Sunday, March 27, 2011

Answering Bill O'Reilly's Question with Better Questions

In his recent article, A noble fight in Libya, Bill O'Reilly asked Ron Paul the following question:

“Would you be comfortable, congressman, watching thousands of human beings being slaughtered by a terrorist dictator when you know that your country had the power to prevent it?”

I have a few questions for Bill O'Reilly:

1. Were you comfortable when $470 million in weapons were sold to terrorist dictator Gadhafi's military in 2009 by our European allies? How about the $46 million in U.S. "defense" sales approved by the Bush administration in 2008? Or the $41 million the year before that?

AP reports that, "The $46 million included $1 million in explosives and incendiary agents, and Toner said the State Department approved shipments of blasting cartridges used in oil exploration. Other U.S. officials cited concerns that such explosive agents could be converted to crude battlefield munitions."

How comfortable would you be if another Lockerbie style bombing occurs that can be attributed to Gadhafi and it’s discovered that these U.S. State Department approved explosives were used in the attack?

When these deals were approved, were you busy complaining that the Bush administration and other western leaders were normalizing relations with a terrorist dictator, or were you congratulating them for offering Gadhafi such great incentives to abandon his alleged nuclear program? This is not a rhetorical question. I honestly don’t know. Maybe you can shed some light on these historical events.

What other dictatorships is Washington, DC presently sending money and arms to? How should the U.S. deal with them when they start slaughtering their people or invading neighboring countries? Maybe an ounce of prevention really is worth a pound of cure.

2. Are you comfortable knowing that the federal government has already spent hundreds of millions of dollars on it’s war in Libya?

What the total cost of the war will be when it’s all over can’t be predicted any more than the number of innocent lives that may or may not be saved by it can be. It will surely be in the billions of dollars. I know a price tag should not be placed on saving the lives of innocent people, which is supposedly why Obomb’em ordered U.S. forces to create the no-fly zone and launch cruise missiles like crazy. But if it’s really all about preventing the death of innocent civilians ...

Consider the fact that somewhere between 1 and 1.5 million people die from malaria every year. If this intervention is about preventing the deaths of innocent people in Africa, there’s arguably a much easier way to save a lot more lives for every dollar spent than by using military force.

Mosquito nets treated with insecticides cost about $10 each and the cost of treatment for a single bout of malaria is between 8 and 30 cents. So, if the hundreds of millions of dollars spent on Libya so far is to prevent innocent civilian deaths, it can certainly be argued that far more lives could be saved using that money to fight malaria, rather than fighting Gadhafi.  

How many lives could be saved by using the money spent in Libya to purchase and distribute these nets to Africans in many countries south of Libya, free of charge? Trials have shown that mosquito nets treated with insecticides can reduce deaths in children by one fifth and episodes of malaria by half. 

So without even taking into consideration the “collateral damage”, which is always part of “humanitarian” air wars, you do the math. My guess is that inexpensive mosquito nets have the potential to prevent far more innocent deaths than high priced fighter jets and cruise missiles ever could. 

On the other hand, distributing mosquito nets and malaria medications to needy folks in sub-Saharan Africa doesn't involve big explosions or drama that includes an evil dictator everyone loves to hate. You know... the things that keep everyone glued to their TV set and makes those otherwise boring news stories really exciting and entertaining!

Maybe the question that nobody wants to ask, but really needs to be asked is this:

How many lives could be saved if the noble, generous Americans you speak of hadn't been robbed of their money (this includes those alive today and those yet to be born), to finance this and other “humanitarian” wars?” Surely individual Americans could have put that money to better use by giving it away to the private charities that exist solely for the purpose of saving lives.
Which organization do you imagine would find a way to stretch each dollar given to them and use it more wisely? The Pentagon, or just about any private humanitarian relief organization?

I urge you to open your eyes and consider not only the costs of this war which are easily seen, but the hidden costs of all wars, which usually remain unseen.

3. While we’re on the subject of saving innocent human lives... Were you comfortable with the brutal sanctions against Iraq, which lasted for over a decade and contributed to the deaths of hundreds of thousands of Iraqi children? You wrote in your article:

This is not a complicated issue. If America is indeed a noble country, it should act to save lives when it can. That doesn’t mean getting bogged down in such quagmires as Iraq, Afghanistan and Vietnam. But when quick, decisive action can defeat evil, it should be taken.”

Did you, by any chance, support lifting the sanctions mentioned above in order to save innocent lives of Iraqi children? Or did you complain that the sanctions weren't being enforced strictly enough? 

Would you consider those sanctions to have been a quick and decisive measure? Did they do anything to defeat the Saddam’s evil regime?

Sanctions almost never do anything to undermine or weaken dictatorial regimes. Instead, they almost always hurt innocent civilians and actually help keep dictators in power by destroying their political opposition.

4. Last question. Right now the U.S. government borrows 43 cents out of every dollar it spends. The Federal Reserve has facilitated this borrowing and these days it actually purchases U.S. Treasury bonds with money it creates out of thin air. Since these deceptive, destructive methods of financing the government's programs will surely have long term negative consequences for the value of the dollar and American prosperity in general... 
Would you be comfortable with having the American people actually pay for all future military interventions, including the one in Libya, in their lifetime?

This would require a big change from the way Americans are used to doing war. It would mean much higher, more noticeable taxes right now, rather than "kicking the can down the road" through hidden taxes like inflation and /or having future generations shoulder even higher taxes, just so they can service the interest on the national debt we continue to create.

Think carefully before you answer, and be sure to keep this in mind. As long as Americans of voting age don’t actually have to pay for the wars authorized by their federal government out of their own pockets (in the form of higher taxes), most of them will never even bother asking the kinds of questions I’ve just asked you to answer.

No comments:

Post a Comment