Another chapter of the Arab Spring concluded with Khadhafi’s death. The US played a significant financial role in tumbling his regime. We lost no troops and avoided political turmoil by putting no boots on the ground. There are important lessons that can be learned, such as the use of counterterrorism exercises and technology as opposed to flesh and blood to win wars. We should study and learn how to enhance our ability to effect regime change without risking the lives of military personnel. Khadhafi is like many other dictators, including Saddam Hussein, he needed to be removed for the sake of the people. Hopefully, our future military exercises will be based on such humanitarian principles and not on political expediency or the agendas of our foreign allies.
Sec. of State Clinton’s visit to Libya on last week highlighted the success of NATO’s mission to oust Mommar Khadhafi. Sure, NATO and the allies claim that they were simply there to “protect civilians”, and yes they did do that, but that protection was entirely one-sided. Make no mistake, Operation Unified Protector had one goal- keep Europe’s oil flowing (79% of Libyan oil exports went to EU countries). Russian, Middle Eastern, and Chinese media are calling out NATO's pretense of "protecting civilians", but you don't see much pickup in Western sources. Interesting considering how many of those same sources derided the war in Iraq as blatant oil grab by the US. Never mind that we get the majority of our oil from domestic sources and nearby Canada, Mexico, & Venezuela; and even now, Iraq is a distant 5th in exporting crude to the US.
Khadhafi was no friend to the West, even with the overtures he made since Operation Desert Shield, so it wasn’t a difficult decision to side with the rebels. Especially when providing them with enough support to defeat a dictator they had no real shot at otherwise overthrowing meant that the US could then extract demands of the new government by way of infrastructure and oil development contracts.
I can tell you in all confidence that the military side of NATO wants to call the mission a success and go home. The only reason that it is ongoing is because the politicians in Brussels and political pressure from Allied governments wanted to make sure that they don’t end up with egg on their face if Khadhafi somehow mounted a decent insurgency. There is also the possibility that the anti Khadafi coalition fragments and the militias start fighting each other for power. It is hard to claim you are “protecting civilians” when you stand by as your recent allies rack up the collateral damage. You also want to make sure your recent investments in an under developed oil producing nation are fully secured before you move in.
A calculated move to be sure, but it begs a question on the issue of morality. The US has long been lambasted for playing ‘world police’ and we have done nothing to discredit that claim when we so frequently find leaders to oust and countries to occupy out of sheer economic convenience. And what can we say about the precedent set by our killing of Osama Bin Laden? Retribution was surely coming Osama’s way but by our actions as leaders of the free world have we suggested that when we have issues with people around the world that we just kill them? Reports coming out of Libya have stated that Khadhafi was wounded and was being taken alive so that he could stand trial but then took a bullet to the head during a firefight. While very highly plausible, I have my doubts. All in all I do not believe it is right for the US to help overthrow regimes for no other reason than that it has deemed it politically, or economically expedient.
Armstrong Williams is author of the brand new book Reawakening Virtues. See him at RightSideWire.com and listen daily on Sirius Power 128, 7-8 p.m. and 4-5 a.m., Monday through Friday.