"Our Vietnamese people, after so many years of spoliation and devastation, is just beginning its building-up work. It needs security and freedom, first to achieve internal prosperity and welfare, and later to bring its small contribution to world reconstruction. Security and freedom can only be guaranteed by our independence from any colonial power, and our free cooperation with all other powers. It is with this firm conviction that we request of the United Sates as guardians and champions of World Justice to take a decisive step in support of our independence." Ho Chi Minh to US President Harry Truman, 1945
"Raising his hands in the air he [the USAF F-15 airman] called out 'OK, OK' to greet the crowd. But he need not have worried. I hugged him and said don't be scared we are your friends, said Younis Amruni, 27. We are so grateful to these men who are protecting the skies, he said. We gave him juice and then the revolutionary military people took him away." UK Telegraph Newspaper, 23 March 2011
President Barack Obama made the correct decision to support the February 17 Libyan Revolution that seeks to oust Colonel Kadafi's regime.
After so many years of brutal oppression and the rape of Libya's people and natural resources by the Gaddafi family, a majority of people in Libya just said "No" and are making the attempt to join Tunisia and Egypt in building new and apparently representative forms of government.
Perhaps the Libyan Revolutionaries who met with Secretary of State Hillary Clinton in mid-March 2011 made a plea similar to Ho Chi Minh's in 1945 (Minh was an OSS/CIA operative in WWII). That plea was ignored, of course, and French and American folly led to the Vietnam War with the collateral damage being the destruction of Laos and Cambodia.
Cultural ignorance of all things Vietnamese-and myopic views of socialism and communism--blinded American leadership and preempted any notion of meeting with Minh immediately after WWII or Chinese leader Mao Tse Tung.
To this day, America's Achilles Heal remains its unabashed ignorance of world history and other cultures, and its own place in history.
That cultural blindness, more than any other factor, would lead to the overthrow of government's on every continent-many freely elected, some not-by the USA. Chile (September 11, 1973) and Iran (1953) serve as stark reminders from the past.
And here in the 21st Century, that same cultural blindness resulted in the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan where the wars rage on with tragic results for civilians and soldiers alike. For example, the Pentagon recently reported this item: "Cpl. Brandon S. Hocking, 24, of Seattle, Wash., died March 21, 2011 in As Samawah, Iraq, when enemy forces attacked his unit with an improvised explosive device. He was assigned to the 87th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion, 3rd Sustainment Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division, Fort Stewart, Ga."
Operation New Dawn is nothing of the sort for Hocking's family.
Critics of all political and ideological stripes would do well to maintain their focus on getting Americans out of Iraq and Afghanistan. Rather than attempting to "defund" the operation in support of the Libyan Revolutionaries, as the US Speaker of the House John Boehner has suggested, he ought to turn that focus to Iraq and Afghanistan.
And for those aged, desiccated pundits and politicians screaming, "it's unconstitutional", give us all a break. Take a sedative, or laxative, and retire. Global governance and opinion making is now the purview of the young--graybeards need not apply. But do keep your Face Book and Twitter accounts open; maybe, now and then, you'll get contacted for a comment.
You Say You Want a Revolution? Not Happening without Help!
The Libyan Revolutionaries--like their counterparts in Tunisia, Egypt and Yemen; well, everywhere for that matter-are dominated by the young, lower and middle classes. That normally disparate mixture, if agitated and abused long enough, invariably becomes a volatile street force for any ruling class, dictatorial or democratic, to contain and suppress.
Revolutions that seek to dissolve the covenant between ruler and ruled are typically violent, although in varying degrees. Such revolutions always set the stage for foreign intervention whether clandestine or overt. Rarely has a revolution succeeded internally without some form of outside assistance and intervention. Indeed, how would the American Revolutionaries and their nascent United States have fared without French military intervention on American land and sea? It was Count Rochambeau who defeated the UK's Cornwallis at Yorktown and largely funded General George Washington's fledgling US Army. Was it in France's national interest to join the American colonials? Absolutely. After the Seven Years War, France had scores to settle with the UK in the Americas and around the globe.
A nation's interests-sprinkled with a dash of sincerity and honor-are paramount in determining whether to provide political, military and economic support to a broad based revolution internal to a sovereign nation. It's a gamble and a nation intervenes where the odds of success are high. The national interest trumps all else. It Libya's case, it helps when the revolutionaries openly solicit for the USA's assistance. Relations are buttressed, obviously, when US aviators find that parachuting into territory controlled by Libya Revolutionaries does not land them a reservation at Kadafi's version of the Hanoi Hilton.
