How many Libyans died in the mean time, Mr. President?

Eight years to the day from the day the sky lit up over Baghdad as W. Bush acted decisively, with Congressional approval and a massive international coalition, to eliminate an odious and threatening regime in Iraq, the United States has begun launching missiles to vigorously support a no fly zone over Libya to ground the air force of whats-his-name Qadaffi.

The French air force has already begun sorties to knock Libyan aircraft out of the sky. The French are being more righteously aggressive than we are on this one. The French.

President Barack Obama has ordered military action “to protect civilians” from the forces of Gaddafi. Civilians have been dying at the hands of Qadhafi and his regime for over two weeks.

This is the same Qhadhafii who essentially threw up his hands and promised to be a good boy while W. Bush was President. My, how “Change” in U.S. leadership changes the attitude of terrorism-exporting potentates.

What has changed in the weeks since the people began to rise up in Libya until today? Only one thing has changed: a U.N. Security Council resolution supporting a no fly zone. NATO was on the verge of doing that same thing a week or so ago, only to be blocked by the U.S.—an action that Secretary Gates would not have taken without the agreement of the President. But apparently a number of people who saw Rwanda part II about to happen prevailed upon Obama to get off the fence and support a UNSC resolution. So, with U.N. approval, the course of action Obama blocked at NATO is okay against Qhadafee.

The other thing that has changed, of course, is the number of anti-Gaddafi Libyans who are dead.

The action is presented as “protecting the civilians;” but if that were truly the aim, not only would we have started sooner, but we would truly refuse to take sides and send in ground troops to neutralize all aggressors. But we are not sending in ground troops, only cruise missiles to take out regime anti-aircraft emplacements.

In fact, the only air craft carrier in the region, the USS Enterprise, which two weeks ago was in position in the Red Sea to participate in a no fly zone, was moved out of range into the Arabian Sea. Now near Libya in the Mediterranean we have the USS Kearsarge, an amphibious assault vessel which can launch assault Marines or act as a floating hospital (or both), guided missile launchers, and command & control vessels. The French and other allies are left to actually patrol the skies over Libya while we just launch a few missiles.

One of a number of maddening things is that a no fly zone was an obvious step more than two weeks ago, back when today’s justification, “to protect the civilians,” was already a cri de couer. A no fly zone imposed today, weeks after the uprising and bloodletting began, is a late effort to protect civilians, a calculated motto to avoid appearing like an aggressor, and an impotent attempt to help the rebels bring about regime change.

But another cry arises at this point (admittedly a different topic entirely at this late point in a blog post): why do the civilians of Libya (finally) get this amount and manner of support when the long-suffering civilians in southern Sudan do not? Why do the Christians being murdered by Muslims in Sudan get ignored?



  • Bill

    Tom: You prove the truth of what Machiavelli wrote in Il Principe (The Prince) some five hundred plus years ago: the masses of people see things the way they appear, while the cognoscenti (the informed) see things they way they really are. That is why the Communists always destroyed the intelligentsia when they invaded a new country. Google the Project for the New American Century and realize that William Kristol, whom the C.V. writer above questions for his support of the U.S. War on Libya, was the co-author of the PNAC document.
    With Google, Wikipedia and Wikileaks there is no excuse for ignorance on these very timely and critical matters.

    • Tom Crowe

      Bill– So now we’re destroying the intelligentsia. Wow. You took my previous flippant comments to mean I was not aware of the material that you proposed through your references; that I see things as I choose to see them. The truth of the matter is that while I in no way absolve anyone of wrong doing, I see what’s going on in the world, recognize that we cannot make everything perfect in one fell swoop, choose to fight certain battles later in an effort to fight other battles now, and thereby draw a different conclusion from what you do based on the same set of facts. And I have no desire to debate it in these comment threads.

  • Bill

    Ooops! It appears that CatholicVote columnist Brad Birzer has a different point of view, one more in line with mine. I would have thought that the U.S. fighting in THREE MUSLIM COUNTRIES SIMULTANEOUSLY would have at least raised an eyebrow that perhaps something is askew.
    Recently, Hillary Clinton, much to my pleasant surprise, thoughtfully suggested that Al Jazeera English should be given a channel in the U.S. Now why do you think Al Jazeera English does NOT have a channel in the U.S.?

