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Published April 03 2011

Nelson: Barefaced lies tarnish shining city

President Barack Obama’s Monday speech on our war with Libya had all the expected Washington elements: barefaced lies, boilerplate, hypocrisy, self-congratulations and deception, and yet a sprig of comedy to lighten the mood. Surely Obama jested when he said that “we are naturally reluctant to use force to solve the world’s many challenges.” Our wars and interventions the past 50 years run into the dozens, none of them in self-defense. No other country comes close.

You might think Obama has a crystal ball. He just somehow knew that “if we waited one more day” for Moammar Gadhafi to take the city of Benghazi, there could be a massacre. And that’s why the coalition of countries that can’t be bothered to stop the massacres in America’s ally Bahrain is there in Libya: To protect Libyan civilians. “We have intervened,” the commander in chief assures us, “to stop a massacre.”

Yet when Gadhafi’s empire struck back and retook various cities from the rebels, such as Ras Lanuf and Zawiya, there was no slaughter of civilians. In fact, the fierce words the dictator breathed about there being no mercy or pity were for the rebel fighters, not civilians, and even then he exempted those rebels who surrendered. Obama knows all this as well as you and I do, thus his palaver about protecting civilians is the big lie in action.

“It was not in our national interest to let that (a massacre) happen,” our trigger-happy president intoned. How so? We let 15 million Soviets die,

60 million Chinese, various millions across the Earth in various places, and deemed none of them a national interest. Now, we do have a humanitarian responsibility to lessen human suffering, but not through making war with other people’s money and children.

Thus it’s foolish policy rife with unforeseen consequences to make aggressive war. But what can be done? Individual Americans can organize and send money to groups that help those such as in Libya and create Lincoln brigades (see the Spanish Civil war) to fight. They have no right otherwise to force their neighbors through taxation to support wars that are not defensive or to use their children as soldiers even if they’re volunteers.

Like George W. Bush, Obama holds up images of bogeymen and scenes of horror and destruction to move the flocks of Americans to his side. To him, unless we settle Gadhafi’s hash pronto, why, liberty across the Mideast will be threatened, the United Nations disrespected and made a laughing stock, and the Earth itself might reel to and fro.

What our profoundly ignorant president doesn’t realize is that it was America’s example, not its warmongering, that unfurled an ensign of liberty across the Mideast. It was our battered but still somewhat shining city on a hill that has inspired revolt, not our bombs and tanks and soldiers. John Quincy Adams was right: Our benignant example, not our force, is our standard to the nations.

Nelson, of Cassleton, N.D., is a Fargo postal worker and regular contributor to The Forum’s commentary page.