President Obama has joined the conservative governments in Britain, France and Italy in escalating the Libyan War with the use of American drones and British military advisers. If the U.S./NATO intervention succeeds in the near-term ousting of Qaddafi, most Americans will cheer and forget about Libya all over again. But if the war turns into a quagmire, it is an extremely dangerous course.
Only 39 percent of Americans disapprove of the U.S. course in Libya while 45 percent disapprove. [New York Times, April 22, 2011] That’s a sharp reversal from a CBS poll in March, which registered 50 percent approval and 29 percent disapproval. Those numbers will fluctuate with the news.
If Obama and his allies “win” by destroying the Qaddafi family regime, they will inherit a country with virtually no civil society, political parties, or infrastructure, leaving decentralized tribes at the core of the society. The future will be costly and unpredictable. If the U.S. and NATO are unable to destroy Qaddafi, sooner or later they will have to join the global call for “negotiations now”, and risk damage to the U.S. superpower reputation.
The best summary is perhaps from the Chinese People's Daily, criticizing the Western coalition for going beyond UN Mandate 1735. “Just let them agonize there in Libya,” the paper declared, “No matter what happens to Qaddafi, a chaotic Libya will become an unshakeable burden to the West forever.” [New York Times, March 23, 2011].
Hayden Speaks in Vancouver for American War Resister, Against Libyan War
Appearing at a support event for American war resister Rodney Watson in Vancouver, Tom Hayden asked Canadians to question their government’s leading role in the current Libyan war. “It’s a good thing that the Canadian government is pulling 2,800 troops out of Afghanistan by this December, along with other NATO countries, but it appears that the Canadians now are shouldering the NATO burden in Libya,” Hayden said April 20. Canadian general, Lt.-Gen. Charles Bouchard is commanding the NATO no-fly zone operation over Libya, where 590 Canadians are engaged in air and carrier-based sorties.
Canadian anti-war activists and Member of Parliament Libby Davies pledged greater support for Watson, who lives in sanctuary provided by the First United Church of Vancouver. He served one tour in a bomb-detection unit in Iraq before deciding to refuse a second tour required under the Pentagon’s stop-loss program.
During the Afghanistan War, 155 Canadians were killed and 1,859 were wounded, at a taxpayer cost of CAD $22 billion.