Last month, I blogged about the Egyptian “revolution.” The big news this month is the struggle for liberation from totalitarianism in Libya, which bears many resemblances to what preceded it in Egypt. So why am I not referring to it as a “revolution”? The conflict in Libya bears one fundamental difference from that in Egypt.
In Egypt, the revolutionaries were entirely peaceful—no one raised arms against Mubarak. In fact, that’s what made it so interesting to me. In Libya, on the other hand, an armed rebel force is leading the charge against Moammar Gadhafi. The Libyan rebels are inexperienced but they are anything but peaceful.
This makes the recent events in Libya essentially a civil war. For that reason, I have grave concerns for the United States’ involvement in it under the authority of the UN Security Council resolution. While I am empathetic for the Libyan peoples’ fight for freedom from Gadhafi, it in no way is a national security issue. Gadhafi poses no imminent threat to the US…as long as we take no military action in Libya. The conflict in Libya is just one of a number of civil wars around the world and the US should no more be involved in it than it should be involved in any of the others.
All I can see in the future for this is a quagmire. The UN has not laid out an end game for their resolution. Without UN occupation forces on the ground in Libya, victory is far from certain for the rebels. Pro-Gadhafi forces could make themselves very difficult to target from the air and sea yet still exact damage on the rebels. Gadhafi could conceivably retain power for a long time under a no-fly zone.
And what if Gadhafi is killed or driven out of power? The rebel forces are barely a cohesive unit. In the power vacuum that would result from the defeat of their common enemy, they would most likely splinter into fractious tribal alliances battling each other for power. The UN could potentially be creating another Somalia-like region in Africa. It’s arguable that the Libyan people would be any better off without Gadhafi than it is with him.
Granted: Gadhafi would likely kill many of his own civilian people absent UN intervention. But Omar al-Bashir has been doing the same in Sudan. Hundreds of thousands of people in Darfur have been killed by the Janjaweed, yet the US never intervened. These are tragic states of affair that all decent people wish would never occur. But it’s not grounds for the US to get involved in a foreign country’s civil war.