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The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman

The Student News Site of Stony Brook University

The Statesman


Operation Odyssey Dawn: What The Future Holds

Operation Odyssey Dawn: the name given to the military operation that spawned from the United Nations resolution 1973, which authorizes member nations to enforce a “no-fly zone” over the North African Nation of Libya. French jets started the attack by firing on Libyan tanks and soon afterwards upwards of 120 self-guided cruise missiles were fired by the U.S and the U.K striking Libyan air and air defense assets.

However, as noble as the mission is to protect civilians the long-term goal of the operation is unclear. So, while it might have an awesome name what it really means for our nation isn’t so obvious. Will we help the rebels take the fight back to Qaddhafi? Will we try to kill him ourselves? Today,over 70 Libyan military vehicles were destroyed on the way to the eastern rebel city of Benghazi.

This was made possible because the resolution also allows the member nations of the U.N to protect civilians using whatever means necessary and this extends beyond purely knocking out Libya’s air capabilities. The Arab League is already claiming that the strikes have crossed the line.

This situation could blow up in our faces very quickly, we could quickly be embroiled in a long-term war and public opinion in the Arab world could flip on a dime and we could become “hated imperialists” over night. America has a thin line to walk and I don’t know if using hundreds of missiles and bombing ground targets is very subtle. Hopefully soon the rest of the nations who are taking part will take the lead and allow America to focus on the other two conflicts that have been waging for almost a decade now.

If the battle continues and Qaddhafi  decides to retreat to his side of Libya then when does the mission end? Does the U.N. help the rebels attack Tripoli? There may even be a possibility where Libya is split down the middle and the region is destabilized even more. How could the world even accept leaving Qaddhafi  in power after the way he has acted? Chances are that we are going to take this fight all the way until Qaddhafi  is ousted from power. Today a bomb landed inside his compound, which is a not so subtle sign to him that we don’t believe he deserves to be around anymore. Further than that when Qaddhafi is kicked out of power that will mediate the regime change?

There are tribes in Libya who do not like each other and have been held together by Qaddhafi  for decades using manipulation and various other tactics. What happens if the nation descends into a civil war between tribes or two rival factions begin vying for power? The possibilities of what could happen are endless and very few of them end well. Saying that, however, I believe that what we are doing is right.

Waiting around for the perfect situation to help others has led to disaster in the past. Bosnia, Sudan, Darfur and other examples come to mind. The United States is not the policeman of the world and it is not our responsibility to sacrifice our own men and women because others cannot get along. This time, however, the world is acting together and when this is the case then the United States should be involved as equally as everyone else.

When it comes to the global picture though the future is even more uncertain. This so-called “Arab Spring” is being hailed by some as the next wave of democracy. Others are worried that it will destabilize an already volatile region and allow more violent and unstable regimes to take over.

People are also afraid that regimes sympathetic to radical extremism will take hold and help harbor terrorists and possibly attack western nations. I am hopeful however that these revolutions are for real.

They seem to be being carried out by a young educated and liberal youth that is laregly staying away from the issue of religion. They seem to be fighting for their freedom and I believe that a large part of this sudden spate of uprisings is simply the result of a situation that has simmered for a very long time and finally boiled over.

No human being enjoys living under duress and under authoritarian or restrictive rule. Over decades and decades of living under these condition and trading security for freedom people have finally decided that enough is enough. The match that lit the powder keg was obviously the uprising in Tunisia but why it happened now is because of the recent digitalization and networking of the world through the Internet. Information is almost impossible to stifle now and as Arabs see how people live freely in the west they too feel that they deserve to live like that.

As revolutions start and governments start committing atrocities as they always begin to do the images of  that violence and repression is spread instantly only magnifying peoples resolve and worsening the position of the authoritarian governments.

Whatever happens we are living through a unique time in global history and a time of great change.  Maybe there will be a time when all nations embrace democracy and human rights for all their people. A world like this would be the most peaceful ever. Believe it or not, and despite what you hear on the news, many historians believe that leaving the 20th century we are now living in the least violent time in human history. People are realizing that war and conflict are not the best ways to solve things and as past wars have show our weapons have become so devastating that war is now usually never worth fighting. As we enter this next decade we can only hope that we continue on the path to less violence and more cooperation.


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