Our Blood is Confused
Jesus…am I Gaddafi’s last friend? Am I a monster, too? Dark musings on a cruel anniversary
By David S. LewisPosted Apr 13, 2011
Yesterday, April 12th, marked the 150th anniversary of the beginning of the American Civil War.
No other event in our country’s history so shaped our present course, our national posture. In a four-year-long conflict that cost more American lives than both World Wars combined, our young country tested its government, its peoples, and its fledgling cultural values at their very cores.
In the South, history making is often posted against a timetable that includes Reconstruction as the chiefest marker. The northern areas of our country, and more so the newer western parts, bear far fewer scars than the South. Here we are still busily reconstructing Dixie in our hearts and heads, and try to understand what happened, and why. Was it slavery? Time Magazine’s cover story last week emphatically argued that the enslavement of Africans in the South and the North’s unwillingness to allow the practice to continue as the country expanded westward was the sparking point.
Was it state’s rights? We sincerely believe that, because modern Southerners need to justify our feelings of pride in opposing the Union army, at the cost of so many on each side. It couldn’t have been fought, in all its Antebellum trappings of honor and dignity and sacrifice, for so base and despicable a cause as the keeping of men…and most Southerners didn’t own slaves, anyway. We need for it to have been fought over state’s rights, over our sovereignty, because that allows us to maintain our pride in Dixie.
As the Time writer David Drehle noted, New York was built on the backs of slaves, and Connecticut allowed the practice until 1848, just a few years before the shots rang out at Fort Sumter, South Carolina.
So slavery was certainly one of the primary causes of the Civil War, but it wasn’t the only factor. And, ultimately, its causes are less important than its consequences, namely the abolition of slavery and the freedom of millions of born Americans, and the preservation of the Union.
And that was the real crux of the thing: Like many civil wars, a faction attempted to secede, and the central government, with its military and its money, attempted to stamp out that rebellion, to preserving the boundaries and values it deemed most correct.
What’s good for the goose…
That’s why Libya is so troubling to me. Our incompetence is embarrassing enough; I’m a veteran, and so don’t mind raising my voice when we start blowing up the wrong tanks. Jumping Jesus, but are we bumbling the shooting of expensive munitions at the very people we are trying to protect in our “no-fly, no-tank” zone? Great.
More so, I am a little confused by the whole motivation for intervening in the first place. I heard the supposedly “candid” speech President Obama gave, in which he declared he didn’t want to wait for the images of “slaughter and mass graves.” We damned sure tend to wait around in other places, and like our own country, Libya’s civil war is their own affair. Why are we taking part in the aiding of a rebellion? We put our own down, and we’re happier for it, right?
I think I might have some insight. So often, we simply call oil foul. But, in the case of Moammar Gaddafi and the Libyan insurrection, a fire driven by the winds of this winter’s Jasmine Revolution, the Arab League suspended Libya’s membership, and appealed to the U.N. to step in. The Arab League includes every member nation of the Organization of Petroleum Exporting Countries (OPEC) that produces oil in the region. Libya’s suspension from the Arab League didn’t mean it was also suspended from OPEC, however – it would seem mighty crazy, as Libya’s reserves are some of the largest in the world.
Egypt, by contrast, is not a member of OPEC…because they ain’t got the crude. And, even though the U.S.’s relationship with Egypt’s Hosni Mubarak was long and close, we stayed a good long mile out of that one.
Obama is justifying our airstrikes by saying they are protecting Libyan civilians. Don’t piss down my back and call it rain, Mr. President. Yemen is going straight to hell, and no one is suggesting we commit ordinance to that fracas…and Yemen is also conspicuously not a member of OPEC.
We elected you on the premise that you could get us out of the wars we were in; you didn’t have our blessing to start new ones. And hiding behind the elaborate screen of multilateralism you’ve erected doesn’t keep us from watching our own damned planes spiraling down into the Libya desert. It’s time to go.