It’s an inauspicious beginning. The US engaged militarily in Libya without clearly defined objectives or plans. The French struck first. Apparently they didn’t coordinate with the allies. The explanations advanced for why the US is bombing Libya is for retaliation against past bad acts and because we have an obligation to exert our moral authority.
Commenting on Obama’s changing priorities, a Seattle Times article reported that, “it doesn’t make for a great time to push his education agenda.” I would argue that education is vitally important right now. The first lesson should be understanding how exerting our moral authority in Libya may come back to bite Americans.
Moral authority is a “higher law” whose concepts stem from Judeo-Christian religion and precepts of common law.
Common law? For the most part, that’s practiced in the US and some current and former member countries of the British Commonwealth, none of who are part of the Middle East or North Africa (MENA) region where Libya is located or the other ten or so countries that have been experiencing uprisings. In Libya, Oman, Saudi Arabia, Sudan and Yemen they practice Islamic law. Egypt and Syria mix Islamic law with civil law.
Judeo-Christian? That’s a term that first came into use in the United States. Its definition has been flexible over the years, but in its various forms it defines the Judeo-Christian values that provide the US with moral authority. But in MENA 91.2% of the people are Muslim and 59% are being guided, all or in part, by rules from Islamic law.
If the US is unclear on its objectives, the folks in MENA must be baffled because they don’t share the values of our legal system or our moral authority. Just think about one difference between Judeo-Christian and Muslim values. Judeo- Christians focus on individual values. Islam focuses on the Muslim community. In MENA this is 91.2% of the population.
Is all of this a recipe for stirring up conflict between Judeo-Christians and Muslims? Islamic law does make jihad a religious duty against infidels. Although Judeo-Christians, according to the Islamic faith are not infidels, various interpretations of the jihad law by religious scholars categorize people that inflict injustices or oppression on Muslims as infidels. Could Muslim extremists, which are only a small fraction of Muslims, define the military actions in Libya as unjust or an act of oppression?
I’m sure our politicians are after-the-fact building plans and defining specific objectives for how the US will use our moral authority to protect civilians, like those in Libya while keeping our armed forces off the ground. Let’s hope those plans also include how they are going to protect Americans at home from any unintended consequences.