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Politics Why are we killing people in Libya?

Discussion in 'Tilted Philosophy, Politics, and Economics' started by genuinemommy, Feb 19, 2016.

  1. genuinemommy

    genuinemommy Moderator Staff Member

    Saw a headline today about recent US air strikes in Libya that killed 40 people.
    And I'm left wondering if these specific 40 people were that much of a threat to American lives.

    Why are we involved in Libya's tumultuous internal strife, again?

    What steps can a civilized and peace-loving people take against extreme Islamist insurgents?
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
  2. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    I don't have an answer, but I can repeat/paraphrase what a lot soldiers and military leaders say & have said regarding fighting the Islamic terrorists:

    War is a lot easier when the enemy is wearing a uniform.
     
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  3. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    This is not an easy question. I suppose if it were easy it would be solved, and then people wouldn't be dropping bombs on each other.

    I think for a start your premise is flawed, in that I'm not entirely convinced that Americans are a peace loving people. Individually, sure, probably most of them. But as a nation? I don't think you get to have the biggest military in the world and more civilian owned guns than actual civilians, and also call yourselves peace loving. I don't think those two things jive.

    Setting that aside, Libya seems to be kind of this latest adventure in Dropping Bombs On Brown People For Freedom. And I guess that's a pretty inflammatory way to frame it but that's just how it looks to me, y'know? And these things never end well. The countries being liberated always seem to end up worse than they were before. Say what you will about Saddam and there is a hell of a lot to say, but he was still a damned sight better than Daesh. Even that name seems a bit silly. Like, we call them Daesh because apparently this is more offensive than calling them ISIS. As if what some dude on the internet calls them is going to have a tangible impact on them at all. But I guess in absence of anything better...?

    So I don't know. I mean, it seems like a good portion of the Arab world is pretty fucked up right now. And dropping bombs on them doesn't seem to help. So maybe we should try not dropping bombs on them? But the problem is that people are doing horrific things to each other, and they're going to continue to do that now. And it does seem like that needs to be contained and combatted. Except we don't seem to be very good at that.

    I always thought the war on terror was a bad idea. Like, terrorism as a concept doesn't really seem like something you can declare war on. It's not as if we're going to bomb enough terrorists and then the head of terror is going to wave the white flag. Terrorists aren't some foreign species we can exterminate. And using violence against people who are already willing to sacrifice their lives for a cause doesn't seem to be having much of a deterrent effect. What's the end game here?

    Maybe I'm just naive. I'm sure someone is going to accuse me of that, if not here than somewhere. But just bombing them doesn't seem like a very effective thing to do.

    I feel like things are sort of destined to get much worse in the middle east before they can have any real hope of getting better. That might not have been the case before but now that all sense of order and structure has been destroyed there doesn't seem to be a way to build it back up again without going through some period of strife.

    This whole topic just makes me sad.

    I feel like I should note that this post was my third attempt at saying something coherent about this. I'm reading it again and it still doesn't really manage to say anything meaningful. I have no answers. Mostly just sadness.
     
    Last edited: Feb 19, 2016
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  4. Chris Noyb

    Chris Noyb Get in, buckle up, hang on, & don't criticize. Donor

    Location:
    Large City, TX
    Deposing a brutal dictator looks good on paper and sounds good in theory. The problem is how to fill the void in a good way that will actually last. Peoples who are used to order, even under a brutal dictator, sometimes don't know how handle freedom and democracy (that's assuming they were actually achieved). There are always people just as evil the ousted dictator ready to take advantage of the chaos. They might do so through force, they might do so pretending to support democracy.

    It makes me think of the terms "the lesser of two evils" and "sleeping with the enemy." The US might have no choice but to support a new leader that is known to be not much better than the ousted leader. The same applies to organizations. We supported the Taliban, and other radical militant groups, in order to drive the Russians out of Afghanistan. It worked. But those radical groups obtained a certain of amount of prestige, influence, and power (PIP), not to mention the weapons we gave them.

