17 March 2011

libya, budgets, and hypocrisy

not that anyone really needs a recap, but for the sake of some context, here some is. libyan rebel forces, inspired by the wave of revolutions across the middle east and the successful overthrows of autocrats to its east and west, have been fighting libya's dictator, colonel mohammar qaddafi, since about mid-february of this year. since the beginning of these protests, qaddafi's response has grown more and more menacing, resorting to air strikes and the bombing of his people. hundreds of libyans have been slaughtered, and each passing day brings qaddafi closer and closer to quelling the unrest.

stateside, republicans and democrats in congress are battling it out over how to balance our budget. completely ignoring (for political gain) the fact that the vast majority of america's imbalance is in the two sacred areas of defense spending and entitlements (a la social security and medicare), the battle is over which parks lose funding or which childcare program gets the hose. it's a typical run-around that goes nowhere and gets nowhere. and here americans sit, subjected to the doomsday scenarios presented by our friends at fox news and the snark coming from the lefties.

and libya. here in the u.s. of a wages a battle over how to help those poor embattled rebels in libya, fighting for their own chance at democracy. and don't get me wrong, i am sympathetic. i am sorry that qaddafi is a ruthless bastard and fights his weaponless people with air strikes and sophisticated weaponry. but - and hear me loud and clear - it is not the responsibility of america to solve that crisis. not on its own anyway.

i don't mean to sound like an isolationist either, as i am most certainly in favor of lending a hand when and where we can. but this country has already lost its credibility in the middle east, and established a reputation as an oil addicted bully willing to go to any length to imperialize the world's oil-rich lands. president obama has been right to wait out the current unrest, to allow the people of the middle east to fight for and bleed for their own democracy (as in, holy shit, someone in america actually did learn that american-style democracy cannot be thrust upon the likes of iraq and afghanistan), and to wait for a signal from the UN or the arab league of nations that it's time to take action against qaddafi.

a signal that's not yet come. by rule of international law (rules americans expect and even demand be followed by the global community), we cannot unilaterally invade a country or assist rebels against its government without UN backing. and whilst one could certainly argue (and successfully, i might add) that america has a history of only following the rules when its in our advantage to do so, i'd like to think those days are gone (or at least on hiatus whilst under the leadership of president obama), and that we are attempting to reside within the confines of our global community instead of being the neighborhood bully.

the thing i don't get in all of this though is that the same people with the doomsday predictions over our budget woes, those campaigning the end of days for america and its coming indentured servitude to its creditors, are the same pushing for an invasion of libya (or a more muted offer of assistance to the rebels). i mean, we can't afford to offer family planning to america's poor and middle class women or funding public radio to rural areas, but we can afford another unliateral and unlimited entanglement in a hostile middle east environment? no. we can't.


p.s. happy st. patrick's day!

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