Will Cain of The Blaze, CNN, and National Review (now that's a trifecta!) looks at whether "your humanitarian war may be racist." He runs through the arguments which hold that foreign policy is always inconistent but then asks if humanitarian concerns are driving our action in Libya, just how did Gaddafi's hellhole jump to the top of the queue?
No one knows for sure, but by most rough accounts Quadaffi has killed about a thousand people in Libya. Granted, this is more than the dozens killed in fledgling humanitarian crises in Yemen, Bahrain and Syria. But check out these numbers:
Democratic Republic of Congo – 5.4 MILLION(!) dead
Sudan – 400,000 killed in Darfur
Ivory Coast – 200 people killed and 450,000 displaced
By this standard, Libya doesn't even crack the top two.
Cain notes that most of the other arguments about why Libya is the one place we need to intervene in now—proximity to airbases and other hot spots; "do-ability"; etc—are just as weak as arguing that the scale of the possible tragedy.
So we are inconsistent, as I have learned, as to whom we militarily help through humanitarian crises. But I don't understand how we pick those we choose to help. Why do we help Libya, but we don't help Congo, Sudan, Rwanda and Ivory Coast? Is it because those countries are black and poor? Is our humanitarian motive racist?
Probably not. In my heart-of-hearts I don't really think we have a racist mindset dictating where we'll send planes to stop people from murdering themselves. But what else am I left with? If we continue to insist this is a humanitarian war, I don't see what makes Libya a priority over the Congo.
Well, among other things, Libya produces oil, which certainly helps it be more important. And Europe, particularly Italy, which is indeed nearby, is not only a huge user of that oil, it occupied Libya as a colonizer in the not-so-distant past. All of which suggests that this is in no way the United States' fight despite Libya's past crimes against our citizens (subsequently forgiven by our government, of course).
Even though I thought Obama's speech was truly awful on every possible level (and said as much last night on CNN and Fox Business), one thing I can agree with is the notion that not being able to intervene everywhere doesn't mean we can't intervene anywhere. The places and times we should intervene, I think, are vanishingly small, whether for security or humanitarian purposes (and I don't think that Libya rises to either threshold). But the idea that we either need to be everywhere or nowhere is a false choice, I think.
Here's my Reason.tv take on Obama's speech: