By Don Feder
What’s even more absurd and futile than going to war to spread democracy and advance human rights? Intervention to stop regimes from “killing their own people.”
This is the sole rationale offered for Obama’s Libya excursion (Operation Odyssey Dawn even sounds like a Carnival Cruise ship) – to keep a tyrant from killing his own people.
British Prime Minister David Cameron declares: “Colonel Gaddafi has made this happen. We can not allow the slaughter of civilians to continue.”
While criticizing the way the mission was undertaken (and telling the president he “must do a better job of communicating to the American people”), House Speaker John Boehner – de facto chairman of the Obama Reelection Campaign – nevertheless insists: “It’s unacceptable and outrageous for Gaddafi to attack his own people, and the violence must stop.” From this beastly behavior, you will desist at once!
On March 19, Barack Obama said he had authorized a limited military action “to protect Libyan civilians.”
In the four decades Col. Gaddafi has been in power, how many of his “own people” do you think he’s murdered? In the past, we bombed him exactly once, not for killing his people but for killing our people – after the 1986 Berlin nightclub bombing, where two U.S. servicemen died.
The killing-his-own-people standard is applied with excruciating selectivity. The odds that we’ll keep a particular people from being butchered by a particular tyrant are comparable to winning the grand prize in a multi-state lottery.
• In 2009, Ahmadinejad was killing demonstrators in the streets of Tehran. As many as 150 died. Unlike the Libyan regime, nuclear-armed Iran really does pose a clear and present danger. Far from authorizing air strikes, it took our president weeks to work up the courage to condemn the slaughter.
• Over the course of three months in 1994, 800,000 Rwandans died in a tribal bloodbath. Other than offering humanitarian support – and singing “Toot, Toot Tutsi Goodbye!” – the West did nothing.
• On the night of June 3-4, 1989, the People’s Liberation Army liberated from their earthly existence 3,000 pro-democracy protestors in Tiananmen Square. Over the past decade, the regime has tortured to death an additional 3,400 of its own people who were members of the Falun Gong meditation cult. The PRC is our second largest trading partner and President Hu Jintao is an honored guest at the White House.
• During the 1990s, Kim Jong-Il, the evil madman who holds North Korea hostage, killed between 900,000 and 3.5 million of his own people in a state-sponsored famine. Instead of Tomahawk missiles up the keester, Kim got bribes to keep him from developing and/or proliferating nuclear weapons.
And still the administration, its media lackeys, and European amnesiacs offer the moral imperative of protecting Libyan civilians as the casus belli for the second most senseless humanitarian intervention this nation has undertaken.
The first came under another leftwing Democratic president. In 1999, then-President William Hefner Clinton dove into bed with the Islamists of the Kosovo Liberation Army. (Maybe he missed Monica.) In the 78 days we shocked and awed Yugoslavia, 3,000 civilians died.
We were there, Clinton informed us, to stop the ethnic cleansing of Albanian Muslims by Serbian Christians. When NATO turned Kosovo over to the KLA, none of the alleged mass graves were found. The ethnic cleansing came later, when victorious Albanians drove 277,000 Serbs from their homes, two-thirds of the province’s pre-war population.
In December 2010, a report by the Council of Europe charged Kosovo Prime Minister Hashim (the Snake) Thaci with harvesting the organs of Serb prisoners murdered for that purpose.
Aren’t humanitarian interventions fun?
Which brings us to the first intervention the community organizer can truly call his own. Operation Charlie Sheen is run by Barrack, Hillary, Defense Secretary Robert Gates and their joint chiefs of staff – Larry, Moe and Curly.
According to a story in the March 22 Washington Times, “observers” believe it will be hard to reach an agreement among coalition partners “given the divergence of opinion” about what they want to happen. (Gaddafi goes. Gaddafi stays but stops killing his own people. Gaddafi becomes a contestant on Dancing With the Stars.) Our French coalition partners are confused. They don't know who to surrender to.
Obama got us into this mess armed with a resolution of the U.N. Security Council (10-0 vote, with China and Russia abstaining) and an “Allah-be-praised” from the Arab League, whose members are willing to sit back and see the infidels bloody the tyrant for the sake of the jihadists.
I didn’t know Article I Section 8 of the United States Constitution gives the U.N. Security Council and the Arab League the power to declare war. That must mean the European Union has the authority to levy taxes, the power to confirm judicial appointments is vested in the Organization of the Islamic Conference and the Grand Duchy of Fenwick enforces U.S. immigration law.
In some ways, Libya isn’t as bad as the Egyptian intervention, in others, much worse. (We didn’t bomb the Egyptian Army because then-President Hosni Mubarak was killing his own people.)