    • Tom Crowe

      Bill– Yes, Brad and I have some disagreements on some things. ———— I hadn’t thought that the predominant religion of the countries should matter, but apparently you like to classify things according to demographics more than I do. Your latent racism doesn’t sway me, however. ——— On the topic of Al Jazeera English, I hadn’t given it much thought, but now that you mention it, perhaps because they haven’t tried to launch a channel here in the States? Perhaps their infrastructure isn’t up to par just yet? I suppose there could be a lot of reasons AJ-E isn’t here in the States yet. But something tells me you have identified a far more sinister reason. Perhaps the Joooooos? Or warmongering columnists at

  • Bill

    Dear Tom and Greg:Thank you for your remarks on my first comment Nothing is superior to facts. Are you aware that Saddam built Christian churches? Are you aware that Tariq Aziz is not the gentleman’s name. He took that Muslim name with Saddam’s full knowledge so the he, Michael, could function more effectively in Saddam’s cabinet as a Christian!
    I am not sure what the protocol is on this site, but I would strongly recommend that both of you (and your readers) go to and let American Jewish people with consciences share with you their views on what is occurring in Palestine/Israel. By the way, you may also want to look up Project for the New American Century which was the statement of the Neo-Conservatives who lied us into the Iraq War. There is a whole world of information out there which bright persons with a computer can avail themselves.

    Good research!

    • Tom Crowe

      Yes, Bill, Saddam Hussein’s cause for canonization is open in Rome. And the Palestinians are actually the 10th choir of angelic beings. And American foreign policy is run by Neocons and the Joooooos, who fabricated those 17 UNSC resolutions, forced Saddam to fire on our planes and otherwise thumb his nose at the international community. It was all a lie. For oil. Sure glad we did that, otherwise gasoline would be around $8 per gallon right now rather than $3.50! Have a nice day.

    • Greg Smith

      Dear Bill – Your comment which initiated this was “The Palestinians were invaded sixty years ago and they are still being oppressed.” In 1948 the UN partitioned Palestine into Jewish and Arab areas. Previously Palestine was a British mandate and prior to that it was a province of the Ottoman Empire. There were no countries named Israel or Pallestine. The partition map looked like a gerrymander because the areas allotted were based on where the Jewish and Arab populations resided. The Jews declared statehood. Rather than support Arab Palestinian statehood, about a dozen Arab states invaded Israel. From the armistice in 1948 to 1967 no effort was made to establish a Palestinian state. I say again “Israel has the right to live in peace with its neighbors within internationally recognized borders.” This is the position of the mainstream American Jewish comunity. I hope you are not suggesting that only “progressive” American Jews like the two guys who run this website have consciences, and that the vast majority of our Jewish brothers and sisters somehow don’t.~Best regards, Greg Smith

  • Greg Smith

    Dear Tim: I ask that you be mindful of recent history. We don’t know who the Libyan “rebels” are. Our intelligence in the Middle East has never been very good. We had no choice but to go into Afghanistan after 9/11 but we then went into Iraq, without any Arab or UN support, and starved the Afghan operation. In neither case did we have a clear strategic plan after initial operations or an exit strategy. Now we’re withdrawing from both countries and the people will probably be worse off than before (Yes, we had to eliminate Afghanistan as a safe base of AQ command and control.) Now, to you seem to be saying we should have immediately gone in with forces available in the Med. Believe me, after carrying most of the water in the fight against terrorism, I have no problem letting the French have first crack at it. I’m sure our own pilots will get a chance to fight and die before this is over. You do seem anxious to commit ground troops. The USS Keasarge Amphibious Ready Group carries Marine Expeditionary Unit which consists of a reinforced Marine Battalion (including only 4 tanks and 6 LAAV wheeled armored recon vehicle and 6, 155mm Howitzers, an Air Combat Element with about 20 transport and 8 attack helos and a Combat Logistics Element which is capable t of providing and distributing ‘Beans and Bullets” for up to 15 days. The Army has an Airborne Task force of regimental size in Avino Italy that is also available but is lighter logistically then even the Marine MEU. Where would you deploy these forces? One costal city? Spread them out among the ones under attack? Have the Marines land on the “Shores of Tripoli,” march to Ouadffi’s palace and arrest him for ci crimes against humanity? If not that, what’s next? It’s not clear to me that with both the Iraq and Afghan commitments we or even NATO have the ability to seize control of Libya, stop the killing and…. Then what? Install a Kharrazi style corrupt government and support it with a 10 year troop commitment? I expect John Dear and the NCR staff will shortly tell us we can liberate the Iraqi people through non-violent means. Maybe I’m a bad Catholic, but In this case. I believe both of you are wrong. ~~ Best Regards, Greg Smith ~~PS Bear in mind also that President Obama is being advised by the very experienced Sec Def he held over from the Bush Administration as well as the JCS.

