20 March 2011

The fight for freedom, revitalized

Western air-strikes have rolled back the Qaddhafi forces' assault on Benghazi and stopped much of the bloody artillery slaughter of civilians in other rebel-held cities. The rebels are regaining their confidence, but want the West to do more. After some criticism, the Arab League re-affirms its support.

Beyond Libya, the Arab struggle for freedom gains heart in Syria, Morocco, and Yemen.

6 Comments:

Blogger Nance said...

Gotta say, I'm two thumbs down on our involvement in Libya since I heard Mr. Obama say today that "in a matter of days, not weeks" the coalition will be assuming a leadership role in the air strikes. We just can't keep our noses out of another sovereign country's business if we think there's a shot at democracy in there somewhere. My stance: End 'em and bring 'em home. Don't get pulled in again.

And, of course, we won't heed that caution because, if we brought them home, our unemployment numbers would, indeed, be Great Depression level.

21 March, 2011 19:20  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

Nance: Why shouldn't it be the Europeans rather than the US who take the lead here? They're the ones whose interests are most directly at stake -- if Qaddhafi succeeded in re-conquering all of Libya, a tidal wave of refugees would flood into Egypt and Tunisia, and a good many of them (not just a few thousand as we've already seen) would end up on Europe's doorstep.

Even with the uncertainty about what will replace Qaddhafi, any substantial chance of democracy spreading in the Arab world is in our own long-term interest as well -- especially in the case of Libya, since the current regime is hostile and unpredictable.

I don't think unemployment has anything to do with the military interventions (remember that Iraq and Afghanistan started before Bush wrecked the economy). The number of soldiers overseas is tiny compared with 15-20 million already unemployed within the US. If the point were simply to keep them doing something in order to depress unemployment figures, that could be done within the US at far less cost.

22 March, 2011 04:46  
Blogger Nance said...

This is a tricky debate on the military and unemployment, but one that I've been thinking about for months...just sorta floated in this comment.

I think the actual number deployed is relatively small, but they are backed by a huge budget for personnel and equipment, so you have to factor in the effect of a major military shrinkage across the board. The big suppliers would suffer and lay off (Boeing, Northrop Grummond, etc.), there would eventually have to be a massive personnel draw-down, more base closures, etc.

In addition, the military is a go-to job source for young men and women who can't go on to college and can't get jobs (disproportionately, in recent years, represented by minority youth). In anticipation of force draw-downs in Iraq and Afghanistan, the various forces have cut back on recruitment numbers, which has had some effect on the unemployment figures among the 2010 high school graduating classes and will have more in 2011.

Call me cynical, but call me experienced; as an Air Force family by history, with a daughter whose husband is career Navy and a step-grandson trying to get in, we're watching this all unfold firsthand.

Oh, and, I think you misunderstood me on the Europeans taking the lead in Libya. The US should not be involved in any but the most minor way in any further action in the Middle East. Europe SHOULD be entirely in charge. I'm cringing at our foolish trust in coalitions.

The so-called military-industrial complex is alive and well in America and one of the few growth industries in this economy.

22 March, 2011 07:53  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

The US should not be involved in any but the most minor way in any further action in the Middle East.

Why not? Our own interests are at stake too, as I explained, and we have the most firepower and can make a large contribution.

If ending the interventions in Afghanistan and Iraq would substantially increase unemployment, then starting those interventions would have substantially decreased it. Most of the military people and resources deployed there would still be part of the military even without the interventions, even if they were distributed differently.

22 March, 2011 08:41  
Blogger Nance said...

The tricky part of this discussion for me is that, as a liberal, as a human rights advocate, I am entirely in sympathy with those who protest in the Middle East. But, when they complain that the US is not being helpful enough, they aren't aware of what they are wishing for. They want us and, as soon as we comply, they don't want us. It's a lose-lose proposition for us.

And, as a liberal Democrat, I am concerned that the conservative--nay, reactionary--drumbeat in our country leaves us entirely unprepared for real instability in the oil-producing countries. We aren't spending on alternative fuel sources fast enough now to get us through the prolonged period of self-stabilization these countries will need. Therefore, we're going to get stuck with a need to attempt to provide that stability. That means getting in deeper.

My point is that our own economic situation increases the likelihood that we'll stay at war; we can't afford to and we can't afford not to. Nations do not grow stronger when they are trapped in reaction to conditions.

I've been enjoying this discussion, but it's keeping me from reading your newer posts, which is frustrating! I'm reading onward...

22 March, 2011 17:12  
Blogger Infidel753 said...

They want us and, as soon as we comply, they don't want us.

That used to be the pattern. I think the Arabs have advanced dramatically in their political maturity. We are intervening and they still want us.

the conservative--nay, reactionary--drumbeat in our country leaves us entirely unprepared for real instability in the oil-producing countries.

The conservatives in this country are rallying against the intervention -- whatever Obama does, it's wrong. Odd that so many liberals are offering them moral support.

We aren't spending on alternative fuel sources fast enough now to get us through the prolonged period of self-stabilization these countries will need.

Tough. We've had decades of opportunity. The Arabs are entitled to cast off their tyrants even if it inconveniences us -- and they're entitled to the active support of all democracy-loving people in doing so.

Therefore, we're going to get stuck with a need to attempt to provide that stability. That means getting in deeper.

Once the tyrants are gone -- and yes, I'm looking at you, Saudi royal family -- we will probably have to help provide stability, but that doesn't mean militarily. More like what we're already offering the liberated countries.

My point is that our own economic situation increases the likelihood that we'll stay at war;

I don't see why. Soon Qaddhafi will be gone and the Libyan conflict will wind down. After the revolutionary wave has swept across the Arab world, it's only right that we should offer help -- but that won't include shooting at people, or trying to dominate them. Once the autocrats are gone, the Arabs can handle things themselves.

I've been enjoying this discussion, but it's keeping me from reading your newer posts, which is frustrating! I'm reading onward..

Very flattering, thanks -- I hope you continue to find them of interest.....

22 March, 2011 18:09  

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