Web Letters | The Nation

Libya and the Dilemma of Intervention

On the right side

I have been following the Libyan situation on CNNI and Al Jazeera. I really like Al Jazeera! This is not Iraq or Afghanistan, and NATO air strikes are regarded as a necessity by the opposition forces. Libyans know that even precision air attacks risk hitting civilians, but these attacks are the only thing keeping Qaddafi’s artillery and tanks from crushing the opposition. There have been no confirmed reports of civilian deaths due to the air strikes, but there have been two incidents where opposition forces have been accidentally attacked. The basic problem is the lack of forward observers on the ground with the opposition coordinating these attacks.

In Syria, Al Jazeera took some pictures of men in civilian clothes firing pistols at demonstrators. In Bahrain, protesters have been arrested and beaten. Hospitals have also been raided looking for wounded protesters. The same thing in Yemen.

We need to to pull the 5th Fleet out of Bahrain, and our forces from the Arab Middle East. The Awakening movement crosses sectarian lines. If nothing else, it deserves our moral support.

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Apr 10 2011 - 4:08pm

Libya and the Dilemma of Intervention

America can make a difference without going to war

The United States cannot and should not immerse itself in every conflict, but we cannot afford to do nothing either. History has shown that only when America takes the lead have brutality, oppression and genocide ended. It was America whose strength brought down Hitler’s Germany, the Facists in Italy and imperial Japan, and it is because of America that South Koreans breathe the air of freedom every day while their counterparts in the north fight famine and oppression and zero freedom.

It was America that helped bring down the iron curtain of Communism across Europe and when one visits Poland, the Czech Republic, Hungary and many other countries in Europe, we realize that the democracies these countries have and the liberties their people now possess are due in large part to America’s strength of will, and that although America did not have to fire one bullet or drop one bomb in their defense. It was America that helped defeat Russia’s stranglehold on Eastern Europe. It was the Statue of Liberty the protesters in Tianenman Square held high, not the symbols of any other country.

It was America that ended the famine in Somalia and America that helped end genocide in Kosovo. Yes, we made many mistakes in Iraq and Afghanistan, but 50 million people from those countries are able to vote for their leaders for the first time in their history, and although their democracies are imperfect they do not compare with the brutality of Saddam Hussein or the oppression of the Taliban. Thankfully, because of America, young girls in Afghanistan can grow up dreaming about being a lawyer, doctor or business owner instead of being terrorized and made to marry when they are 10 or 11 years old.

Just as with our experience in Vietnam, we cannot and should not let the debacle in Iraq keep us silent and acquiesce to dictatorships around the world. America should have been more forceful with our ally Bahrain and prevented them from beating and killing the protesters. Unfortunately, America is caught in a Sunni-Shia feud that is being exacerbated by Iran who is doing everything it can to export trouble to Gaza, Lebanon, Syria, Bahrain and Saudi Arabia. Iran seeks to destabilize the Middle East, and despite Obama’s hand that was extended in friendship they have refused all overtures from the White House. We cannot prevent Bahrain and Saudi Arabia’s fears about the Shiites destabilizing their regimes until we are firm with Iran—not with the threat of military force but with crippling sanctions that have teeth, even if the Chinese and Russians, for monetary reasons only, refuse to side with America.

Qaddafi’s assets must be frozen and members of his family must be charged along with him with crimes against humanity. Although we should not send troops we should encourage and aid nations from the Arab world and Europe in supplying humanitarian needs to the people. If Qaddafi’s killings go on, the airlifting of arms to the rebels through our allies should take place. The United Nations must make Libya a pariah instead of the prior insanity of allowing Libya to have a seat on the UN Human Rights Council. (Likewise, we should refuse the recent request of Syria to have a seat on the council, as they are a serial violator of human rights.)

Without America there will never be a solution to the Israeli/Palestinian conflict. The genocide in Darfur will not end unless America is involved, and the massive aid that Japan needs will not be possible without America. Whether it is responding to the earthquake in Haiti or the tsunami in Japan, it is America the world looks to for leadership. Oh, there are those who will decry and belittle the term “American exceptionalism,” but the words should convey leadership and strength in the face of oppression, brutality, genocide, natural disasters and famine. Many Americans question why we have to always be the ones who make the greater sacrifices, but the end result in most cases has been a freer and better world, and I fear that if America’s voice ever becomes silent the world will become a far darker place.

Mark Jeffery Koch

Cherry Hill, NJ

Mar 18 2011 - 6:56pm

Libya and the Dilemma of Intervention


The Arab Spring was a surprise to everyone, including the Arabs. It is a good thing, but it will take sometime for Western nations to adjust to this “new reality.” So far, none of the Western participants are putting any boots on the ground in Libya, and they are mandated to protect civilians, not attack them.

A NFZ will require attacks on Libyan aircraft, radar installations and air defense systems. In Air Force parlance, it means precision bombing of specific targets, and not area bombing. However, bombs are a blunt instruments, and there are no guarantees that civilians will not be injured.

I am very leery of this situation. I am Wilsonian, in believing that self-determination means individual nations are responsible for their on fate. A missionary foreign policy would mean that the US would be constantly at war with some dictator. Where are we going to stop?

Pervis James Casey

Riverside, CA

Mar 18 2011 - 5:24pm