    They use that PIP to recruit and grow in power, and gain control over more areas. They're able to enforce the Islamic laws as they interpret them. And there isn't much we can do about it as the radical ideas spread.

    The world is always going to have religious extremists. Also keep in mind not all of those "religious" leader are acting in the name of Allah; some of them are simply bloodthirsty and/or want the PIP. There will always be people who see joining them as a much better alternative to what life otherwise holds for them. Even if a democracy is established in a country such as Libya or Iraq or Afghanistan, some people will get left behind. Elections to them will mean the same poverty and hopelessness as they had under a dictator. The idea of taking radical action, actually doing something that can be seen and felt, has great appeal. Doing so in the name of religion and the promise of spiritual rewards makes it even more appealing.

    What can be done to stop the terrorist is the billion dollar question.

    Mentioning money, let's be honest, the US is interested in stabilizing those countries for oil production. Somebody very important (I'll try to find the proper quote and attribution later) once said something along the lines of, "We wouldn't be in Iraq if they were growing broccoli."
     
  5. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    Location:
    The Windy City
    I'm not sure that this is involvement in Libya's internal strife again. If-- and that's a big if-- the Defense Department is telling us the truth that the target was a Daesh training camp, that is.

    I have no interest in the US getting mired in Libya's internal strife at this point, though I think it was a mistake for us-- and the rest of the UN Security Council-- not to be more active and forceful in ensuring that Khadafi's ouster transitioned into a stable, reasonably democratic government. Just as it was a mistake for us not to ensure more active and forceful support of systemic transition in other countries during the "Arab Spring." All of which, of course, were deeply affected by the disastrous mistakes we made in Iraq. We obviously had no business going into Iraq when we did under the Sith Lords administration of 2000-2008, but if we were going to go in, we should have been absolutely certain to tolerate no rioting, looting, or other kinds of unrest in the aftermath of taking down Saddam Hussein, and our first, second, and third priorities should all have been an immediate and massive push to reconstruct basic Iraqi infrastructure, and ensure that people maintained or gained a decent basic quality of life during the formation of the transitional government (which also should've been formed more democratically, and less by installing puppets friendly to American corporate interests). We should have started Marshall Planning the fuck out of Iraq before the dust even settled. We let the whole thing devolve into chaos and factionalism instead, and then we sat back and let that shit spread. The clusterfuck in Syria, the other marginally less serious clusterfuck in Libya, the ungodly and vastly barbaric and cruel clusterfuck that is Daesh-- that's pretty much all ultimately on us.

    Of course, there's no going back now. Only forward, if we can. We probably need to stay out of the fighting in Libya and Syria as much as possible, and out of the devolution of chaos into Autocracy II: The Autocracy Strikes Back in Egypt.

    But Daesh has to be fought. There's nothing else for it. Terrorism-- real terrorism, not just Conservative doublespeak for brown people you don't agree with-- can't be tolerated, and a regime built on slavery, institutionalized rape, mass murder, brutal torture, and theocracy at the point of the sword just can't be permitted to exist. Unfortunately, there is simply no clean and morally unambiguous way to conduct such a fight.

    The older I get, the less I believe that, ultimately, there can be such a thing as truly ethical warfare. No matter the excellence or the "purity" of the cause, inevitably, the innocent get killed, the guilty get killed in ways nobody really should be killed, vast numbers of lives are ruined, and things and places of beauty and ancientry are destroyed. That doesn't mean that we should never fight. Unfortunately, sometimes it's worse not to fight than to fight. But I think we need to be much choosier about when we pick up our weapons, when we commit to entering into a struggle with an intent to win it. Nobody has ever won a war with clean hands.

    I think it would be much clearer the degree to which Daesh must be resisted with commitment to total victory over them, had we not so thoroughly fucked everything up that we have entered into militarily or paramilitarily or through "black ops" efforts over the past 15-25 years minimum, maybe since WWII. We have consistently lacked foresight, lacked compassion for civilian life, and lacked nuanced and complex plans that didn't focus on and end with how to smash stuff real good.
     
