During the middle of February, uprisings began in the North African nation of Libya. Muammar Gaddafi has ruled Libya since 1969, when he overthrew the former regime via coup d’état. That regime maintained a pro-western stance; his regime, not so much.
The current conflict is between Colonel Gaddafi and revolutionary forces, which have established their own government. Likely inspired by other popular uprisings in the region, protestors initially called for democratic elections and a new leader. It did not take much time for protests to escalate into an armed conflict.
About a month after the initial protests, the United Nations decided it must intervene in Libya. The United States, as one of the five permanent members of the UN Security Council, consented to and promoted the intervention. The decision continues to distress many Americans, who cannot fathom the reason for United States involvement. There is a humanitarian concern in Libya, but there are many other countries around the world who have similar human rights concerns. Intervention has not occurred in other African nations such as Sudan and Ivory Coast, where the harm is arguably greater. Why then, has the U.S. and the U.N. intervened in Libya? Addressing the American people, President Obama stated, “I firmly believe that when innocent people are being brutalized; when someone like Qaddafi threatens a bloodbath that could destabilize an entire region; and when the international community is prepared to come together to save many thousands of lives—then it’s in our national interest to act.” By national interest, President Obama is referring to economic interests.
Many United States companies have a stake in Libyan oil. Moreover, the United States consumes more oil than any other nation in the world, and imports two-thirds of that amount. By explaining the primary reason for intervention as “humanitarian”, the White House is not honestly describing the true justification for involvement. With the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Americans are better able to see through the smoke and mirrors. Unfortunately, there is not much they can do. The White House and the United Nations have come to a decision as Americans can only watch from the sidelines as national spending increases. The White House predicted U.S. involvement would be short but Americans have heard that before. Time will tell how long the United States will stay in Libya, but as long as an American economic interest is threatened, the U.S. will likely remain.