In reading on the Questions and Observations website tonight, I came across a new article titled “Libya: Are there “good” civilians and “bad” civilians?” Our friends over there do a great job of pointing out the ugly side of “kinetic military actions” when it comes to rationalizing civilian deaths. No matter how smart our smart-weapons might be, it is incredibly difficult to avoid civilian deaths, especially when we are attacking command centers located near civilian populations.
While reading the article, it made me think about the latest controversy over our involvement with Libya – who are the rebels we’re supporting? Reports have come out over the past two weeks that there might be al-Qaeda fighters or sympathizers fighting along side the rebels to overthrow the Libyan leader. By providing the rebels with air cover, we very well may be providing military support to those who we are currently engaged in a global war against. As our friend over at The BoBo Files asks, “[Why are we] wasting money, time, and precious weaponry to support those who hate us?”
If you recall my article yesterday, wars that are based on humanitarian issues are full of gray areas. Engaging in battle only half-way can create more problems than there originally was. In the case with Libya, we’re fighting to protect people seeking freedom from a leader that has vowed to show no mercy after he is victorious in repelling the attacks. As we know from our own history, Civil Wars tend to be quite ruthless and kill more people than conventional wars against outside forces.
The old saying of “the enemy of my enemy is my friend” holds true in this case. If there are al-Qaeda members or supporters fighting along side the rebels, then we are on the same side during this conflict (since Obama has stated the US policy is to see Gaddafi leave power). We are not in a position to tell the rebels, “We support what you are doing, but can you please tell those particular fighters to lay down their guns and go away because they don’t like us?”
Once Gaddafi leaves office, the issue in Libya changes. What role (if any) will these al-Qaeda members or supporters have in the forming of the new government? Will they still adhere to the terrorist groups larger message of pushing Western influence out of the region, even though it was Western power that supported them? Could our actions actually change the dynamics between the West and al-Qaeda to the point where the terrorism activities might come to an end? Will Libya become the next Afghanistan? The answers to these questions won’t be known until there is a regime change. All we can do is hope for the best while preparing for the worst.
Whomever came up with the term “kinetic military action” needs to be kept away the speech writers and journalists. Just use the term “armed conflict” if you don’t wish to say “war” or “military engagement.”