Published by the Students of Johns Hopkins since 1896
December 3, 2022

Intervention, just war and why the U.S. should not get involved in Libya

By BO TAO | April 7, 2011


he Libyan Crisis has been muddled with questions and misinformation. On one side, we have the Pro-Gaddafi forces pushing east towards Benghazi. On the other side, the rebels are pushing towards Tripoli. When the conflict broke out, the Western media heavily underestimated the Pro-Gaddafi support within the country, mainly depicting Anti-Gaddafi protestors chanting slogans and smearing the old tricolor Libyan flag on their faces.

As stability broke down within Libya, the Western powers decided to intervene to prevent civilian massacres by Gaddafi loyalists. Missiles flew, jets strafed, and people on both sides died. However, is U.S. intervention really necessary and important? I will provide three arguments for why the U.S should not involve itself within Libya.

President Obama has set an unprecedented record in bypassing. the U.S. Congress to declare a “kinetic military action” against Libya. Obama had time to ask the UN, the Arab League and the EU to discuss what to do about the situation, but he did not ask Congress. Then under a UN resolution, he declared that the U.S. will now be engaging with Libyan ground forces with air strikes.

Over 100 Tomahawk missiles have been fired at Libya in addition to the air support. First, how is this not an act of war? Second, how does a UN resolution supersede the U.S. Constitution? Congress always has the ability to declare war and raise armies. The President is the commander in chief of the armed forces, but he does not have the ability to invade or attack another nation without approval from Congress. James Madison warned of the dangers of the executive office attaining war powers.

As for the UN resolution, what if the UN decided one day that the U.S. Constitution is too inconvenient and passes a resolution that allows it to supersede national constitutional laws. Should the president just obey the UN Resolution or stick with the Constitution?

When statesmen take an oath of allegiance to this country and the Constitution, they should stick with it and not play political games. The last formally declared war in U.S. history was WWII. How is this act of war different from Vietnam, Korea or Iraq, all of which were undeclared?

The second argument against Libyan intervention is the humanitarian factor. It is true that civilians get killed during a war, but that’s war. If you are on the losing side, there will be reprisals! The problem with this argument is that the U.S. only intervenes when it is in its economic or political interests. Egypt’s Mubarak was a staunch ally of the U.S., and the U.S. never considered military strikes or economic sanctions against him.

We pampered him with billions of taxpayer dollars to fill his Swiss bank accounts. His humanitarian record of torture, oppression and suppression of political opponents doesn’t make him the best leader to have. Then we have our ally in Bahrain, which had its troops deliberately shoot the protestors and even invited Saudi and UAE troops to enter its country to quell the rebellion. Our biggest allies in the Middle East, the Saudis, are even more interesting.

When the right-wing nutjobs complain about Sharia Law and denounce it on C-SPAN, they don’t consider that Wahabism is alive and strong in our ally, Saudi Arabia. Not only are women’s rights suppressed, but some of the most medieval punishments are still enforced such as beheadings, public lashings and torture. Iran is still suppressing its protesters.

They torture, kidnap and kill dissidents and non-Muslims. So which of these fine nations do we invade next? Where was the U.S. when Hutus and Tutsis decided to have genocide in Rwanda? How many people in Darfur were killed when Sudanese militias decided to kill off the ethnic non-Muslim Africans? Furthermore, what would we do if the Libyan rebels decided to massacre Gaddafi supporters if they win the conflict?

From the intelligence perspective, the problem with these interventions results with blowback. A simple definition of blowback is defined as the unintended consequences of interventions (military or economic) against a sovereign nation. The most notable man who the U.S. supported against the Soviet Afghan Invasion was Osama Bin Laden.

The CIA trained, equipped and supported the Afghan Mujahedeen against the Soviets. The CIA succeeded in repelling the spread of Communism, only to have the terrorists fly planes into the Pentagon and the Twin Towers years later. Another notable example is when the CIA overthrew the secular government of Mohammed Mossadeq and installed the Shah. The pretense was that Mossadeq decided to nationalize the oil production within Iran and stop the British Petroleum (Yes, that BP!) oil monopoly.

The Shah brutally oppressed the Iranian people while he and his family lived in luxury. A few decades later, the Shah was overthrown by the Ayatollah and now we have a maniac in Iran who wants to wipe Israel off the face of the earth and calls America the “Great Satan.” The theory behind the use of economic sanctions against nations such as Cuba and Iran is that the economic depravity will weaken the government.

Instead, sanctions have been credited to strengthening the central government. To the people, the governments are resisting the Western Imperialists and it is the West that is killing their children. Military and economic consequences of blowback apply to Libya. We don’t have the intelligence on the rebels in Libya. They could be Al Queda, Muslim Brotherhood, civilians armed with AKs or a mix. If we enforce economic sanctions, it will only strengthen Gaddafi when he provides vital necessities to his supporters.

America has bases in over 150 countries around the world. The reason for this are not peace, stability or humanitarian reasons. This problem is due to interventionist U.S. foreign policy; for the benefit of the American Empire. The American Empire doesn’t need to have troops in other nations; it just needs a dirty puppet to stay in line for us.

To us, we may seem like heroes, invading under the pretense of freedom and democracy. To the people on the receiving end, we are the crusaders, the Yankee invaders and the infidels. The founding fathers warned the people of entangling alliances which lead to overseas ventures and endless wars. Washington has shown that it is unwilling to “change.”

Neither the left nor the right has sounded significant opposition to this war (yes, it is war), except for the few vocal opponents such as Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich.

I am advocating for a non-interventionist foreign policy, not an isolationist policy. Non-interventionism means that as a nation, we should maintain diplomacy with other nations, but not engage in alliances or their affairs.

War should only be used for self-defense. We should be friends to other nations and trade with them. We should learn about the different cultures of other nations and view society through their eyes.

Most importantly, we should realize that American ideals and values may not be the same in other nations. America is at a crossroad. We can keep spending, militarizing and intervening or we can go back to our roots. That is the choice that our generation must make.

Before Libya stalemates or NATO sends in troops, let’s get out of there and let the rebels deal with it. The rebels knew what they were doing when they rebelled. Now it’s time for them to finish it and face the outcomes.

Comments powered by Disqus

Please note All comments are eligible for publication in The News-Letter.

News-Letter Special Editions