Thursday, March 17, 2011

U.S. urges U.N. to take military action against Libya

In the Los Angeles Times today, a story was printed about the United States urging the United Nations to get involved in the Libyan Civil War.

Full Story Here by Paul Richter

Proposals for a no-fly zone or other military action have faced strong resistance in recent weeks from traditional U.S. allies, such as Germany, as well as Russia and China. But council members have grown increasingly worried about a humanitarian disaster in Benghazi, and now some U.S. officials are privately expressing confidence that they could win the resolution.

I worry about this. Now, I have no qualms about a country delivering humanitarian aid to a war-stricken nation. I also see no problem with a country aiding one side in a war if that war was just (for instance, defending against genocide). However, I worry about the morality of nation-building. How involved will the effort be? Will these international forces simply aid the rebels in defeating this menace, or will they stick around and force democracy on the people who may not want it?

The easiest response would be that we should at least provide a no-fly zone. But even that is not so easy. Enforcing a no-fly zone requires the use of force. What happens if a US plane gets shot down, or we have to shoot down a Libyan aircraft? At that point, then, it is essentially no different than a full-scale war. Creating a no-fly zone is a roll of the dice, but should we take that chance?

Some have argued that we have nothing to gain by invading Libya. I agree that is true, and I am fine with people having reservations about going to war with the country. However, in this case, I also see attacking the country as justified. We would not be doing this in order to personally gain, we would be doing it to help the people who are being slaughtered. It would be a police action. A perfect corollary would be a mugging. If someone witnessed a mugging, would we blame that person for stepping in and stopping the mugger? And would we blame that person for not doing anything about the situation? Besides telling the authorities, what responsibility should that person have? He would risk his life to help the person being mugged. There is no moral necessity to risk our life to save the person. It would be better to help the person, but it is not wrong to get away from the dangerous situation either.

In the end, I just do not trust these police-actions. We lost many soldiers in Korea and Vietnam, and look at what happened anyway. And in the cases where we have gone all the way and tried to nation-build, the process has been wrought with issues. I just do not see a good end to the situation. Invading would be morally justified, but we are not morally impelled to do so.

Toppling a dictator is the easy part, what to do after is where the real problems begin.


  1. Good synopsis of the situation over in Libya. Not so sure we need another front in the war against terrorism right now. Perhaps we can just let the UN handle it...But wait, that's what we did in Kosovo and what happened it any better?


  2. I think it was better for us. And I think we really have to worry about blowback from these operations. There are a lot of reasons to not get involved, and if the UN is already doing it, the more the reason to stay put and save some money for ourselves.