Honestly speaking, I have never been an advocate of war. There is often uneasiness within me to see bombs being dropped on cities and other urban areas. Military strategists will no doubt tell us that these precision guided bombs cause little damage to civilians, as they are not the ones being targeted but evidence on the ground normally shows differently. People get killed and maimed. Societies and families become destabilized. The suppression of the collateral damage never gives the full scope of the conflict's impact on civilian populations.
For the past few months, I have been at pains to truly understand why Libya is being relentlessly bombed. I have read the papers with scrutiny, I have listened to all the pundits and politicians on television spewing their why we are correct to be in Libya rhetoric'. But I never get too excited by rhetoric; evidence on the ground is what I look towards. Deeper analyses of the issues at hand are the things that eventually lead towards my conviction that a course of action, especially a military one, is correct.
It is certain that Col Muammar Gaddafi has not been the typical model of an upstanding world leader. The suppression of his people and his tyrannical hold on power for decades is a tragedy in its own right. Furthermore, the question still looms over his involvement in the Lockerbie massacre; further markers as to the questionable character of the man.
However, did NATO with the United States in support, pursue its best line of retaliation against Gaddafi? I use the term retaliation widely, as there is a lingering thought that occupies my mind as to whether Gaddafi is being punished by the West for his past misgivings and his defiance of Western influence in Libya for over 40 years. This question does have merit I do believe. But of course, every question does have merit, it just depends on which side of the fence your position is.
In a time when economic gloom casts an uncertain future over many of the world's leading economies, vast sums of money are being channelled into a bombing campaign to liberate Libya. Just today, reports coming out of the UK are showing that the Libyan conflict is so far costing '200 million and some defence economists have even gone further to warn that if the Libyan conflict lasts into the autumn, the cost could spiral towards '1 billion pounds. That is the UK's cost and a similar cost concern also exists with the US's involvement in the same bombing campaign. Obama's poll ratings tell a story of a President under pressure.
International security is vital. Protection of civil liberties and freedom from oppression are noble aspirations, I agree. But is our money being well spent bombing Libya? Some of these NATO countries are meeting harsh economic times, cutting essential services with abandon due to cost constraints yet these vast sums can be found to drop cruise missiles on another man's country? Have we not learned anything from Iraq? Democracy cannot be won with bombs and sophisticated weaponry. Ideologies are not replaced overnight by killing its proponents. In the same breath these bombs are dropped to kill suspected tyrants and terrorists, in the same token we risk giving birth to new tyrants and terrorists who are inflamed with anger at the destruction of their infrastructure, loss of family members and other such unwarranted civilian casualties.
Gaddafi was out in the wilderness for quite a number of years. Even President Reagan sent missiles into Libya with the hope of freeing the Libyan people from Gaddafi but he still remained in power, escaping each time these attempts on his life.
Gaddafi was an unwelcomed guest at our table of freedom, rule of law and democracy, yet Western governments just a few years ago, were tripping over themselves to be captured on camera shaking this very same man's hand while signing trade deals with him. Oil and other Libyan exports then took precedence over the suffering of the Libyan people.
Someone is surely having a laugh. Gaddafi did not balloon into this great tyrant over night; he was always that way inclined even when we were signing multi-billion dollar deals to trade with him. Did the suffering of the Libyan people not matter then?
It is shameful that we are bombing Libya in support of these rebels fighting against Gaddafi but what I want to know is, who are these so-called rebels'? What are their real intentions if and when Gaddafi is ousted? How are we so certain that their ideologies are any different from the current leadership? Do they respect the rule of law and also want freedom for the Libyan people, or do they just want power and control over Libya's vast resources? There are so many questions to consider as it relates to these rebels' that we keep hearing about.
Humanitarian concerns prompted our foray into Libya, yet Syria murders its own people by the day and we stand by and utter words only. Bahrain and Yemen harshly crack down on the uprising of its people towards more democratic and open governance and we look on and impose a few sanctions, thinking that these dictators care about sanctions. We stand for liberty, free and fair government why our leaders say Gaddafi must go, so what then of Syria, Bahrain and Yemen? Don't they too deserve backing for their struggles?
My point here is that it is a dangerous precedent that Western governments set when they intervene to bring about democracy and change. It worked in Kosovo, some may even say it worked in Iraq but at what human and financial cost to both Iraq and those countries that were involved? Look at Afghanistan Obama is now bucking his heels and running west! That war in unwinnable and to stay there would mean a commitment for years to come. Who will pay those costs when our economies are struggling?
A decade of war has virtually bankrupted the West, yet it seems we have not learnt any lessons. Strongmen & dictators will always come and go during the course of our current civilisation but we have to ask ourselves if it is our duty to always seek to eliminate them. Perhaps it is, in some instances. But when our economies are suffering, how can we continue to justify these costs?
Photo Credit to McPhearson Report
Jeevan Robinson is Editor-in-Chief of MNI Alive. He can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org