Shukri Ghanem, the head of the Libyan oil industry, was in Rome on Wednesday. He announced that he was leaving the Gadhafi regime and that he now supports the rebel forces — considered a blow to the Libyan dictator. "In this situation, which is unbearable, one cannot continue working,” the former oil chief said.
The North Atlantic Treaty Organization was formed for the purposes of mutual self-defense, and American involvement was intended to reassure West Europeans that if the Red Army crossed the borders of the Warsaw Pact (an armored rush through the Fulda Gap in the Federal Republic of Germany was the most common scenario), then American armed forces would fight alongside German, French, and other troops.
The Warsaw Pact lost its pivotal member, Poland, when the religiously serious and patriotic Polish people broke off 22 years ago. At that time, because the Warsaw Pact was centered around “Warsaw,” any threat of conventional attack on Germany essentially vanished. Lech Welesa, Pope John Paul II, and millions of other Poles rejected war as a means of achieving political ends and sought friendly relations with all nations that would treat Poland as a friendly nation.
Twenty years before Poland cast off the Communist Party, Colonel Gadhafi ousted the reigning king of Libya and, along with a gang of fellow officers, kicked Americans out of Wheeler Field Air Force Base, established an Islamic Socialist Republic (complete with a “Little Green Book” modeled after Mao’s Little Red Book), began planning to shoot up the price of oil as a militant within OPEC, and began a reign of terror against Libyans to match Castro’s savage and malevolent rule over Cubans.
So far, however, NATO has not promised to send in forces to help protect the Cuban people against their brutal communist dictator. Cuban is in the North Atlantic and it has long represented a threat to America. Has NATO offered to help us defend the hemisphere against Castro? Mexicans are overrunning much of our Southwest, posing a threat to our national sovereignty. NATO, again, offers no help. Venezuela’s Chavez more or less openly threatens our nation, and NATO is silent. Kim Jong Il almost never passes up an opportunity to threaten America and he reigns over, perhaps, the most pathological regime in the world (which is quite an accomplishment), yet NATO ignores the tortured people of North Korea.
As far as that goes, NATO did nothing to prevent Gadhafi from coming to power and from persecuting his own people for 43 straight years. Why, then, the sudden interest in the welfare of the Libyan people? Why the determination now that the treaty obligations of NATO, which are all related to self-defense, are triggered and should even be extended beyond the authorized period?
Libya poses no real threat to any NATO member. The small nation is, in fact, pathetically weak militarily. It is the right, even the duty, of moral men — including the Foreign Ministers of European democracies — to condemn the enslavement of peoples by harsh regimes, but should that process not have begun about four decades ago?
What the NATO operation in Libya resembles most is the distraction that Roman emperors called “Bread and Circuses.” The welfare state of European nations provides food for the masses. The military operation against small, weak Libya provides the circuses or entertainment.
If the nation that once held Libya as a colony and so has some obligation for her dysfunction today — Italy — wishes to intervene in Libyan affairs, then it would seem that the Italian Parliament should declare war on Libya and in the three-day campaign that followed, it could install a new government (perhaps with Italian oversight for several years). That would leave nations such as America, which have no real interest in Libya, to stand back, and it would permit European nations which, like Italy, have an interest in Libya to join Italy. So France, Spain, Greece, and perhaps a few other European nations could put aside all the trite diplomatic feigned language and just announce something such as this: “Libya needs to have a government friendly to Europe that sells oil at the fair market price, and all its people ordered liberty.”
If the nations of Western Europe truly feel that their young men need to fight and die to remove Gadhafi and replace him with a more benign regime, then the governments of those nations ought to pursue that avenue directly and without tugging on America as part of our nation’s “treaty obligations” to NATO. America might even remind these nations that small, new nations can go to war to protect their sailors and ships on the planet's seas, just as our nation did two centuries ago. Pointedly, we did this because it affected our rights, and we did it without help. Our goals were limited and our message was sent. Is that not what Europe should be doing now, instead of asking America to help them out under the guise of NATO? And while this is going on, perhaps our government ought to seriously review how it is protecting our nation and its citizens.