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Thoughts on Libya

Muammar Qaddafi's regime is crumbling.  Reports coming out of Libya are that Qaddafi's son has been captured, the "rebels" control 95% of Tripoli, and Qaddafi is nowhere to be found.

Libyans are taking to the streets celebrating, while in some parts the fighting is clearly still ongoing.  

We wish the Libyan people well in the coming days, weeks, and months.  The "Transitional National Council" was recognized by the United States as the leaders of the rebellion in mid-July, and we will soon see whether they wield enough control to maintain stability in the country.  During this time we will all see whether a dictator will be replaced by another dictator, an authoritarian government, or some form of representative democracy.

The ouster of an "evil, villainous, dictator" will certainly be heralded as a success by NATO, the United States, and her allies.  Yet, the important factor is examining the dangerous precedents that are set by this illegal warfare in Libya.

Cato's Chris Preble writes,

Will U.S. warplanes soon be flying over Syria? Will U.S. bombs soon be raining down on Iran? Or on any other country that has the misfortune of being ruled by an incompetent or venal government? Once, the answer was clearly no; now we just don’t know.

Salon's Glenn Greenwald writes,

It's impossible not to be moved by the celebration of Libyans over the demise of (for some at least) their hated dictator, just as was the case for the happiness of Kurds and Shiites over Saddam's.  And I've said many times before, there are undoubtedly many Libya war supporters motivated by the magnanimous (though misguided) desire to use the war to prevent mass killings (just as some Iraq War supporters genuinely wanted to liberate Iraqis).

But the real toll of this war (including the number of civilian deaths that have occurred and will occur) is still almost entirely unknown, and none of the arguments against the war (least of all the legal ones) are remotely resolved by yesterday's events.  Shamelessly exploiting hatred of the latest Evil Villain to irrationally shield all sorts of policies from critical scrutiny -- the everything-is-justified-if-we-get-a-Bad-Guy mentality -- is one of the most common and destructive staples of American political discourse, and it's no better when done here.

Greenwald's first statement reminds me of John Quincy Adams' speech before the House of Representatives July 4th, 1821.

Wherever the standard of freedom and Independence has been or shall be unfurled, there will her heart, her benedictions and her prayers be.

But she goes not abroad, in search of monsters to destroy.

She is the well-wisher to the freedom and independence of all.

She is the champion and vindicator only of her own.


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