Monday, March 21, 2011

Going To War

An awful lot of people are checking in with their thoughts on the military actions the United States has committed to through the United Nations against Libya. A lot of intelligent people are asking some very good questions, including John Cole and Josh Marshall, as well as the usual political suspects from both sides of the aisle. In this din you’re going to hear a lot of people saying that this really isn’t a war, that we’re not the ones leading it, that the exit strategy is pretty simple (just stop bombing things), and that we’ll know it’s over either when Col. Qaddafi gives up or when we say it is.

I can’t and won’t get into the dissection of all the details of how we as a country went from voicing support for the rebels in Libya from a distance with the same amount of enthusiasm that we had for the demonstrators in Bahrain and Yemen to bombing the daylights out of Libyan ground forces in less than 24 hours. All of a sudden this went from talking points at the Pentagon to reporting live pictures of explosions on CNN. Last Friday morning there was nothing; this morning it’s the whole package. We went from 0 to Mach 1 in no time.

We’ve always been told by every president that war is the last resort. That’s a handy excuse to justify military action; say all the options are used up, then charge. It makes it easy in the beginning, but whether or not it’s justified by the facts or not, going to war has become too easy. There are people on both sides of the aisle who are wondering if the president followed the law in leading and joining the attack on Libya, and you’ll get very detailed answers from both advocates and detractors. There are the humanitarian reasons; we had to stop the aggression against the rebels who were being overwhelmed by Qaddafi’s troops, and the example given was our support for the war in Bosnia in 1993. But the same questions were asked at that time, and the answers weren’t there then, either. The war ended with the tyrant being removed. But at a terrible cost, and the after-effects are still being felt.

Josh Marshall says that this action is “just a bad, bad idea.” He’s talking specifically about this action. Let me just go one further. All war is just a bad, bad idea. It means that there are no ideas left, and that just isn’t acceptable. No, I do not know what the solutions to tyrants, villainy, misery, and the intentional infliction of terror on innocent people are. But I do know that more misery and the intentional infliction of terror on innocent people is not the answer.