It is my opinion that America must never commit it's troops to war unless (1) there is a real and imminent danger to the United States or to nations protected by mutual defense agreements with the U.S., (2) every option other than war has been exhausted, (3) our intelligence is accurate and complete, (4) our military and civilian leaders understand the political, religious, cultural and historic facts about the potential battlefield, and (5) finally, the war's endgame is precisely defined in terms of victory.
Is there an imminent danger to our nation or to nations with whom we have mutual defense agreements? I don't think so. This is a civil war, pure and simple. Who are the rebels? Are they simply freedom-loving patriots who sleep with Thomas Jefferson's biography under their pillows? Are they proxies for Iran who will be worse than the government they replace? No one seems to know who these guys are or to whom they hold allegiance.
If the effort is to protect innocent civilians from a brutal dictatorship, why don't we oppose the Saudi dictators who are just as cruel? Why do we stand by while Iran tortures and imprisons those who oppose its government? Why do we continue to defer to China whose terrible dictators have murdered tens of millions of its own people? Why is the situation in Libya different from other dictatorships around the world?
Has every other option been exhausted? What about letting the Libyan people solve their own problems? Wasn't involving ourselves in a civil war the primary criticism of the Vietnam War?
Is our intelligence about the Libyan situation and the rebels forces accurate and complete? Do our political and military leaders really understand all the political, religious, cultural and historic facts about this new battlefield and the rebels we support? I fear not.
Finally, what is the endgame? From all reports so far, the only endgame is to obtain a ceasefire and build some invisible wall between the two sides. That's not enough to justify going to war. What will constitute victory? Regime change? The creation of a "demilitarized zone" like the ones that worked so well in Vietnam and Korea? If there is regime change, what will replace the dictatorship of Moammar Gadhafi - another one?
I am not convinced that we should be involved in another war in the Middle East - especially another "limited war". I call these types of wars "half-wars". These are the conflicts that always seem to get us bogged down, cost us the precious lives of our children and billions of our hard-earned dollars, and anchor our nation to another wave-tossed reef.
Unless there are facts yet to be revealed that justify this war, I shall remain convinced that our involvement in the conflict in Libya is a mistake.
Charles M. Grist