Libya and the United States

I haven’t really been following the situation in Libya and the other Arab states where citizens have been rising up against oppressive governments. I’ve read a little bit about it online, but we don’t have television, and since I left the news business four years ago, I haven’t kept up with a lot of stories.

Today, I read an email newsletter from my congressman, Jeff Miller. I once had great respect for Rep. Miller, but lately, all of his newsletters seem designed to cast doubt and suspicion on the actions of President Obama. All it does is make me doubt Rep. Miller’s motives.

You can read Congressman Miller’s newsletter in full online. Here, I’ll quote excerpts, in italics, beginning with the following:

The situation in Libya has been evolving constantly since unrest emerged there in February, following similar uprisings in Tunisia, Egypt, and other Arab states. Muammar Gaddafi—the man President Ronald Reagan called the “Mad Dog of the Middle East” for his sponsorship of terrorist activity against the United States and her allies—responded violently to opposition protests and threatened to treat protesters like “dogs” and to “show no mercy.”

He goes on to criticize President Obama for not speaking out against or taking action during the uprising and Gaddafi’s violent reaction to it.

He does not criticize Republican President Richard Nixon, who was in office in 1969 when Gaddafi overthrew the sitting monarch and seized control of the Libyan government. Why didn’t the U.S. take action then to protect the Libyan people from falling under a military dictatorship?

In February 2006, in the Libyan city of Benghazi, some 30 Libyans and foreigners were killed during civil unrest. Also in 2006, Middle East Quarterly quoted Gaddafi as saying that “execution is the fate of anyone who forms a political party.” Rep. Miller does not criticize then-President George W. Bush for failing to take action against Gaddafi for restricting political freedoms in his country or for the murder of both Libyan citizens and foreigners.

Gaddafi has been in power for 42 years – through eight presidential administrations, including 28 years of Republican leadership – but Rep. Miller mentions none of that. Instead, he writes:

For three weeks the President remained silent while the world waited for some sign of American leadership, some indication of America’s intentions.

Now, let’s approach things from a different direction.

On September 11, 2001, Muslim terrorists launched an attack on the United States. When the U.S. initiated military action against Al-Qaida and its leader Osama bin Laden in Afghanistan, the world was behind us. A few weeks later, the Bush administration concocted  a story about weapons of mass destruction in Iraq and declared war against that country and its leader, Saddam Hussein. As the truth came out, the world slowly began turning against us. Even in Iraq, the U.S. is criticized for its interference. I’ve spoken to a young man who was deployed to Iraq several times, about his experience with the people there, so my opinion is not just based on media reports.

Rep. Miller, in his newsletter, says that President Obama initiated his war in Libya without seeking the approval of the Congress.

But wait! Rep. Miller admits that President Obama consulted with The Arab League and the United Nations on the best course of action for the U.S. to take in this situation. As I began reading a few news reports this evening, I saw that U.S. troops are being deployed to Libya as part of a U.N. mission to Libya, a mission that includes troops from a number of other European nations.

So, in essence, President Obama is keeping the United States out of war, while still allowing the U.S. to take part in helping protect Libyan citizens.

I think this is the right approach, for these reasons:

  • The United States can’t afford the wars that it’s in, much less a third front. Our limited involvement is costing the U.S. hundreds of millions of dollars, according to Rep. Miller. A full-out war would cost much more and would likely prolong our involvement in Libya.
  • The United States needs to be part of a larger response, in order to reduce criticism of the U.S. for once again meddling in another country’s affairs.
  • The United States must take some action, because we have always tried to assist other nations, other peoples in their quest for freedom. It’s a part of who we are and what we are.

President Obama did not declare war against Gaddafi or Libya. The limited action he authorized in support of the United Nations mission is, in my opinion, the best way to help a nation of people speaking out against oppression without earning more anti-American sentiment among the world’s nations.

Rep. Miller concludes his newsletter by saying that our Nation [should commit] to war only when we must.

Really? Was that a “must” when the Bush administration lied about and faked evidence of weapons of mass destruction in Iraq? Because instead of building a false case against Iraq, we should have focused all our efforts on finding Osama bin Laden and disbanding the terrorist group Al-Qaida, the ones who actually attacked the United States, both here at home and abroad.

Finally, I must acknowledge the one thing Rep. Miller wrote that I can agree with:

…our men and women in uniform deserve our highest thanks for their loyalty, patriotism, and professionalism.

 Amen to that. Thank you to all our men and women in uniform, and to your families, for service and sacrifice on behalf of freedom.

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About Taminar

When I grow up, I want to make movies and write books. Now in my 50s, I wonder if I'll ever really accomplish the dreams of my youth. I have made two short films, one for a college film-making class, the other for an MTV-sponsored contest. I have written short plays that have been produced, and a few short stories and reviews that have been published. I also perform and direct for community theatre. My working life has included stints in local TV news, public relations, retail management and cashier, and for a couple of years, I made the rides go at Walt Disney World. I have three cats and a husband.
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