A watchful eye, not a loaded gun

Ami Fields-Meyer

Contributing Writer

Last Friday, White House Press Secretary Jay Carney told reporters that military action in Libya is still on the table.

It shouldn’t be.

America need not and must not act as an imperialist regime. It must be a global humanitarian guardian. Mothers and sons alike are being shot dead in the streets. Children are afraid to go to sleep for fear that they will not wake up. Men who try to document the terror are being discreetly disposed of. And it is painful and irrational to try to put a price on human life.

When George W. Bush brought us into Iraq, I was seven years old. Now, I’m sixteen and we still haven’t left. If that is not a frightening and persuasive factor in the fight against fighting, then I don’t know what is. Time will kill Ghadafi – but the ever reverberating impact of international military action will kill many, many more.

We are responsible for keeping a watchful eye on the rest of the world. We are responsible for cutting off Ghadafi’s cash flow and crippling his iron grip. We are responsible for setting in motion international humanitarian efforts. We are responsible for helping Libyans end the violence. But the United States simply cannot impede militarily upon sovereign Libyan land.

In 2006, when Barack Obama was a United States senator, he delivered a speech. During the speech, he spoke about precisely this issue but took a drastically different stance than the one he seems to be mulling over now. If I had a direct line to the oval office, I’d implore him to take some advice from, ironically, himself.

“We should be more modest in our belief that we can impose democracy on a country through military force. In the past, it has been movements for freedom from within tyrannical regimes that have led to flourishing democracies; movements that continue today. This doesn’t mean abandoning our values and ideals; wherever we can, it’s in our interest to help foster democracy through the diplomatic and economic resources at our disposal. But even as we provide such help, we should be clear that the institutions of democracy – free markets, a free press, a strong civil society – cannot be built overnight, and they cannot be built at the end of a barrel of a gun.”

When a man set himself on fire in Tunisia a few months ago, sparks flew across a continent. From those sparks came flames, and from those flames came an inextinguishable wildfire of deliverance.

We no longer live on playground where the world’s most powerful can kick their legs up and watch in amusement as their children run amok, flailing their arms in a bustle of absolute mayhem. The powder keg has exploded. This is the age of human empowerment.

In order to sustain and prolong the streak of emancipation that has swept the globe over the past few months, we must not act on impulse, or even out of empathetic rage. It is, admittedly, a challenging balance to maintain, but the United States must remain both an ally of democracy and a staunch opponent of force.

Featured image: LA Times


  1. “time will kill Ghadafi”? Are you kidding? So we should just wait patiently for Ghadafi to kill all the rebels in his country and just sing Kumbayah in the background? You are very misinformed if you think peace will come by just waiting around in the wings. As Thomas Friedman once said, “the US military is the greatest peacekeeper in the world”. When crazy people like Ghadafi are bombing little children whose parents are in the opposition, humanitarian efforts can only do so much. You know that and I know that. I am scared for the world if people with your mindset end up having leadership roles in the US Government. Would you rather let Ghadafi kill millions of innocents or invade Libya and end the violence quickly? By not using force, we are only fueling Ghadfi’s belief that he actually has legitimate power. Maybe we shouldnt have invaded Germany and let Hitler continue to kill more millions of Jews. Maybe the US should’ve been a “global humanitarian guardian” and asked Hitler nicely if he could stop putting Jews in ovens. It is precisely because we thought we could appease the Nazi regime by not using force that World War II escalated into what it was. Imagine what would’ve transpired if we just “kept a watchful eye” on Hitler and let the war take its course. Unbelievably naive…….


Please enter your comment!
Please enter your name here