Burch: From Libya to Tennessee

Thursday, August 25, 2011 at 10:05pm
By Michael R. Burch

We live in an increasingly smaller, more interconnected world — and the recent situation in Libya highlights this. It also spurs the question: What does the likely fall of the Muammar el-Qaddafi regime mean for Tennesseans?

For Tennesseans who serve in the U.S. military, a quick end to Qaddafi's bizarre, often brutal dictatorship will mean less chance that they may be killed or injured themselves, and that they will not be involved in operations that result it Libyan civilians ending up dead, wounded or homeless, however unintentionally. A major problem with U.S. military operations overseas is that our soldiers (and, therefore, our government and nation) end up being blamed for civilian casualties, which are almost inevitable when bombs and missiles start flying. So the sooner we end military operations in Libya, the better.

For all Tennesseans and for our brothers and sisters in Libya, there is the hope that a more stable Libyan government will emerge, and that hostilities between our nations can finally end forever. But of course every revolution carries the risk that someone just as bad (or perhaps even worse) will end up in power. So the coming days will likely be fraught with both hope and fear, especially for the people who live in the region.

Perhaps what we see happening in Libya suggests that the U.S. needs a “Reagan Doctrine” of limited military objectives and methods when we are not under direct attack. Ronald Reagan did use American military power at times, but he kept us out of major ground wars.

When Qaddafi sponsored terrorism in the 1980s, Reagan ordered our military to attack Tripoli, but he didn’t try to invade Libya and institute a democracy.

When suicide bombers killed 241 American marines on a peacekeeping mission in Lebanon in 1983, Reagan withdrew our troops from the region.

The first war against Saddam Hussein was fought with the limited objective of forcing Iraq to remove its military from Kuwait and honor its borders. While these operations were not perfect, they did not result in thousands of American deaths and trillions of American taxpayer dollars vanishing down the drain.

In Libya, the Obama administration didn’t repeat the mistakes made by the George W. Bush administration, when Dick Cheney said “Deficits don’t matter” and Donald Rumsfeld promised that the war in Iraq would be over in no more than five months. Hopefully we have learned an important lesson: American military power has its limitations and no amount of firepower can force other nations to welcome and embrace democracy.

Michael R. Burch is a Nashville-based editor and publisher of Holocaust poetry and other “things literary” at www.thehypertexts.com.

44 Comments on this post:

By: yogiman on 8/25/11 at 10:37


Our nation of today isn't close to being the same nation we had 30 years ago.

Our service people are placed into combat zones with one hand tied behind their backs. I honestly can't remember the last war we have to win. We haven't been in a "war" since WWII. They have only been declared "conflicts". But conflicts of whose interest.

Why can't a soldier not be allowed to fire until they are fired at? Why are they being charged with murder if a civilian is killed in a combat session.

What is the last nation we have been in combat with where their "soldier" wore uniforms? How are they supposed to know their "enemy"? Ask them, before they fire?

I'll place my argument again: Put the "leaders" of the conflicting nations in a room and lock the door. The ones who come out walking will be declared the winner.

Sure would save a lot of lives and the ones that got killed in that room wouldn't matter. The people could always elect someone else.

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 4:41

You must of slept during the 60's and 70's at the height of the Vietnam war.
It wasn't a "conflict" It went thru 4 US Presidents.
58,000 dead.
Napalm was used to incinerate whole villages, including women and children.
Iraq, an invasion, then occupation, was completely uncalled for and Afghanistan is a loser, any way you cut it.
Our Drones go off course and kill innocent civilians.
Blood is on America's hands, especially the fools who vote these warmongers into office.

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 5:07

Mr. Burch:
Watching the Libian rebels run around like screaming hyeanas, firing machine guns at everything in sight, burning cars and buildings....who exactly are these "rebels"?
They will elect a new leader who will be able to bring everyone together and live in peace? Hardly.It will be a power/ money grab like we witnessed in Iraq and Afghanistan.
The US will be called on (or bogart our way in) to "assist" in this "democratic process".
Next up: Syria.

By: gdiafante on 8/26/11 at 5:38

Washington is turning in his grave (for the umpteenth time...)

Foreign entanglements...yeah right. The Military Industrial Complex will never let us truly return to the days when the U.S. only sold weapons to the combatants instead of actually participating.

Imagine the money we could save...the country has completely ignored the lessons the U.S.S.R learned in Afghanistan.

It doesn't surprise me...have you heard some of the revisionist American history that passes as truth these days...If we can't even get our own history right, good luck with someone else's...

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 5:43


You apparently don't know the legal difference between "war" and "conflict". A war is a conflict that must be declared as war by a vote from Congress to make such declaration. That has not happened since WWII.

By: serr8d on 8/26/11 at 5:51

Our military does a fine job when they are unleashed, and the United Nations remains uninvolved. They kill people and break things: that's what they are for. Get over it.

Increasingly stringent 'Politically Correct' requirements hamper their abilities to perform their duties. The latest PC nonsense from Afghanistan? Marines are no longer allowed to audibly pass gas anywhere near Afghanis.

