As the U.S. naval presence off the coast of Libya increases, and U.S. military intervention seems increasingly likely (the French and Brits are currently in the process of enforcing a No-Fly zone), there is a deafening silence from the American left. Unlike Bush’s military actions in Iraq, there are no cries of ‘blood for oil;’ no accusations that Obama is in the pocket of ‘Big Oil,’ which is especially ironic since Libyan oil production plays a much greater role in U.S. energy demands than does (or did) Iraq.
In a nut, Europe currently buys most of Libya’s crude stock and if the supply is interrupted, Europe will bid up prices for Algerian, Angolan, and Nigerian oil, three of our ten largest suppliers of oil and petroleum products, and thus increase the cost of our oil consumption.
To Obama’s credit, and unlike Bush, he has expressed a desire to abstain from (and does not appear eager to engage in) a military occupation, or for that matter a sustained military intervention which may involve the use of ground troops, but he has specified in no unclear terms:
“Gaddafi must stop his troops from advancing on Benghazi, pull them back from Ajdabiya, Misrata and Zawiyah, and establish water, electricity and gas supplies to all areas. Humanitarian assistance must be allowed to reach the people of Libya … “Let me be clear, these terms are not negotiable … If Gaddafi does not comply … the resolution will be enforced through military action.”
Prima facie justification for the U.S., France, and Britain’s stern stance toward Gaddafi and possible military intervention has been ‘human rights’ or the determination to ‘protect civilians,’ but the human rights situation in Libya certainly does not approximate the horrible state of affairs in Iraq during the Al-Anfal Campaign (1986 – 1989) and in other well documented atrocities. When various conservatives defended the Iraq invasion on similar grounds as those being proffered to defend U.S. involvement in Libya, the reaction on the left was rapid dismissal: It was, we were told, merely a matter of oil and self-aggrandizement on the part of Bush et al.
To end, some clarifications: (1) I did not, nor do I now, support the Iraqi military occupation; (2) I absolutely despised the Bush administration; (3) I have no love for the Obama administration (although, unlike Bush, Obama has yet to misuse grievously U.S. military assets and risk American lives in an undignified military occupation, which, in my book, alone makes him more preferable than Bush); and (3) I recognize the duplicity (Iraq’s imminent use of WMDs against U.S. assets) most likely perpetrated by the Bush administration in finding cause to sway public support in favor of the Iraq invasion and the obvious and notable lack of duplicity on the Obama administration’s part in the Libyan crisis. However, (3) is immaterial to the point intended here, which is that if a Republican (McCain, e.g.) were to take similar actions for similar stated purposes against Libya, the left would likely take every opportunity to impugn the Republican’s motivations. Is my expectation incorrect? If so, why? Further, is this not an instance of political bias in the media? If not, why not?
If the likely forthcoming military intervention in Libya is justified per the humanitarian reasons expressed, and at first blush the media seem to think that it is, is it the case, then, that the Iraqi intervention was also justified for similar reasons? If not, why not?
If the Iraqi intervention was not conducted, as it seems it was not, to secure access to vital Iraqi crude stocks (the Iraqi stocks were not vital) or a similar clear and definable national benefit, can one still justify the intervention? That is, if the Iraqi intervention was committed for the benefit of non-Americans, can it still be justified?
Similarly, if the primary motivation behind the Libyan crisis is not to secure Libyan crude stocks, and instead is to secure human rights, can the forthcoming Libyan intervention be justified?