Showdowns With Evil Regimes: Sidelines or Intervention?
Should America militarily intervene in situations like the current affair in Libya? In those situations, should our intervention goals include taking out the current national leader? Should the “land of the free, home of the brave” stand idly by and watch evil regimes oppress and murder others? These are tough questions, but each scenario is different and decisions are possible.
It appears the current argument will prove once again that when it comes to war, or other military actions, Americans are not necessarily divided along the usual boundaries of their ideologies. On an individual basis, Americans view war through an entirely different lens than other issues.
Say “war” and emotions run strong. In matters of life and death, even well reasoned arguments have trouble gaining traction against emotions. In the case of Libya, we are already engaged in Iraq and Afghanistan and cannot seem to get out. There is concern that Libya may end up the same. It seems the norm for modern military engagements; they never end. On the other hand, Qaddafi is a terrorist and a murderer; how can we not help the Libyan people and perhaps remove that monster from the planet?
Categorically, arguments either for, or against military interventions are either moral, legal, national security, or financial/economic. Consider the following examples:
Morality examples: 1) it is immoral to stand by while the leader of that nation continues to slaughter the oppressed people of his country. 2) It is immoral for America to think it can force democracy on other nations; who do we think we are?
Legal examples: 1) the Constitution makes it clear that the Executive branch must seek the approval of Congress before entering into military conflicts. 2) On the President’s order the USA is acting as an agent of the United Nations and thus does not need Congressional approval for military intervention.
National security examples: 1) the leaders of that nation must be stopped. They have destabilized their region; they are supporting terrorism and affecting the national security of the USA. 2) Intervention into the affairs of that nation would cause the people there and other people in the region to hate us more, creating an environment ripe for the development of more terrorism.
Financial/economic examples: 1) the evil regime of that nation must be stopped. The instability the regime is bringing to that region of the world could put the USA in an economic crisis from which we may never recover. 2) We cannot afford to intervene in the affairs of that nation. We already have a budget crisis and debt may soon cause the value of the dollar to collapse. The cost of military operations there would break the bank.
Those examples may resemble a dichotomy of choices. That is indeed the point. Most of us will say “yes” to military intervention in one example, and “no” in another, but all must be considered. Decisions based on the knee-jerk reactions of the past, or the more modern form of choice based on categorical political ideologies will not work. Presently we have to make our decisions of where we stand (and the actions we support) on the basis of current priorities and a careful review of the proverbial “big picture.” Clearly, individual priorities must guide individual decisions. I offer the four example arguments (above) as a suggestion for your prioritization process.
Now I will go out on the limb and make declarations that are sure to bring me criticism:
I place national security at the top of my list. If national security is clearly at stake I favor military intervention sooner, rather than later. My reasoning is simple: I do not want threats to our security to go unchecked or achieve a foothold that makes them stronger. We cannot be a nation that inspires others to strive for liberty if we have lost our own.
Financial/economic factors are my second priority. When America can afford to help oppressed people achieve freedom from their suffering I believe we must do so. However, if our financial platform is shaky and we risk financial failure, we must first save ourselves. We cannot help the oppressed if we become destitute.
For me, moral or legal arguments (for or against intervention) are last in priority. To say “yes” to intervention, the cause must be just, morally inspired, and legally authorized. But, when Americans are at risk of losing our liberty, either by financial disaster or a major breach of security (and possibly both), I am always going to stand for protection of our liberty above all other choices. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” are words that define the special American experience. Survival of the cradle of liberty must come first.
As I write this, the situation in Libya is in the balance. President Obama has authorized (and forces have accomplished) a no-fly zone, acting under U.N. authority. Though countless lives have likely been saved, it now appears that the killing continues on some level, carried out by Qaddafi’s murdering mercenaries on the ground.
Our President has declared that our military involvement will be short-term. In our present financial dilemma, I don’t think we can even afford the price of all the cruise missiles that were used in the first day. Those are just a small piece of the total cost picture. However, if the goals in Libya can be achieved swiftly and withdrawal immediately follows, I will withhold any negative judgment. Otherwise, I will angrily argue in favor pulling the plug.
Even thinking about letting oppressed people down hurts; it makes me feel cold and somewhat ashamed. We are Americans; we should feel a moral obligation to defend and protect the innocent and oppressed. What if: what if God has appointed the USA to that obligation? The possibility does give me pause. But, reasoning it through, if in this present age God wants us to accept the role of executor of His will, He is able to lead, direct and make provision for the mission, though we may never see His hand in the matter. He managed to get Jonah into Nineveh. I believe that in the absence of the proverbial hand-writing on the wall, we must trust God to accomplish what is right with Him (even if we are wrong) and act on our own inspiration. Indeed, that inspiration might come from Him.
Nobody stopped the slaughter in Darfur or Rwanda; it is a shame, a crime, a heartbreaking episode in the history of the human experience. Such tragedy is too painful to bear unless we have faith that a love, power and purpose beyond our understanding is in control.
Our nation is great; our people are generous and inspired to good works, but in my opinion we must first solve our internal problems with runaway federal spending and national debt that is threatening our future as a free nation. “Life, Liberty and the Pursuit of Happiness” have a cost here at home. It is a price that we must always maintain the ability to pay, or lose all hope of ever helping others.