Column: The American way of war is having your cake and eating it too

U.S. foreign military interventions done in the name of democracy should not result in an increase in foreign anarchy.

Tatyana Monnay is a freshman journalism major at MU. She is an opinions columnist who writes about politics for The Maneater.

During my winter break, I watched HBO’s docu-series “Witness.” The four-episode series followed five different photojournalists in their journeys in covering war, devastation and corruption in foreign nations. The second episode featured Libya post Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi’s death. It showed raw footage of pain, death and anguish among the local citizens that triggered something inside of me. I’ve never felt such a visceral reaction to a documentary before. I was suddenly overcome with sadness and anger that I knew belonged not to me, but of the people who lost so much after Qaddafi's rule. This documentary made me think about for the first time in my life, the repercussions, if any, of U.S. invasion and involvement in foreign nations.

In the case of Libya, the country has seen more devastation without Qaddafi. In 2011, the U.S. helped revolutionary fighters overthrow Qaddafi, but what else did we do to further democracy in the country or stabilize the country and its citizens after losing its leader? It is clear we did not finish the job we started.

Something that really stuck out to me in the episode is that multiple people said they were happier under Qaddafi’s rule. They said they had more money, more of their family members like their sons, brothers and fathers were still alive and they were better off. Do not get me wrong; Qaddafi was not a good leader and should have been stopped. But, I do think there could have been other ways to try and help the people of Libya. War should not be taken lightly, and U.S. presidents should not be trigger-happy, especially if they have no plan of rehabilitation.

In 2014, in an interview with the New York Times, Barack Obama said this about NATO’s decision to help overthrow Qaddafi: “‘[W]e [and] our European partners underestimated the need to come in full force if you’re going to do this. Then it’s the day after Qaddafi is gone, when everybody is feeling good and everybody is holding up posters saying, ‘Thank you, America.’ At that moment, there has to be a much more aggressive effort to rebuild societies that didn’t have any civic traditions. … So that’s a lesson that I now apply every time I ask the question, ‘Should we intervene militarily? Do we have an answer [for] the day after?’”

From giving humanitarian aid to other countries to overthrowing corrupt foreign leaders, the United States has arbitrarily made itself the world’s big brother. This is all done in the name of democracy. However, when the U.S. takes out a corrupt foreign leader, such as Qaddafi or Iraq’s Saddam Hussein, it seems as if that country is worse off than it was before with more chaos, pain, death and anarchy.

These unfinished missions often create a bed of chaos that furthers corruption, tyranny and death that gives birth to many more dictators.

Believe me, I understand the argument for invasion and military intervention. I want all countries to have a democratic system and, of course, I do not want people across the world to be abused by their government or have their rights taken away from them. But, is invasion the best way to help these foreign nations?

It is simply unrealistic to believe that our military intervention is the solution to democracy across the world. If we do resort to military intervention, we should do it with a plan that includes rehabilitation for that country and a commitment to its citizens that we will complete the job.

If we really want to free developing nations of their dictatorships, there are other ways we can do that. In lieu of military intervention, we should try sanctions and negotiations first. Then, if all else fails, our government can consider military intervention. Either put a plan in place to achieve peace, or leave it alone. Anarchy can not and does not solve tyranny.

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