What is interesting about being a member of the Left and going to the antiwar protests is the disparity of opinions one hears between many of the Left's heralded spokespeople and rank and file protesters regarding war. While the latter tends to object to war in an absolute sense, those they listen to object to war in a general sense. That is while the common protester is against every use of force and all wars, many of the speakers from the Left end up opposing most wars and interventions after considering each conflict on a case by case basis. You can easily dig up the documentation of speakers like Noam Chomsky, Howard Zinn, and Chris Hedges who clearly state that they are not absolutists when it comes to being pacifists. In contrast to this are the many conversations I have had with fellow protesters who oppose every squirmish (is this word in the dictionary yet?) with the mantra "violence begets violence."
So what does the Left think about the no-fly zone over Libya? The antiwar protesters who gathered in Lafayette Park outside of the White House on March 19 were split. Most of the regular protesters were against it. However, those carrying Libyan flags were for it. In addition, Chris Hedges, one of the speakers at the protest supported the no-fly zone though not in his speech in front of the White House. I know I support the no-fly zone but I do so conditionally and temporarily. My support depends.
I would like to focus on Hedges' view here because of his very moving and powerful talk, which is based on a book he wrote, entitled War Is A Force That Gives Us Meaning
. If one summarized part of Hedges' view in the words of a famous character from intergalactic history, one would say that force is a path to the dark side. Using force is addictive. Force and addiction leads to suffering. Once we travel down the path of the dark side, forever will it dominate our destiny; consume us it will as it did Obi-Wan's apprentice, and many to America's presidents, as Noam Chomsky would add. In other words, the same action that can be both justified and even necessary leads us to a most treacherous precipice. Because of this, perhaps the last words we would want to hear is "may the force be with us."
So for those on the Left who are supporting the no-fly zone, we must realize that that support must be tenuous and temporary. It must remain conditional and vigilant. For if execution of this no-fly zone strays ever so slightly beyond its definition, then it must be vigorously opposed. And strayed from the definition it has. So as its execution continues, the no-fly zone has morphed into an intervention and we see ourselves as having just died and being dragged down to Hades by a slew of dark angels.
We can add to our suffering the Administration's apologetics for its actions against Libya. It is the same old same old. Obama insists that our nation's intentions are noble and, because of our position in the world, responsible. But as Chomsky and others have observed, Obama's defense is filled with the same old inconsistencies of omission and commission. And if things are not yet dark enough, we now learn that CIA operatives are now on the ground. This raises the questions of when were the operatives placed in Libya and how much did they contribute to the original uprising? In other words, was the CIA drumming up new business for our military that apparently had too much time on its hands?
So we see our intervention in Libya straying from its noble preset course to one that fits an all too familiar mode. To paraphrase Mahmood Mandani in an Aljazeera opinion article
, the goal of the intervention is not its end but its beginning and it goes downhill from when the goal is accomplished. And in the light of our dance in Afghanistan, sometimes accomplishing the stated goal was never meant to be.
Before we finish with where those in the Left who support the no-fly zone will probably end up, we should give a voice to the conservatives on this issue. What should be to the surprise of non one, where conservative criticism exists, it revolves around amoral business criteria. From Tea Party Street we hear that we should not be involved because we can't afford it and this new war will only increase one's taxes and/or the national debt. From those who write, criticisms add to the financial concerns just expressed the new morass we are embracing and the question of what concern is it of ours to interfere in the internal business of another country regardless of how cruelly insane the leader is.
In the light of the conservative criticism, we should welcome the opportunity to participate in a humanitarian intervention--at least one is involving morals in carrying out a decision. However, history and pragmatic concerns tells us how quickly morals can be left out of the decision making loop. In fact, indicators point to the fact that morals no longer play a role in determining our policy in Libya so it is now time to start questioning what Obama is doing. We need to question and then probably move to oppose his Libyan policies because we are stepping off the cliff that the use of force always bring us to. And as it becomes more and more apparent that gravity has taken hold of our travel, those from the Left who initially agreed with the no-fly zone will change their tune.
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