It is not hard to understand why the idea of military intervention in support of the Libyan rebels battling against the Gadhafi regime is tempting to some Americans. Responsible for both the Lockerbie bombing and the Berlin disco bombings that killed both American soldiers and civilians, there is little that is not reprehensible about Muammar Gadhafi. Nor has there ever been even a pretense of democratic legitimacy about the government of The Brother Leader and Guide of the First of September Great Revolution of the Socialist People’s Libyan Arab Jamahiriya, which came to power in a conventional third-world “colonel’s coup” in 1969.
If it were 1986, it would not be unreasonable to assert an American national security interest in helping take down the dictator that President Ronald Reagan once described as “the mad dog of the Middle East.” At that time, Gadhafi was funding left-wing revolutionary groups around the world, including some in the United States, and engaging in attacks on Americans and American interests. But it is a quarter of a century later, diplomatic relations have been more or less normalized between the Libyan and United States governments and there are no legitimate American interests involved anymore.
As Americans learned from France in the ’50s, Israel in the ’60s, Iran in the ’70s, Kosovo in the ’90s, and Iraq and Afghanistan since the turn of the century, there is no such thing as gratitude among nations. To paraphrase Lord Palmerston: Nations have interests, not friends. While the equalitarian notion of people everywhere yearning to breathe free and thereby demanding democracy may be emotionally compelling, it is totally nonsensical, Secretary of State Clinton’s recent assertion of a universal “freedom to connect” supported by the U.S. government notwithstanding.
What appeals to the emotion is seldom what makes sense when viewed from a rational perspective. The State Department’s uplifting words are an unfortunate and untimely example of the U.S. government speaking directly against the American national interest, as can be seen from this recent report concerning Saudi Arabia:
Top oil exporter Saudi Arabia has banned all protests, marches and strikes in the kingdom after small protests continued over the weekend in the oil-rich Eastern province towns of al-Ahsa and Qatif, interior ministry said Saturday, according to state-owned channel al Ekhbariyah. These activities don’t conform with the Islamic laws and harm the interests of the nation and the society, the Saudi channel quoted the ministry as saying. Any attempt to cause public disorder will be prevented by security forces, it said.
– Dow Jones, March 5, 2011
Is there anyone so dogmatic and obtuse as to believe that it would serve the American national interest to see the House of Saud’s monarchy replaced by democracy? Is there any reasonable doubt that it’s the homeland of Osama bin Laden and birthplace of al-Qaida? And yet, intervening in Libya on the basis of the human rights to the stated “freedoms of expression, assembly, and association online,” would almost surely send what are already soaring oil prices to record prices in excess of $150 per barrel.
Has democracy in Iraq been worth the cost in American lives that has been paid? Has democracy in Afghanistan been worth the cost in American interest payments on the gargantuan debts that were incurred to install what attempts to pass for it? How many more American jobs would have to be sacrificed, ironically, against the will and national interest of the American people, to inflict the same sort of pseudo-democracy with which are Americans presently burdened on the people of Libya and Saudi Arabia?
As we have seen time and time again, from the bailout of the big banks and the automotive companies to homogamy, immigration and the vanished Democratic senators in Wisconsin, Americans themselves do not even enjoy the democratic freedoms which their leaders are claiming to support elsewhere. That is why it is absolute lunacy to suggest that Americans should spend a single dime in support of the Islamic revolutions across the Middle East and North Africa. If the U.S. political leadership genuinely believes in freedom and democracy, it should stop denying them to Americans rather than supporting them in foreign lands halfway across the world.