A Fight For Freedom
We are witnesses to history unfolding across the Arab world today, a story of people fighting for their freedom. No more dictators, regardless of what title they call it, no more secret arrests, torture and vanishings and repression in every form. No more of the massive oil wealth being siphoned off to help enrich and prop up totalitarian regimes. These incredibly courageous people are fighting the tyrants with practically no weapons of any kind, and are paying the cost in blood.

Meanwhile we in the west fret and argue about whether we ought to do something, anything, to assist the rebels in Libya in their desperate fight. A comment sent to one of the talking heads on CNN put it bluntly, why can’t we help those people? For if we do not stand for freedom, what in heck DO we stand for?

We so often forget that our own freedom was not granted by the grace of some autocrat, we too had to fight with rifle, cannon and even bayonet. We could not even pay for the gunpowder we needed to press that fight, over two centuries ago. We had foreign assistance in a very big and palpable way – France sent chests of money, weapons, ships and her own sons to fight and die in the battle for our independence, and we had aid from Russia, Spain, even Poland and Germany in that long war. We as a nation have been “burned” in foreign wars before, getting deeply involved in Vietnam and paying in blood for a war that many at home felt was wrong. We have had failed rescue missions and blunders of the first magnitude such as invading Iraq to get weapons of mass destruction which turned out to exist only in Saddam’s mind. We have a record of foreign intervention that has caused many to dislike the USA. But let us not forget that we are capable of being the good guys too.

How would the two world wars have turned out, had the USA simply remained neutral for instance? How many would have died had we kept out longer? Our enemies of those days are today our strongest allies; back in 1944 we had American soldiers fighting German soldiers every day, today they fight side by side against the Taliban and Al Qaeda in Afghanistan, along with French troops and other allies.

Yes we need to have these debates over whether our nation should intervene in the internal affairs of another country. We do believe in national sovereignty; we ought not simply send in troops and planes to any country that has some disorder by any means. On the other hand, we should remember that in our own fight for our freedom, we may well have lost if not for the aid of foreign allies, and that in many cases people fighting against an evil tyrant like Gadhafi need the help of foreign power. To stand by while people are being killed, and let us not play word games, a 3 year old child is not a rebel soldier and yes Gadhafi’s murderous mercenaries are killing man, woman and child, is not being “neutral” it is almost like being an accomplice to the murder. Every day we do nothing, helps the tyrant in his war on his own people.

A no-fly zone would be a good start; air power is a particularly strong element in battle that can tip the balance and Gadhafi knows this. it is why he is using his air power to overcome the rebels as he knows that he cannot trust the army to kill its own people and he has only so many mercenaries. Yes this would mean that we may lose a plane or even some people, but there is always a price for freedom and don’t forget that foreign sons helped pay for our freedom with their blood too, so in a sense we owe it and being the only world superpower are the only nation that CAN really provide help to the rebels in Libya in a meaningful way.

We are warned that a no-fly zone will mean war, that we may end up having to go further, to airstrikes against Gadhafi’s ground forces, perhaps we might even have to send in ground troops because once we commit to the rebels we cannot lose. So be it; some air strikes against Gadhafi’s tanks and artillery would be very helpful to at least level the field for the rebels as the people are poorly armed against tanks, armored cars and artillery not to mention military training, officers and tactics. Supply weapons to the rebels too – we can’t we are told, because of the arms embargo against Libya well that embargo truly in a legal sense applies only the Gadhafi and his government, there is nothing to prohibit sending weapons to the people. They need anti tank and anti-aircraft weapons especially, for a man with a rifle, no matter how brave he is, has little chance against tanks and helicopters.

We are warned that we could end up having to send in ground troops; well yes it may come to that too. I am willing to bet that our troops would overcome the best that Gadhafi can put in the field without much trouble, and our troops could be used in a judicious manner, to help the rebels where they need it the most. We would not need to send in massive armies to be enough to topple the dictator and I doubt that it is necessary at all. The Libyan people do not lack the courage or the manpower, only the heavy weapons, ammunition and air power. If ground troops were needed at all, it would likely only be to protect civilians against a massacre by Gadhafi’s mercenaries. Is that not a noble cause?

While our respective governments fuss and dither, the city of Zawiya has been surrounded by Gadhafi’s henchmen and the civilian population are being slaughtered. Brave free men and women are fighting his killers every day in many different places in Libya. Yes we need to have our debates on whether we should intervene and to what degree, but we must not allow our debates to drag on so long while those freedom fighters are dying.

If I am sounding like a war-monger, then yes I may well be. War is a great evil, but unfortunately sometimes war is the only way to end an even greater evil. At least a war will end, tyranny can go on and on for centuries. One last point will end my political rant here; back in 1945, then president Truman had a moral dilemma over whether he should use his new secret weapons against Japan in an attempt to end the war quickly. He reasoned it out, that as terrible as the effects would be, how much more terrible the cost would be if he should choose not to use them, and how would he face the mothers of those sons who must die in a land battle to take Japan if they found out that he had such powerful weapons but didn’t use them. So we are today faced with a similar dilemma; if we intervene, we may well lose some of our own sons and daughters, we may lose some machines, we will kill Gadhafi’s soldiers and mercenaries and may even kill innocent people by mistakes, but think of what will happen if we do nothing. Gadhafi may well win the war by attrition as he knows the rebels have very little ammunition and he will not likely be gracious in victory, there will be a bloodbath as he punishes everyone he perceives as an enemy. Blood splatters, and by our standing by and doing nothing, some of the splatter from Gadhafi’s butchery will likely be on us.

Another argument we hear is that we do not know whom the rebels are, there may be some evil Al Qaeda or other bad element among them and we cannot put arms in their hands. I will grant that it is possible there may be some among the rebels whom we do not like, but clearly they are not the majority – this is a populist uprising, not some group of fanatic terrorists as Gadhafi claims. If some few of our weapons did end up in the hands of our enemies, it would be a tiny minority, the great majority will go into the hands of freedom fighters who need them and will appreciate them.

I may be a little biased in this case as I have a love of history, and Libya has a very rich history; from the days of ancient Carthage and Rome to the battles of Rommel and Montgomery, many important chapters of history have unfolded in this beautiful country. Libya has some impressive ancient ruins and the incomparable Sahara desert of legend, and I do have an attraction to desert lands. Were I wealthy enough to afford the trip, I would sooner make the trip to see Libya, than I would go to see the great pyramids of Egypt. I hate to see such courageous good people under the heel of a bloodthirsty tyrant and it bothers me that with all our power, we do nothing to help. Let us not do to the Libyans what we did to the equally brave Kurds when our president asked them to rise against Saddam Hussein and then did nothing while they were butchered.

Please email and call your representatives and urge them to intervene in Libya. It is quite literally a matter of life or death, and the death of freedom is not something we should simply stand by and watch.

Usually I don’t mind apologizing if my words should cause anyone offense, however in this case if you are offended by my words – tough. This is what freedom is all about.


~ by Oroblanco on March 10, 2011.

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