeks ago. Or nascent democracy cannot take hold in such a backward country. Or the President should wait, promise ground forces, act more quickly, withhold ground forces, ignore the NCAA basketball tournament... whatever has been done is never the proper course.

The one sentiment that was not heard on any of the Sunday morning shows was, "What if President Obama is exactly right on this?" I realize this would be a novel result of any US foreign policy, especially in light of the complete disasters we're still experiencing from the last administration.

But let's look at the differences between Libya and the Iraq debacle. Libya's uprising was started by a popular uprising, Iraq's was not. The coalition organized against Libya includes, and is funded by, our allies. The Arab league, while spastic and unreliable, has voiced support for our military action. Our Secretary of State has not needed to lie to the UN in order to get them to pass a proclamation. Obama has not referred to our action as "a crusade." Libya is led by a dictator who has actually attacked US targets, Iraq was not. In short, the US is speaking speaking softly, yet our big stick is crashing down on a despicable terrorist despot.

So I'll ask the question again: What if Obama has gotten this issue exactly right? What if he has deliberated just enough and allowed others to voice the decision that he has already concluded is the correct one? Is that even possible? This is an opinion that would never be heard even if some pundit felt that way. The contrarian view of military action is so easy, so historically easy, to take-- especially with our recent history. Can an American president ever be correct? Fade the warmongering from the right or left.

Criticize the president in a time of war, it's okay only when the president is a Democrat. maybe this all ends in tears...

But consider for a moment, what if he has gotten this one right.

1 comment:

G in Berlin said...

I think he was a bit slow, but I also think that considering the way the West and especially the US, is considered in the Middle East/Arab Street, it was very important that the Arab League commit before the West made a real move. I note that while we waited, other regimes took that as a sign that they could start murdering their citizens with impunity (Bahrain, Syria,Yemen usw.)
I grew up thinking the US would not allow genocide to occur and I have been disappointed in the past- I'm glad to see a change.