Monday, March 21, 2011

The Reality Of Libya

For those of you who have never seen it, and who really want to understand why we are participating in the Libyan fiasco, I recommend the movie “Wag The Dog”.

The intervention in Libya has nothing to do with oil. It has nothing to do with sparing human suffering. It has nothing to do with deposing a lunatic despot.

It has everything to do with geography and the political realities of several European heads of state.

Why have France, England and Italy united in supporting this effort?

Why, despite the fact that Germany voted against the motion in the UN Security Council, did German Prime Minister, Angela Merkel, subsequently back the vote? “Speaking after a meeting in Berlin with regional leaders of her party, the Christian Democratic Union (CDU), Merkel said: 'It was important to the participants that we should wish success on the mission as a whole.'
She said the Security Council resolution was 'now ours as well.' “

The fact of the matter is that Europe has suffered for years from the migration of displaced Arabs into the European Economic Community.

France, in particular, has sought to enforce by law restrictions against traditional muslim clothing.

European countries, with their enlightened access to social safety nets, have been exploited by middle-eastern immigrants.

In this respect, they are no different than those in our country who seek to restrict the benefits to undocumented immigrants from countries mostly south of our own border.

However, in Europe, the migratory flow is even more threatening because it carries with it a cultural, religious and political undercurrent that has given rise to terrorist threats. Many of those who have migrated to Europe, even with initially good motives, eventually become disillusioned and fertile ground for radicalization.. This is even more true in the current economic situation than it was previously.


The strong pressure from the French and the Italians was, in reality a direct response to a perceived reality. Libya is not a “country” in the conventional sense. It is essentially a tribal culture. There are multiple loyalties, all geared to survival and local dominance. In this respect it is analogous to Afghanistan.

Quaddafi has substantial military and financial resources. Without intervention, the opposition would have most likely failed. However, those local leaders and their followers who opposed him would know that they had to migrate.

Their next home – a European country.

In addition to the financial burden that they would place on an already overstrained social safety net system, there is the uncertainty associated with the future ideological commitments of such migrants.

Thus, from a purely self-centered analysis of the consequence of a Libyan meltdown, our European allies decided that the Libyan revolt had to be contained.

However, they lacked the financial and military capacity, as well as the legitimacy to do it alone.

Markers were called in.

By installing a no-fly zone they have achieved their primary objective of  forestalling a massive migration of potentially disruptive Arab refugees into Europe. Hope was given to the insurgents. Quaddafi’s suppression of the insurgaency was thwarted.

Ultimately, European interests have benefitted.. Ultimately, American taxpayers are footing the bill.

The remaining question is, “What is the end game?”.

I postulate that it is not getting rid of Quadaffi or the triumph of the insurgents.

Rather, I see two possible outcomes.

The first, and most desirable, is a negotiated settlement. Such would allow both parties a graceful exit, a partition of the oil profits that was mutually beneficial and neutralization of the role of Libya as a terrorist state in the foreseeable future.

The second, and far less desirable outcome, would be a partition of the country.

However, given the lack of any real identity as a “country” this would ultimately devolve into as much a problem as the current situation.

The current goal for Americans is to realize that, first, we must start making other countries foot the bill for actions from which they, and not we, benefit.

Second, we must truly put America first – not as a military power - but as a realization of what can be the best part of the human spirit.

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