President Obama says that the NATO coalition enforced the no-fly zone in Libya to protect innocent human lives. The idealist in me views that motivation as noble. I’m hoping that part of this effort comes from lessons learned from our hesitation to intervene in the Balkans and our willful blindness to the genocide in Rwanda in the 1990s.
My cynical side looks at the particular lives that are being protected as just happening to exist in a country on whose oil European countries heavily rely. [Italy: 22%. France: 16%. Spain 13%] And, of course, I’m troubled that the same attention is not being paid to lives at risk in, for one example, Cote D’Ivoire, where the government is also attacking its own people as we speak.
Anyway, it’s a big deal that the US is intervening—even if the logic is imperfect. In his March 28 speech, President Obama said:
…as I’ve said before, our strength abroad is anchored in our strength here at home. That must always be our North Star — the ability of our people to reach their potential, to make wise choices with our resources, to enlarge the prosperity that serves as a wellspring for our power, and to live the values that we hold so dear.
Good statement of principles—particularly that line about our strength abroad being anchored in our strength here at home. So, here’s an idea: Let’s follow that “North Star” here at home, recognize our own domestic culpability in not protecting “the values we hold so dear,” admit our own hypocrisy and do something really innovative: intervene in America’s own attack on its own people.
I’m referring, of course, to the political and media-abetted attack on middle class workers, people living below the poverty line, union members, women, public employees, and anyone else corporate America and wealthy political donors have decided to demonize and blame for our economic woes—rather than accept responsibility themselves.
I don’t have to go into the details about anti-worker legislation, union-busting governors, pro-corporate Supreme Court rulings and anti-choice/anti-woman bills in Washington and in state legislatures. You know that story.
I’d simply like to propose that, as we enforce an ostensibly humanitarian “no-fly” zone against Col. Qadaffi in Libya, we acknowledge America’s culpability, too. And I’d like to see someone—Democrats? A progressive caucus? People in the streets? Our President?—publicly and loudly stand up against these attacks and create a “that-won’t-fly” zone in the US.
Who’s with me?