by Rodimus Dunn
“Indeed, our British and French allies, and members of the Arab League, have already committed to take a leadership role in the enforcement of this resolution…”
This is a sentence taken from President Barack Obama’s remarks on the state of affairs in Libya. Per usual, when there is a world leader causing excessive harm to large numbers of innocent civilians, the United States steps in to rectify the situation. Of course the US is rather selective in which circumstances we’ll intervene in, but for all intents and purposes, our involvement in the Libya situation is not atypical. Or is it?
Obama clearly states that 2 European countries and the Arab league will be the leaders in the attack against Qaddafi’s forces. When has the United States ever relinquished control of a crisis situation? Have we ever been involved in a foreign dispute and not been the leaders? Can you imagine famous US generals like Collin Powell, George Patton, or Norman Schwarzkopf being 2nd or 3rd banana in a war, and taking commands from people who may have never directed a military strike? This is precisely what’s happening with Libya, and it’s because the United States has been neutered. We’ve lost our global hammer because our domestic situation is in such disarray. The self proclaimed “greatest country in the world” can no longer speak with previous authority and that is perfectly illustrated in how Obama says the war strategy will be carried out. Part of a famous General Douglas MacArthur quote is “One cannot wage war under present conditions without the support of public opinion…” Right now the US does not have public opinion, and there are several reasons why.
The economy simply stinks. It’s been reported for a few years now that this has been America’s worst financial crisis since the Great Depression. Wars cost billions of dollars to fight, and America doesn’t really have billions of spend on anything other than its own declining domestic tranquility. The US has always had an interesting sense of diplomacy, but there is a growing sense of disinterest in saving the world when a growing percentage of American citizens can’t even save themselves from unemployment. The national debt is significantly higher than it’s ever been, but most scarily, it continues to rise. America can’t spend the money to ameliorate the financial infrastructure of the economy if it’s steadily trying to lessen the debt to foreign lenders. Throw in the capital of funding a war in a country no one knows, and the public is rather nonplussed with this war.
Moderates and bipartisanship no longer exist in US politics. With political vitriol at is pinnacle, half of the citizens are going to inherently disagree with the decision of this war. Obama was very precise and explicit in saying that there would be no American troops on the ground and that America would not be lead country. He had to say this to satiate the Republic congress. Every decision Obama makes is scrutinized, so of course the choice of going to war is already being questioned by Republicans. It’s not negative for the parties to scrutinize each other’s decisions, but to completely disagree on everything, all the time, allows for no cohesion. There will always be those who disagree with war regardless of the circumstances, but when half of America isn’t excited about the war, the bald eagle’s wings have been clipped.
America can no longer wield its hammer as well as before because the public is simply fatigued and dismayed. Within the last 10 years Americans have had to endure wars with seemingly no endpoint against Iraq and Afghanistan. There is widespread skepticism with continuing to spend tax payer money on questionable wars. Many think the war on Iraq was a personal vendetta between Saddam Hussein and George W. Bush, and lasted far too long. People are still disenchanted with the Afghanistan situation, especially since it never produced Osama Bin Laden. Furthermore, in the information age people have consistent access to war footage, stories, blogs, and annoying political pundits. America can’t take any more war. What’s more concerning is that people believe there are ulterior motives to defending Libya. Apparently what separates the Libya effort from other countries is that they have a stake in the oil transport. People are not ignorant to this fact, and this makes many very disenchanted.
Without full support from the American public, the military hammer is weak, and that in itself doesn’t aid in solving the numerous domestic quandaries.