Monday, March 21, 2011

West's Intervention in Libya Creates Strange Bedfellows

How else could one get Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC's Hardball and celebrated Dean of the Beltway media, aka, the Idiot Punditocracy, Noam Chomsky, a leading academic thinker on the Left, and Pat Buchanan, MSNBC's resident nativist, to agree on anything? Pat's claim to fame is the original "lock and load" and a blood-curdling GOP convention speech about taking "back our cities ... block by block."

Colonel Khaddafi must have had Pat's speech in his YouTube "favorites"— no doubt the kind of rhetoric he fancies. Pat could charge Khaddafi with plagiarism for his notorious “Zenga Zenga” music video speech, in which Khaddafi pledged to hunt Libya’s rebels like rats “house to corner, alley to alley, inch by inch ... to the last drop of blood.” Echoes of Buchanan for the mad Colonel who said, “I will call upon millions from desert to desert. We will march to purge Libya inch by inch, house by house, alley by alley.”

Here's the Buchanan original: "Here were 19-year-old boys ready to lay down their lives to stop a mob from molesting old people they did not even know. And as those boys took back the streets of Los Angeles, block by block, my friends, we must take back our cities, and take back our culture, and take back our country." When Pat says mob, he is tweaking the voter's racist subconscious fear. Think rampaging mobs of inner-city blacks and invading mobs of non-white illegal aliens. These are common themes — purging, cleansing, disinfecting — in fascist rhetoric.

But that's not all Khaddafi said. Some of my friends on the Left balked at this new military action, just as they balked when NATO intervened to stop "ethnic cleansing" in Bosnia. The opponents of intervention were wrong then, and they're wrong again, now. The two rationalizations they make are absurd: (1) That Libya is a "civil war;" and (2) that's it's all about "OIL."

With regard to the civil war argument, YES, it is a civil war; so what's your point? How is the Left's reticence today any different from that of the world's democracies that stood idly by as Nazi Germany tipped the military scales in favor of Generalissimo Francisco Franco's fascist military coup against the ELECTED republican government of Spain? Back in those days, the only Americans with the balls to fight Franco's fascists and his Nazi patrons were the socialist and communist volunteers of the storied Abraham Lincoln brigade.

The Spanish Civil War was Hitler's laboratory to test his war tactics and new weapons on the Spanish population and the valiant international volunteers who defied him. The abject timidity of the democracies to confront him then only served to embolden the dictators and their grand designs. For nearly 40 years Franco ruled Spain with an iron fist and was toasted by disgraced U.S. president Richard Nixon for his anti-communism.

That worked out really well for the Spanish people.

Bosnia was a civil war, too. It took images of concentration camps reminiscent of Hitler's extermination camps, and the forced evacuation — ethnic cleansing — of Kosovo's predominant Muslim population, reminiscent of Pol Pot's Cambodian killing fields, to get NATO off the block. Should we have not intervened because it was a civil war? When the West stood by and failed to intervene in Rwanda, critics on the Left skewered the West for not acting, and made the specious charge that it was because the victims of genocide were black — they did not look like us — and Rwanda did not have a vital resource, like OIL. Considering the boo birds in the peanut galleries will criticize any decision the West takes, they may as well take one based on principle and humanitarian grounds.

If the critics thought about the OIL argument logically, they would realize it's ridiculous. Khaddafi has remained in power for decades, not by defying the West (which he did, initially, but then reversed himself after the Lockerbie terrorist attack was met with harsh economic sanctions, and earlier military skirmishes with the U.S. in the Gulf of Sidra followed by a Libyan terrorist attack of a German disco triggered the bombing retaliation from the U.S. in which Khaddafi narrowly escaped death when the bombs missed his tent). From then on, Col. Khaddafi became Mr. Cooperation and his oil flowed freely to the West.

As is often the case, the West had made a pact with the Devil by allowing Khaddafi to remain in power in exchange for free-flowing oil. So if OIL were the main motivator here, it would be in the West's interest to stand down and let Khaddafi slaughter his civilian population. The Arab League, terrified as they are of the "Arab Street," wouldn't mind at all. Moreover, many of those fighting on the rebels' side were once allied with Al Qaeda against the United States. So a Realpolitik explanation, that the U.S. is some kind of evil empire out to subjugate and colonize Libya, just doesn't hold water.

Ethnic cleansing is a synonym for genocide. How soon the boo birds forget the example of Canadian Lt. General Roméo Dallaire, who commanded the UN forces in Rwanda and was practically broken by his inability to save hundreds of thousands of human lives, whose genocide he bore witness to. General Dallaire's humanity, his searing and raw torment shamed many of us to action, or at least to a recognition that if we have the means to stop it, STOP the wanton slaughter of civilians we must.

How soon we forget. Often enough, the simplest explanation is the correct one ... Occum's Razor. And though we may criticize the U.S. for its double standard regarding Bahrain and Yemen, two wrongs don't make a right. Never did. Doing what's right is a standalone proposition; it's not dependent or contingent on whether or not a related action is right or wrong. In the case of Libya, Khaddafi has made credible threats that he is prepared to commit wholesale genocide against his people. That is unacceptable, by any standards of civilized behavior.

President Obama had a lot more to do with Mubarak stepping down and the initial peaceful conclusion to the Egyptian Revolution, culminating in the dictator's departure, than he is given credit for. Mubarak certainly didn't agree with the boo birds. In interviews, the bitterness he felt toward the United States for not standing behind him was evident. President Obama threw Mubarak under the bus, and he's about to clip Khaddafi's wings and given the Libyan rebels a fighting chance. I applaud the President for doing the right thing. Let the ideological critics carp. Common sense trumps ideology.

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