I believe that revolutions will only be successful if they are done by the native populations of the countries where they are protesting. Outside interference diminishes the changes of success. It will also discourage other people of other countries when the US gets involved violently, but does nothing when our "allies" use violence and we remain silent. That is what is happening in Bahrain right now - the revolution has been silenced by violence from the Bahrain government and from Saudi Arabia sending in troops and tanks.
Also, the changes of success are doubled if the revolutions stay non-violent, as per this report.
Of course, Libya did not stay non-violent. They showed up early with serious weapons, like machine guns. Some of Gaddafi's military defected to the rebels, and brought their weapons with them.
While it is very hard to watch people shouting "Peaceful, Peaceful" get fired on with live bullets - it is even harder for me to watch little children climbing on tanks in Libya that have been bombed by the US. In both cases, people will die. In the live fire, it will be adults who are killed and it will not further kill people long into the future. In the second, it is the children who will get cancer and die years later, and the incidence of birth defects and cancer will go on for decades, due to the exposure to depleted uranium. The death toll will go long into the future, and hurt the babies and children the most.
This is what happened in Fallujah.
Now, the really interesting thing in Libya is that we are helping the rebels, at least some of whom are aligned with al Qaeda. The people in these area have sent sons to Iraq to be suicide bombers and to fight. This is who the US are bombing for, and this is the group who we are talking about arming, training, and funding in the near future.
Here is some information on the rebels.
Here is some more info on the rebels from a few years back.
I think even the right wing nuts would be against having a war to help al Qaeda, although they do seem to be strongly in favor of war in most cases. Senator McCain went on and on about how we should be having war with Gaddafi - and he seems to forget that a couple of years ago he visited Gaddafi and urged the US to sell him weapons. (I am sick of selling weapons around the world to every dictator or tyrant who wants them. I think the sale of all weapons outside of the USA should
Make no mistake: those rebels do have legitimate complaints against Gaddafi. He is responsible for making the area so poor that they are willing to become suicide bombers in Iraq or try to kill Gaddafi or use violence to over throw him. The slogan "Jobs, not Wars" comes to mind. But I feel we should NOT be supporting these rebels in a violent manner at all, and particularly NOT give them weapons or funding. And we need jobs here at home, so I do not favor a jobs program in Libya at this time (if ever).
And it appears the rebels are just as vicious as Gaddafi. They are using the same prisons and tactics.
And the chances of having a successful outcome are very slim (I would have thought that this lesson would have been learned from the Iraq and Afghanistan fiascoes! But, I guess not.)
What does social science tell us about the US intervention in Libya?
"According to Downes, because deposing an existing regime and bringing new leaders to power "disrupts state power and foments grievances and resentments." To make matter worse, the probability of civil war in the aftermath of foreign imposed regime change increases even more when it is accompanied by defeat in inter-state war, and when it occurs in poor and ethnically heterogeneous countries." This isn't reassuring either, given that Libya's is still a poor society (because the Qaddafi family monopolizes the oil revenues) and it remains divided into potentially fractious tribes."
Finally, here is a cable about extremism in eastern Libya in 2008.
I really think that the US involvement with Libya will cause a civil war there, and massive human suffering. It will cause more damage to our reputation in the world and to our financial position. As Bob Herbert said, we have lost our way.
From Bob Herbert: "When the most powerful country ever to inhabit the earth finds it so easy to plunge into the horror of warfare but almost impossible to find adequate work for its people or to properly educate its young, it has lost its way entirely."