After writing that last post about Libya, I find that my heart has hardened somewhat. A piece of it comes from further reading on the specifics of the situation in Libya, including Friedman’s excellent piece on the two sorts of nations we meet in that part of the world. I find myself having trouble believing that we can, or should, be picking sides in what is fundamentally just another chapter in a fight hundreds of years old. If we are to intervene then we must understand our motives. Merely stopping indiscriminate killing doesn’t cut it. That would (as pointed out by Al Jazeera) necessitate intervention in Gaza among other places.
So we need a plan. A coherent reason that differentiates Libya from, say, Rwanda. To date, I haven’t seen one.
More broadly though, as I considered, I realized that there was a gap in my mind between ‘launching cruise missiles’ and ‘killing people.’ They are, in fact, one and the same. We anesthetize ourselves from the reality by hiding behind technology. We think it’s somehow not murder to lob a few bombs over the wall to settle down those noisy neighbors. In reality, I think that the ethics of murder are the same – whether you do it with your own hands or not. If we leverage technology in the act – does that really change the fact that we’re choosing to orphan children and create widows?
Now let me be clear: There are cases where killing is justified. Self defense is the classic one, and national interest is not far behind. I’m no doe-eyed softie about these things. I’ve said for a while that what we invade, we should occupy. Furthermore, I’m eternally grateful to our service men and women for what they’re willing to do. I think we owe them better reasons than have been offered so far on Libya when we ask them to kill on our behalf.
I don’t think that our interests, self-defending or otherwise, are clear enough to for us to kill people in Libya. If the interest was always there, and if this is merely our excuse to do what we’ve wanted to do for 30 years, I suppose that’s an example of why I’ll never make a living as a politician.
On a vaguely related note, if you read and agree with the NY Times, but you get all incensed about Fox News, you should check out Al Jazeera. If, on the other hand, you listen to Fox News and get all aggravated by the NY Times, go check out Al Jazeera. It would do us all good to realize that both “sides” of the American media agree on 95% of the narrative. Looking at the international news makes this abundantly clear.