Mubarak was definitely our bastard.
Caroline Glick writes in a March 21 column in The Jerusalem Post: “Under Mubarak, Egypt advanced U.S. interests in two main ways. First by waging war against the Muslim Brotherhood and opposing the rise of Iranian power in the region, Mubarak weakened regional forces that most threatened U.S. interests. Second, by managing the Suez Canal in conformance with international maritime law, Egypt facilitated the smooth transport of petroleum products to global markets and prevented Iran from operating in the Mediterranean Sea.”
Thanks to our Special-Olympics intervention, the Muslim Brotherhood is now the most powerful political force in the nation, as the March 19 referendum on constitutional amendments demonstrated.
Egypt’s newly appointed foreign minister has called for opening the nation’s border with Hamas-infested Gaza, to facilitate the flow of arms. And Egypt’s ruling coalition is allowing Iranian ships – carrying weapons to Hamas – to traverse the Suez Canal without being inspected. Where do you think Palestinian terrorists (a redundancy, I know) got the long-range Iranian Grad-type rockets they recently fired into Be’er Sheva?
Isn’t intervention fun?
Unlike Mubarak, you can’t say the Colonel is our bastard. (Reagan called him a “mad dog.”) But for the past 15 years or so, he’s been a remarkably well-behaved bastard. After 9/11, he saw which way the wind was blowing over the sand dunes, gave up his WMD programs, renounced terrorism, paid billions in reparations to the families of the victims of the Lockerbie bombing and acted as a bulwark against al-Qaeda in his region (out of self-interest to be sure).
On the other side of the Libyan civil war, the rebels are supported by al-Qaeda. The U.S. Military Academy at West Point’s Combating Terrorism Center notes that most of the Libyans fighting our forces in Iraq come from rebel strongholds.
As of Tuesday, we had fired 161 Tomahawk cruise missiles at Gaddafi’s military installations, each costing $1.16 million. It will cost an estimated $400 million to $800 million just to establish the no-fly zone, and as much as $100 million a week to maintain it.
This is small change compared to the cost of Iraq and Afghanistan – denominated in dollars and blood.
March 20 marked the 8th anniversary of our long march into the Iraq morass. The net result: 4,500 dead Americans, 67,500 dead Iraqis and 50,000 troops still stationed in the country. The Congressional Budget Office estimates the cost of Operation Enduring Bankruptcy, projected through 2017 (the target date of our withdrawal), at $2.4 trillion – somewhere around 17% of the current National Debt.
We deep-sixed Saddam, killed a lot of terrorists and gave Iraq the semblance of democracy – which will last until the last U.S. soldier departs. The loveable Iraqis reciprocated by killing and terrorizing the nation’s Christian population.
Going into Iraq was probably the right thing to do. (I’m having doubts about that too.) Staying for 8 years seems a folly comparable to Napoleon’s invasion of Russia.
But why run just one war when you can do two simultaneously? Afghanistan has cost over 1,550 American lives and $101 billion so far. Obama increased our troop strength to 100,000. Last year, terrorist attacks increased 64% and 2,777 civilians died.
If Iraq is Mission Impossible, Afghanistan has become Mission The-Road-to-Hell-is-Paved-With-Good-Intensions. In the 19th century it was a British graveyard. In the 1970s and 80s, it was Moscow’s mausoleum.
Its denizens are the raw material for democracy the way Mel Gibson is in line for a brotherhood award.
The Roman Empire bled to death on hundreds of foreign battlefields. (Its politicians helped at home, with taxes and inflation. Sound familiar?) Is there a Latin term for mission creep?
Obama’s Libyan adventure will be worth the cost if it sparks an authentic, no-holds-barred, everything-on-the-table debate about military interventions.
Humanitarian intervention (stop-him-from-killing-his-own-people), intervention to spread democracy and uphold human rights (as Bush ’43 so cluelessly put it in his second inaugural address, “The best hope for peace in our world is the expansion of freedom in our world”) make as much sense as Obama’s Shiite health care program.
There is one, and only one, reason to use the U.S. military overseas. It’s called Operation You-Better-Be-Damn-Sure-Our-National-Interests-Are-At-Stake.
Operation Odyssey Dawn will go down in history as one of the high points in a presidency that has brought us unemployment hovering around 10%, a 21.4% increase in federal spending, the only three trillion-plus budget deficits, the federal abandonment of traditional marriage, race-based justice and suing Arizona for trying to keep out criminal aliens.
Will Barack Obama do more damage domestically or with his defense/foreign policy? It will be close – very close.
Don Feder is a former Boston Herald writer who is now a political/communications consultant. He also maintains his own website, DonFeder.com