President Obama tonight gave a speech at the National Defense University at Fort McNair in Washington, DC, justifying American intervention in Libya as part of an international force to prevent a massacre of civilians in that civil war.
Obama called it a basic principle of the United States that we should oppose all violations of human rights when it involves the likelihood of mass murder by a deranged dictator who does not value human life, and is only too willing to conduct mass operations against civilians in large numbers.
This is a direct contradiction of what the United States did in the past: failure by Woodrow Wilson to intervene in the Armenian Massacre by Turkey in 1915 during World War I; failure by Franklin D. Roosevelt to step in during the mass Holocaust by Nazi Germany against Jews, gypsies, and others during World War II; refusal by Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter to intervene during the holocaust in Cambodia in the late 1970s; and failure by Bill Clinton to step in during the massacre that went on in Rwanda in 1994.
All of the above are seen as moral failures by the United States and the world, but this new doctrine, while admirable and principled, does bring up the issue of how the United States and NATO are supposed to afford the cost of constant interventions all over the world!
What if similar massacres are imminent in Syria, Iran, and other unfriendly nations in the Middle East? Why should not the United States step into the situation in the Sudan, the Ivory Coast, the Congo Republic, Zimbabwe, Myanmar and elsewhere?
Are we to be selective in where the US and NATO intervene? And what about the deaths in Bahrain, where the US Naval Command in the Middle East is situated, and in Yemen, where there are dangers of Al Qaeda influences that could affect world wide terrorism?
And how in the world are we to afford more defense and war spending long run, as we cut ruthlessly into education, health care, and other public services all over the country? How much longer can we tolerate the worsening of our every day lives and commit ourselves to reforming the world of its evils?
It is hard NOT to agree with the purposes of the Obama Doctrine in theory, but in practice, it seems impossible and a losing proposition politically for Barack Obama to seem to commit us to never ending intervention in the name of human rights and decency!
This is a torment for those of us who consider ourselves progressives and liberals, as even the best intentions cannot be fulfilled within the budget constraints the country faces in the short run and the long run!