On so many levels, Obama's decision to assist the Libyan Revolutionaries in retiring the brilliant lunatic that is Kadafi are compelling. Obama's actions also have thrust AFRICOM into the forefront. AFRICOM has been quietly working with militaries around the African continent establishing relationships ostensibly "humanitarian" but in reality with the mission being to counter moves by the Russian, Chinese and Indians on the chessboard that is Africa.
It is a given that US intelligence operatives and special forces reconnaissance; eg, Joint Tactical Air Controllers and SOCOM actives, have been on the ground in Libya for weeks now (the US Army's JP 3-22, Foreign Internal Defense, July 2010, provides guidance/methodologies for supporting revolutionaries in other countries). It is important to note that US airpower would be largely ineffective and inaccurate without the JTAC's, aircraft operations and maintenance technicians, air rescue and refueling personnel, and long range reconnaissance teams.
And so, the game's afoot!
Obama Doctrine: Young, Lower & Middle Classes of the World, Unite!
First, Obama's strategy is focused on supporting, through various means, the disgruntled young, lower and middle classes of North Africa and South Central Asia. In Libya's case, nearly 50 percent of the population is under 20 years of age. According to the Population Reference Bureau, for North Africa and the Middle East as a whole, there are at least 95 to 100 million people under the age of 30. The Libyan Revolutionaries, like their counterparts throughout the region, want food and job security, education and a say (no matter how minor), in their respective countries foreign and domestic policies.
That's in the USA's interests, Europe's too.
Americans and Europeans can't afford, literally, waves of immigrants settling in their countries (nor can countries like Tunisia, Egypt, Lebanon, and Turkey continue to absorb refugees from crumbling regimes). Millions of Americans and Europeans are already unemployed with few prospects for work as they attempt to compete with labor in foreign lands. Worst, perhaps, is that European leaders, like Republicans and Democrats in the USA, are attempting to gut social programs in the face of ongoing financial instability. This even as tax cuts, and bailouts for the wealthy continue unabated. A revolution may be forthcoming in America.
Second, should the Libyan Revolutionaries succeed in uniting all of Libya and form a government along the Turkish model perhaps over the decades Libya may become allied with the USA in all manners economic and military. Libya's location on the Mediterranean provides land, sea and air proximity to choke points essential to ocean going trade: Strait of Gibraltar, Suez, Bab El Mandeb, and the Bosporus. Further, it is likely the USA will push for some sort of Tunisia, Libya, Egypt alliance or trade bloc that sees labor, goods and services free flowing across borders there.
Third, the Libyan Revolution, and uprisings in progress elsewhere, will undercut the rationale on which AQ--and its subsidiaries--operate. Now that The Street has taken control-with support from internal militaries in the reborn countries-what is the purpose of AQ's existence? In fact, some AQ dissidents have suggested going mainstream like the Northern Ireland's IRA did. If you are 15 years of age and your prospects for a decent life are now within range, why blow yourself up for the sake of some old-timer sitting on a carpet, ranting in Tripoli or somewhere in the Hindu Kush? And if you are a policy maker and executor in the USA and make your living off of AQ's existence, it may be time to change fields.
Fourth, although President Obama and Hillary Clinton manage to enrage the leadership of Iran with each word uttered, they surely must recognize that now is the time to start talking with Iran. Over 50 percent of Iran's population is under 30 and that is a pot that can be watched as it slowly boils. But there is a gulf of difference between Iran and, say, Egypt and Tunisia: even if a more "democratic, liberal" government were to emerge from a revolution in Iran , the new generation of Iranians would never forsake the gains made in Iraq, Afghanistan, and with its trading partners like Turkey and India. Neither would they be likely to roll back progress on their nuclear power project. Lastly, the USA needs to remove itself from the leash that Saudi Arabia and Israel have on the three branches of the US government.
In fact, it is in the USA's national interest to ensure Iran's stability just as it is in Iran's national interest to serve its next generation by working with the USA and its neighbors.
Iran's leadership has suggested that the Libyan Revolutionaries be armed.
On that the US and Iran agree.
John Stanton is a Virginia based writer specializing in national security and political matters. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org.