    • Tom Crowe

      Greg Smith– First, my brother is Tim. I’m Tom. I understand my parents getting our names confused, but people who don’t even know my brother’s name? That’s a first! ———- I’ll dispense with defense of the multi-national liberation of Iraq commenced by the United States with explicit authorization of Congress, more than 40 other nations, and authorization of 17 U.N. resolutions and the persistent violation thereof by Saddam Hussein, because that argument has facts on one side and talking points on the other. And the talk that the people of Afghanistan and Iraq are worse off than when the respective butchers ran their countries is laughable. The only ones worse off are the Christians in Iraq, whom Saddam largely ignored, but whom the Islamists now target. That is a real problem, but avoiding it was not worth leaving Saddam in power. So that aside, what about Libya? ———– I’m not in favor of a land invasion of Libya by allied forces. Never have been. And since I posted this last night, my thinking on the topic has shifted and I’m working on a new post. My post was intended to take the President at his word and show how ridiculous his position is in light of his initial dithering and present justification. I’ve never been in favor of a ground invasion of Libya, but have supported a Western-imposed no-fly zone since back when the reports of bloodletting first emerged more than two weeks ago. Whether or not we directly affected regime change, it would at least allow the fight on the ground among the Libyans to be on more fair footing. ———– You are correct that we do not know who the rebels are, but it isn’t like the Taliban or AQ would be *worse* than Colonel whats-his-name! ———- Consider that Obama’s justification is: “to protect the civilians.” He isn’t justifying it with any talk of regime change or supporting the rebels. That’s fine, but why only now? If it’s really about protecting civilians, why didn’t he take action back when the Italians, the French, and most of NATO called for it? Only the U.S. and Germany stood in the way then. But now that the U.N. has directly authorized it (though Congress has not, unlike Iraq) it is okay? That’s pretty weak. ———— I expect the SecDef and JCOS to advise against military intervention. They are very good at fighting wars, but they are not keen on embarking on one. That is as it should be.

      • GREG SMITH

        Sorry Tom. I have dificulty remembering if you or Thom (Peters) wrote the post, so I looked up at the comments and actually read your name as Tim. Either bigger fonts or a trip to the optomitrist!

  • Bill

    You write as though there should be a logic in the US’s foreign affairs. There is none. You cite Rwanda. The Palestinians were invaded sixty years ago and they are still being oppressed. Who do you think has consistently supported the oppressor? The U.S., of course.
    Muslims in general, and Hussein and Qaddafy specifically, are easy targets for Western and Catholic writers as their audiences do not appreciate nuance. The US is doing all it can to alleviate problems of this nature by setting up Planned Parenthood facilities in First and Third world countries so that you will not see these huge, dissatisfied crowds ten years from now. Then the dictators we installed will not have to strike at restless dissidents-rhey will never have been conceived/born.

    • Tom Crowe

      You’ve got a point there… Get them to abort all their kids, then we can colonize and take over the oil fields with no one to answer to. What was I thinking!? 😉

    • Greg Smith

      Dear Bill ~ Israel has the right to live in peace with its neighbors within internationaly recognised boarders.~ Best regards, Greg Smith

      • Tom Crowe

        Greg Smith– I *think* Bill’s post was entirely tongue-in-cheek. Hard to tell sometimes with the written word, but that’s what it seemed like. Which is why I responded as I did. If I thought he was serious I would have taken him to task for that same point.



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