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Saturday, April 30, 2011

A Story of Rebellion

Rebels seize one third of the country.

A quarter of the government troops surrender to rebel forces.

Government-owned military bases seized by rebels.

Government outpost defends itself against attack, falls to rebel forces.

President calls for troops to restore order.

Chief of military resigns and joins rebel forces.

Rebel forces defeat government troops as they approach the capital.

Rebel forces seek European assistance.

Military forces attack and retake two government military installations.

13,000 government troops killed in surprise attack by rebels.

Fierce fighting near the capital forces government retreat.

European mercenaries assist rebel forces.

More than 26,000 killed in one day of heavy fighting between government and rebel troops.

Rebel forces cause costly losses in battle with government elite forces.

...

Has anyone figured out what story I'm writing here? If you weren't paying attention, you might think I was describing the fighting in Libya. You might be baffled a bit by the details, but it sounds like what we're getting on the news. Well, it's not. This is a description of the first two years of ... wait for it ... the American Civil War. Now, I'm not saying that the government of Libya is right and I'm certainly not saying that Libya's president is on a moral crusade, but I find it hard to believe that this is not viewed as a civil war instead of a "battle for freedom". I recently heard a report about how government troops were killing Libyan citizens in the fighting. "He's killing his own people," one person complained. In the American Civil War, no numbers of civilian deaths were kept, but estimates place it at around 50,000 people. That's an astounding and horrible number. Still, Americans believe that America was right to terminate the rebellion in the 1860's but applaud the rebels in Libya today. Why? What's different? And are we so sure?

We don't know who the rebels are. We do know that they are backed by the same people that fought the U.S. in Iraq after the fall of Saddam Hussein. We aren't pleased at all with Libya's president, but does that mean that we should be opposing his what would appear to be legitimate attempts to reunite his own country? Or should we say that Europe should have intervened in the 1860's and ensured that the rebels remained independent? At least, if we were going to be consistent, that would seem to be the case.

5 comments:

von said...

Well, I knew who you were talking about. And I don't think the government was right to surpress the rebels in that case,either.

In the case of Libya I would declare a plague on both houses.

Stan said...

What a different world it would be.

But ... would you have favored Europe stepping in to stop the American government from suppressing the rebels?

von said...

An interesting question. I read a book the other day that forced me to face just that question.

I would have had them break the blockade, at the very least. I don't really believe in 'neutrality'; but it would really frost me to have somebody tell me I couldn't trade with a country just because some 'they' wanted to enslave them.

Stan said...

Given this perspective that rebels should be allowed to rebel, that the government should not be allowed to maintain a united country, I would assume that you're behind the rebels in Libya as well as the rebels of the American Civil War?

von said...

The whole question of 'rebels' depends a lot upon the fundamental law/nature of the country. Our country was founded upon the concept that the fundamental governing unit was the state, which itself depends on the consent of the governed.

It was a fundamental contradiction for the federal government to 'preserve the union' in the face of secession. The right to secede, according to the founders. "We hold these truths to be self-evident... deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed."