On Sunday, members of my congregation were murmuring, not at all happy that the United States is involved in yet another war.
“Why does the United States have to try to go in and protect everybody?” said one exasperated member. “Why can’t we let those folks fight their own battles?”
I found myself agreeing. We cannot afford to be in another war; in my mind, we need to get out of the wars we are in. The people of America are hurting and spending to help “our own” are being cut even as lawmakers attempt to reduce the deficit.
And now, this.
As I watched the situation unfold, I found myself despising politics more than I normally do, as well as America’s position as the number one nation in the world. As “number one,” it is generally assumed and believed that we do have a moral obligation to go in and defend and protect “the least of these” even as our own “least” falter.
The Obama administration was already being criticized for not doing anything as concerns Libya, and when the administration finally joined in with the other allies, it was criticized (particularly by Sen. John McCain) for waiting too long to act. As crusaders for freedom and human rights, we are supposed to act quickly and decisively on matters such as these. To wait and think and ponder the implications, not only in the court of public opinion, but on “least of these” whose potential for support will be cut as dollars go to war, is deemed to be a sign of weakness.
It becomes a matter of deciding which set of morals is more important to a world power. Is it moral to let innocent people of another country be slaughtered by a ruthless dictator and take care of our own first, or is it more moral to help our own first, creating a stronger and more cohesive nation, before running off to help everyone else?
The stage of world politics, unfortunately, is not concerned so much with nations taking care of their own, as it is concerned with nations assuming and inserting their “power” in matters that probably have great economic implications for them down the line. To ignore Libya is to, on one level, ignore the cries of innocent people being slain by Gafhafi’s forces, but in a larger sense it is to set America in a precarious position for maintaining and growing its economic reach.
Our concern in the Middle East, it seems to me, has been far more about the economics of oil than it has been about the welfare of the people, rhetoric notwithstanding. The United States did little to stop Hitler during World War II, andsaid little about his treatment of the Jews…and if ever there was a need to make a moral intrusion and statement, it was then. So, this conversation about the United States having a moral responsibility to help the Libyans, while I think it’s noble and all, rings hollow to me.
My prayer is that the involvement of the United States in Libya will be short; “the least of these” on our own soil cry out and are not only not being heard, but are having vital services threatened by budget cuts. I want the Libyan civilians to be OK, but I want hard-working Americans to be OK as well.
If we cannot take care of our own, it seems hypocritical and almost cruel to keep doling out dollars to help others.
Susan K. Smith | Mar 23, 2011 11:39 AM