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  6. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    That's a nice thing to say, but how do we do that? The west does not have a great track record in ensuring stable regime changes in the middle east. Or, uh, anywhere else for that matter.

    Again: how? How do you prevent rioting, looting and unrest during the collapse of order and government in a nation, short of martial law? How do you do that and also increase standards of living and implement democratic reform? How do you form a democratic government with a people who have little to no interest in democracy?

    These are all fantastic ideals. I agree that this is how it should work. But, y'know, I also think nobody should ever go hungry and puppies should live forever. Just because it sounds nice doesn't really mean it's practical.



    But isn't Daesh a problem now pretty much entirely because we said this about the last guys?
     
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  7. redravin

    redravin Cynical Optimist Donor

    Location:
    North
    This is probably the best piece I've seen on the history and who is killing who,

     
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  8. ASU2003

    ASU2003 Very Tilted

    Location:
    Where ever I roam
    Libya has oil. Libya's former leader Qaddafi wanted to switch to getting paid in gold for the oil. The oil cartel and world economists didn't want that idea taking off, so he had to go. There wasn't a grand plan for how to create a peaceful Western liberal country once he was removed, and with fundamentalist Islam being so prevalent there and in the region, any democratically elected people will belong to the religion and will start implementing religious laws. They will also not really care too much if the passionate and violent sects does "bad" stuff to the opposition and people who don't share their religious views.

    For some reason, Europe and other countries have gotten out of the habit of taking over new lands and conquering them. I would like to see the immigrants/refugees get educated and adopt to the European way of doing things, then go back and create a European style country with European laws and protection.

    The military, State Dept, FBI, and others are worried that those who want to do harm to Americans or convince those already here to carry out attacks, and they should be eliminated where they are to stop them. So, that is probably the explanation for why they were targeted.
     
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  9. Levite

    Levite Levitical Yet Funky

    Location:
    The Windy City
    If I knew, I would've said. But I think it highly unlikely that there simply is no way. It would probably help if the UN weren't a joke.

    There was martial law. The problem is that we didn't do much to enforce it early on, unless our troops were under direct threat. And we devoted most of our efforts to securing oil fields, hunting down Saddam regime survivors, and looking for "WMDs" that our Administration knew weren't there to be found, because our Administration invented them out of whole cloth.

    We defeated the Iraqi forces in like a couple of days. We had not yet wasted billions upon billions of dollars in a WMD snipe hunt and in trying to rein in devolving chaos. There is no good reason we couldn't have responsibly enforced martial law and immediately begun on a massive reconstruction process to fix all the shit we blew up in less than a week, while putting together a reasonable transitional government, perhaps headed by some former lawmakers and legal scholars, rather than by a corporate plutocrats.

    The notion that responsible and ethical behavior simply isn't "practical" is just a cop-out. Anything can be practical if there is motivation and support to prioritize it. It seems much more practical to me than wasting our time on mythical WMDs and setting up ways for oil companies and mercenary corporations and whatnot to line their pockets.

    Right, except that the last guys were a case of crying wolf, and now we're screwed because there's an actual wolf, and nobody wants to gear up and fight it, because they're tapped out from the last wolf hunt that turned out to be bullshit.
     
  10. martian

    martian Server Monkey Staff Member

    Location:
    Mars
    Shit in one hand, wish in the other...

    Martial law that's selectively enforced isn't really martial law. "Selectively controlled anarchy" would be a better description in my mind.


    Framing this as a simple question of ethics presupposes that there is an obvious ethical course of action. From where I'm sitting it seems like western powers meddling in the middle east causes nothing but strife and bloodshed. How, then, can I consider more such meddling to be ethical?

    Star Trek nailed this shit down in the sixties, man. Messing with people in an attempt to force your ideals on them does not end well. The blood being shed now is on our hands but taking action to prevent it is de facto presupposing that we're not just going to make things worse.

    "We just need to bomb these terrorists, and then everything will be fine."

    Forgive my skepticism. What comes after Daesh?