[Hussam Ayloush is the Executive Director of the Greater Los Angeles Area office of the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR-LA). Article represents my personal views and not necessarily those of CAIR]
Pasadena Star-News, Whittier Daily news, San Gabriel Vally Tribune
Over the years, I have strongly opposed war and in particular recent U.S. military involvement in Iraq, Afghanistan, and Pakistan. However, I commend and fully support President Obama’s decision to engage our military in a limited role to help enforce the no-fly zone and protect the civilian populations in Libya. Nevertheless, I still oppose any deployment of U.S. ground troops.
For the record, I am not an absolute pacifist. I do believe that military action is permissible – and sometimes necessary – as a last resort under the doctrine of just war, such as in cases of defending one’s country from foreign military aggression or the prevention of atrocities against innocent people, even if requires military action in another country.
The situations in Iraq and Afghanistan on one hand, and Libya on the other are different, and not comparable.
In Iraq, our invasion was a unilateral, immoral and illegal action taken on the basis of false pretenses – basically Bush and his cronies lied to the American people and to the world about the weapons of mass destruction and Iraq’s association with al-Qaeda.
In Afghanistan, what started as a legitimate effort to track down and bring to justice Al-Qaeda militants who proudly took responsibility for the 9/11 terrorist attacks on our soil became a full-fledged invasion and occupation of a country and its people – an occupation that continues to bleed our resources, moral credibility, and any chance of a realistic victory in isolating the violent extremists. Obama has yet to introduce a new political and military strategy that will help us break out of the mess that Bush put us in.
Now, back to Libya.
Like many Americans, I am generally against our government spending any of our dwindling tax money on senseless wars at a time when our schools, homeowners, workers, and seniors are financially suffering. It is also important to recognize, though, that our current role in Libya is not a charitable favor to Libyans. It is a debt we owe them for our role and that of our allies in supporting the dictatorship of Gadhafi over many years in order to advance our economic and political interests via this oil-rich country (and I’m not even talking about the documented U.S. role in supporting Colonel Gadhafi’s coup in 1969).
For decades, European allies, especially Germany and Italy, established strong economic ties with the Gadhafi family and its regime. In 2003, soon after the Libyan government accepted responsibility for its role in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 and agreed to eliminate its weapons of mass destruction and long- range missile programs, the U.S. joined the U.K., Germany and Italy in readmitting Colonel Gadhafi into the community of respected world leaders.
Our sins in Libya are similar to the ones we have been committing in most Arab countries. Today is our chance to undo many years of siding with the brutal dictators of the Middle East. It is our chance – rather, our moral responsibility – to side with the people and their legitimate aspirations for freedom, dignity, and justice.
After decades of supporting puppet and agent regimes that did our bidding in the world under the guise of protecting stability, or the immoral excuse of serving our national political and economic interests at the expense of other people’s lives and freedom, it is America’s historic moment to support the Arab world’s revolution against autocracy, repression, and economic injustice.
A new world order is possible: a world in which America leads by moral example, in which we recognize that the word “all” in “all men [and women] are created equal” and “liberty and justice for all,” really means all people and not just all Americans.
|Italy' President Silvio Berlusconi and Colonel Muammar Gadhafi.|
|With Former British prime Minister Tony Blair|
|Hey, if Berlusconi can do it, why not Blair!|
|With French President Nicolas Sarkozy|
|With U.S. Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice|
|Secretary of State Hillary Clinton with Gadhafi's son Muatassim|
|With world leaders|