Sunday, March 20, 2011

Spring: a young man’s fancy turns to war

Today, March 20, is the first day of Spring.  It is the eighth anniversary of the launch of “Operation Iraqi Freedom” where a coalition of countries led by the U.S. invaded Iraq on a futile hunt for Weapons of Mass Destruction.  Yesterday, the U.S. began its third conflict in the Middle East by bombing Libya.  We also mourn death of Warren Christopher, longtime diplomat and public servant, who was passionately opposed to war.  Not only did the former Secretary of State die yesterday, so did his ideal of diplomacy.

President Barak Obama won the Nobel Prize for peace, not based on what he had done in the nascent months of his administration, but by what the committee expected he would do.  The President gave us hope:  “I believe that we must develop alternatives to violence that are tough enough to actually change behavior -- for if we want a lasting peace, then the words of the international community must mean something.  Those regimes that break the rules must be held accountable.  Sanctions must exact a real price.  Intransigence must be met with increased pressure -- and such pressure exists only when the world stands together as one. … The promotion of human rights cannot be about exhortation alone.  At times, it must be coupled with painstaking diplomacy.  I know that engagement with repressive regimes lacks the satisfying purity of indignation.  But I also know that sanctions without outreach -- condemnation without discussion -- can carry forward only a crippling status quo.  No repressive regime can move down a new path unless it has the choice of an open door.”  Perhaps the Libyan door wasn't ever open, but did we even try?

There are justifications and nuances that make the U.S. forced entry into Libya more palatable. The President did utilize the international community and U.S. engagement is part of what appears to be a truer coalition than in Iraq or Afghanistan. No matter the packaging, though, American forces are in conflict not as a response to challenge U.S. sovereignty but as something else. 

It is cold and rainy this first day of the season in Los Angeles – a more apt metaphor to start Spring than the usual sense of optimism and rebirth.  May this conflict end soon.

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