There seems to be a great deal of fuss about our activities in Libya, and there should be. Once again, we're involved in a very volatile place in the world, with the thinnest of reasons ethically, morally and legally.
Yet once again, here we are, spending money we don't have for reasons we can't really explain. I'm on the side of those who say, "Enough!" But I do have a few issues with at least some of the dissenters and their reasoning.
Number one, as to moral and ethical need, we have no more business in Libya than we do in Iraq. Yet many of the people who are most upset about Libya, where we have no ground troops, act as if pulling our thousands of troops from Iraq would be tantamount to treason, and if not treasonous, at least wrong. Iraq will now be a far more dangerous place for us when we leave than it ever was before. The Shiite Muslims aligned with Iran who were seriously suppressed under Saddam's rule are now the true power in Iraq. Anyone see this as a good thing?
Under previous administrations, those opposed to war in Iraq raised similar arguments as to legality. Now, the people who supported all efforts in Iraq, who felt the president needed the power to make decisions, all of a sudden have an issue with that. You don't think politics has anything to do with that, do you?
Gosh, golly, I sure hope not. I'd hate to think that such staunch supporters of all things military would have a change of heart based solely on what party is in power and who holds the presidency.
Now with Afghanistan there's a little difference there for sure. Our original reason for attacking Afghanistan was to get the guy who killed more than 3,000 Americans in a cowardly and vicious attack on the United States. Those reasons were good reasons, and I don't care who was president, what party was in power, that retaliatory war would have been waged, and rightfully so. OK, that being said, we won, we got Osama bin Laden, so when did our effort to get bin Laden become another of these crazed efforts at "nation building"?
In my opinion, mission accomplished, it's time to bring the troops home.
But a funny thing is happening. Those same people complaining about our bombing in support of NATO in Libya are the same people that keep making the point that we need to stay in Afghanistan, the exact same people who accuse anyone who suggests otherwise as being weak and, God forbid, Liberal!
However, once again politics seems to be in play with military action, those same people now want to know when we'll get out of Afghanistan. (Funny how none of them felt that way before an opposing party member became president. Even funnier, nobody seems to be talking about Iraq much, and that's the place we invaded WITHOUT cause!)
My own opinion from an admittedly limited experience with warfare is this; any war lasting 10 years is a lost cause, a stalemate at best. So how many more Americans need to die before we get out? We got bin Laden, so let's come home, have a great big victory parade and a party for the troops, and start paying off the debts we incurred from both wars. The deficit will be gone.
How come every discussion about money and the deficit and our economy centers on programs for the poor and elderly, but there's never any discussion at all from these same people about pulling our troops from Europe and South Korea?
South Korea is a United Nations problem, and always has been. Europe, the last I looked, is now a totally democratic and free continent, the "Iron Curtain" is down, Russia has pulled back to its original borders, and every reason we ever had for keeping those troops there are gone. Of course we might have to change tax law to actually encourage any American company to build anything here so all of these servicemen and women will have jobs, but it could happen. I'd almost bet that the people who won't discuss any of this while proposing those cuts to the poor and elderly would actually get some support for this from the people they're usually fighting with.
We are also currently waging a war on drugs, to little effect, and it's time for another approach. Once again, any war lasting 10 years or more is a lost cause. Maybe we should talk to Portugal, as they seem to have made some serious headway in this area for a lot less money and a lot more effectiveness.
Why are we still in NATO and its main source of arms and money? NATO has no useful purpose to the United States anymore, and by staying in it we are allowing competitors to use more of their own money to out produce us economically as opposed to paying for their own defenses. A good case in point brings us back to Libya. Forget about what you were told, the main reason we're there is because certain NATO countries asked us to be there, specifically the French, who get major portions of their oil from Libya.
Without trying to be too isolationist, when our military adventures in other parts of the world, when our economic support in other parts of the world, is taking place at the expense of our own needs, especially when needed and valuable social programs like Medicare and Social Security are threatened with cuts or elimination due to lack of funding, I say, "No, it's time to reapportion WHERE and WHAT we spend our money on!" That simple deed will eliminate our deficit in jig time, and save the safety net for our seniors.
Paul Christopher is a Dunkirk resident. Send comments to firstname.lastname@example.org