On my way out of the local co-op bakery, I noticed a vet standing at an Iraq Veterans Against the War information table. I wanted to make a small donation. “What do you think about the US bombing inside Libya yesterday?” I asked him. He grimaced, explaining that veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are already being redeployed when they have not even healed from serious brain injuries, post-traumatic stress and military sexual trauma. I grimaced.
I was disturbed and surprised by how quickly bombs were dropped after Obama said we would not send troops. (Aren’t pilots troops?) I wrestled with events in my mind. On one hand, Qaddafi’s strikes against his own people had to be stopped. Under the Clinton administration, we did nothing to stop the 1994 massacre of 800,000 mostly Tutsis in Rwanda. Was this any different? Shouldn’t we do something quickly before the numbers mount? How many deaths does it take before we name it genocide?
On the other hand, military interventions are never as brief or as successful as the commander-in-chief and the Pentagon promise. Strikes sound quick and easy. But strikes are bloody and lead to lasting wars.
Are we targeting Libya due to the fact that it provides 2% of the world’s daily oil supply? Probably. Conoco has 3.3% of its production there. Does that negate the humanitarian concern even if the latter is a cover for protecting oil deposits?What about all the other dictators we’ve ignored who are responsible for massacres and/or rapes of thousands of women and girls and/or torture and repression of their own people? Mugabe in Zimbabwe, Thein Sein in Burma (Myanmar), Berdimuhamedov in Turkmenistan, Lukashenko in Belarus. Why haven’t we intervened in those countries?
Am I a pacifist? Ideally, I would like to say yes. I believe that military actions cause severely disproportionate suffering and death not just among civilians, but among military personnel as well. In actuality, I’m not a pacifist. I believe in trying to stop the killing and brutality of any and all populations being victimized. I ask myself what good is our absurdly inflated war budget if not for basic humanitarian interventions?
Either way, the toll of war is way too high. IVAW is calling for “Operation Recovery: Stop the Deployment of Traumatized Troops.” Before we send any more marines to bomb Libya, someone should ask IVAW what they think. Nobody knows the real toll of war as much as those who have been deployed before.
What do you think?