Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Moderating My Idealism (with shoes on the ground) - But Still Passionate

CIA operatives in Libya? I hope so. But I also hope they are not engaging in violent overthrow of the Qadafi regime. Intelligence gathering is necessary. Coordinating with legitimate, indigenous Libyan opposition is entirely appropriate. But the CIA should not be creating or leading such an enterprise or actually engaged in covert, violent action. The Congress has responsibilities to oversee this in confidence under national security protections. They and the President are ultimately responsible to the people.

What we don't want is manipulation as in the Eisenhower Administration (he comes up again?) when we used covert operations to overthrow and set up governments in Guatemala and Iran for fear of the spread of communism. The whole Iran interference resulted in serious problems for us 20-some years later that continue still another 20-some years to the present. Nixon and Kissinger interfered in Chile to put Pinochet in power. (Pinochet was charged with crimes against humanity, why not them?) And don't even get me started with Reagan, Ollie North, Poindexter and company.

We will never know what Kennedy would have eventually done with Vietnam had he not been killed. Supposedly, just before Dallas, he was shocked when he learned that our CIA may have played a part in the coup that assassinated Diem. But certainly the CIA operatives and military advisers Kennedy did authorize became significantly more than "mission creep" when Johnson's "best and brightest" (many former advisers to Kennedy) convinced him to escalate that miserable war. They sent massive numbers of troops - at the war's height in 1969 more that half a million US servicemen were there! Obama has got to be smarter than that.

There is a line to be drawn somewhere. Back to considering the "North Star," the Underground Railroad, while clearly illegal in violation of the Fugitive Slave Act and the "property" rights of all those "freedom-loving" southern plantation owners, and while private rather than state action, still seems to be more in the nature of CIA intelligence gathering and support of friendly, legitimate, 'freedom-fighters" for a noble cause. John Brown's Raid, a violent attack on a federal arsenal to arm a slave uprising, however, would be going way too far. Don't kill a deranged fool to turn him into a martyr when he should be tried in the Hague. While there is some temptation to kill one man so a nation can live, as Collin Powell said, "if we break it, we own it." We don't want to own Libya. Iraq was pricey enough.  Please, CIA - don't assassinate Qadafi.

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