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The death of Gaddafi

October 22, 2011

[13th J.P.'s Moment of Common Sense, my weekly oratorial exposition on Broad View, KBZZ 1270 AM Reno.  Click on the microphone to listen.]

Muammar Muhammad Abu Minyar al-Gaddafi, Libya’s head of state since 1969, was captured Thursday and almost immediately executed by the crowd of rebels that captured him. I don’t know how I feel about that.

To the extent that my country, the United States of America, helped make this happen, I’m uncomfortable. And let’s face it: the success of Libya’s rebellion is entirely our doing. We bought it and we paid for it. Our primary NATO ally, Great Britain, only had about three cruise missiles in its quiver when the bombing of Libya started. It’s nothing but a convenient fiction for President Obama to claim this was a NATO operation. It was our bombs, mostly our planes dropping the bombs, and our cruise missiles.

Now that’s it a done deal, we’ve learned that the rebels are being led by Al Queda, so as far as Islamic terrorism is concerned, things just got worse.

Next door, in Egypt, they have the same kind of mess. The Muslim Brotherhood is coming out on top there, after the United States turned its back on Hosni Mubarek. Mubarek, like Gaddafi, was a dictator, but he was also as close to being an ally of the United States as any Muslim Middle Eastern leader can be. If you don’t know what the Muslim Brotherhood is, it’s the precursor and philosophical father of Al Queda. For the last couple months, now that Mubarek is gone and the Muslim Brotherhood is in charge, mobs of Muslims have been attacking and killing the Coptic Christian minority. There were about eight million Christians in Egypt when this rebellion started – I expect there will be fewer than a million in five years. They’ll either leave or be killed. That’s the way it works when Muslims start instituting sharia.

There’s no debate about what kind of man Gaddafi was, and it’s accurate to say that he was evil, foolish, and mad. It’s easy to say he deserved to die... until you watch the video of that mob of nutcases shouting “God is great!” while shooting an old man in the head on a dusty road. There’s something dark and satanic about saying God is great while shooting somebody in the head, and it makes me very uneasy to think that my money and my country made this happen.

If they had an independent rebellion in Libya that ended with the death of Gaddafi, I wouldn’t give it much thought beyond, “He reaped what he sowed.” But the fact that we did it, that gives me pause.

Back in the 60’s and 70’s there was outrage when Americans learned that the CIA was engaging in assassination of foreign leaders. There was so much outrage, and so many investigations by Congress, that President Gerald Ford signed Executive Order 11905, in 1976, which says, “No employee of the United States Government shall engage in, or conspire to engage in, political assassination."

That means our government is not allowed to kill a foreign leader. More importantly, it means our government can’t work with anybody else to kill a foreign leader. But isn’t that what just happened in Libya?

Beyond the legality of our participation in the overthrow of Libya’s government, I’m uncomfortable with the whole notion of remote-control war. I simply don’t like the way my country is sending bombs to every corner of the world, killing people from thousands of miles away, from comfortable military boardrooms in Washington, D.C., and from drone-controlling computer rooms in Nevada. The technology geek in me says, “Isn’t it cool that they can fly drones over Afghanistan from right here in Nevada?” but the moral watchdog who sits on my shoulder whispering in my ear isn’t so thrilled.

When you’re at war with somebody that’s one thing, but this is something different. There is something cold and dishonorable about what we’re doing now, and it doesn’t matter how much you dress it up with justifications and excuses. In addition to what we’ve been doing in Libya, we’ve got drones dropping bombs in Somalia, troops and drones operating in Yemen, and now we’re putting troops on the ground in Uganda to direct cruise missiles and bombs on to the heads of whoever earned our disfavor in Central Africa. God knows what else we don’t even know about. Where does it end?

People say the debate is about whether the United States should be the world’s policeman, but we aren’t policing anything. We’re dropping bombs and killing people from half a world away, according to the political whims of a few people in Washington. Personally, I don’t want us to be that country. And what’s more, I think, sooner or later, the reaping-what-you-sow thing will turn around and bite us in the ass.

That’s just common sense.

"He who has lost honor can lose nothing more." – Publilius Syrus (Roman author, 1st century B.C.)

From Reno, Nevada, USA       

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