You think I'm kidding, right?

So here’s the news: audible farting has been banned for some Marines downrange because it offends the Afghans.

I know there are many things in the Afghan culture that don’t seem normal to Americans and it’s hard to spend seven months working in someone else’s back yard. Still, the Marines I saw downrange are doing a pretty good job at trying to do the right thing around the Afghans.


One commenter opines...

So, let me get this right. For a culture who looks at female life as less than that of a farm animal, who educates almost no one, who wipes their ass with their hand, and will have sex with farm animals; farting is offensive? Here’s the problem with our leadership, we have no leadership with any balls.

Semper fidelis, and let 'em rip.

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 5:57

Yogi: Ok, so now your big on definitions.
Here's one for you: Barack H. Obama is the 46th President of the United States.
Your constant yammering about his name change and he's not there legally is absurd.
You're the type to argue whether Vietnam was a "war" in the classic "WW II" sense or just a "conflict".
And obviously Congress doesn't have to "Declare War" for the US President to engage our military to bomb, invade, and occupy another soveriegn Nation.

By: harrystatel on 8/26/11 at 6:01

I wouldn't trade one American life for 10,000 Libyans, nor would I fight to overthrow Gadhafi until he's invading American soil.

Bush's wars, Obama's war, I'm not fighting and dying for the empire nor killing for Halliburton, Bank of America, or Lieberman, McCain and Nelson. Nor Obama, the Federal Reserve, Israel, or Palestine.

Waiting for Uncle Sugar and his Merry Band of Thugs to suspend habeas corpus (like Lincoln), to throw dissenting newspaper editors in prison (Lincoln), to throw political dissents in prison (John Adams, Lincoln and Woodrow Wilson), to send US citizens to concentration camps (Franklin Roosevelt)and have military tribunals imprison, try, and convict civilians (Lincoln, Wilson, Roosevelt, Bush, Obama). Not to mention the US Empire’s invasions and occupations from the Philippines, Nicaragua, Panama, Cuba, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan, Yemen, Libya (waiting for Iran and Syria to join the list).

Just business as usual where the US government engages in Perpetual War and Perpetual Welfare. I'm not dying for either.

By: govskeptic on 8/26/11 at 6:08

What is the point here, are we to believe the President had a great deal to do with
the overthrow? Is there some great new foreign policy on display in this skirmish
with a population about the same as Tennessee's?

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 6:14

I believe Gadaffi was responsible for the Pan Am flight 103 above Lockerbie Scotland being blown up.
Killing many Americans. Ergo, Gadaffi invaded American soil.

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 6:19

this just in my wires...Pan Am 103 had 259 on board. All were killed. 179 were Americans returning to NYC from Heathrow in London.
Sounds like a terrorist plot to me, a precursor to 9-11.

By: harrystatel on 8/26/11 at 6:32

100,000 plus Iraqis killed with women and children killed as collateral damage. Afghan old men, women and children killed, just collateral damage.

Ergo, the US government invaded foreign countries.

Sounds like a terrorist plot to me.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 6:42

By: yogiman on 8/25/11 at 11:37

Our nation of today isn't close to being the same nation we had 30 years ago.


From the master of the unintelligent BS, comes this. The world changes and you never have and never will. You walk through life with your mind (and I use the word mind loosely) wanting everything to be the way you deem it to be. It has not work in all the time you have been alive and it want be that way after you gone. So get old fool.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 6:54

How many American lives has been lost in this rebellion in Libya? So far the Obama strategy seems s to be working. But then the Birthers will only see the negative.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 7:12

Todays Funny

By: yogiman on 8/25/11 at 7:48
One fact is; you never get to know someone until you know them.(this is obivous) And you'll get to know them better every time they open their mouth.

We know this old shakl il nahaan for the micro brain perrty good now.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 7:24

s/h/b pertty

By: dargent7 on 8/26/11 at 7:27

harryS: Over the past 4 decades, The United Staes IS the world's #1 sponsor of terrorism. (this ought to make them cackle).

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 7:38


Since George Bush was the 43rd president, who was the 44th and 45th presidents? Or did we just let congress "rule" the nation until Barry Soetoro could get "put in" the office as president?

Now, I know you are "better educated" than I, but you better go back to school and take a few more civic lessons.

The President only has the authority to order an engagement in case of emergency. That determination is held for only a few days when 'he' must get the approval from congress.

Now, tell me, why did Barry Soetoro think he didn't need the approval of congress after his presidential order on Libya? Is he above the law?

What college did you go to, and what class did you take? Maybe you should do a little bit of home study.

By: serr8d on 8/26/11 at 7:39

harrystatel.. Ergo, the US government invaded foreign countries.

Sounds like a terrorist plot to me.

You sound like a wussy to me.

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 7:42


Pertty seems to be pretty good for you; since you "spelled" it the same both times.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 7:47

Read farther old fart.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 7:54

Yep, serr8d is starting to stammer.

By: serr8d on 8/26/11 at 8:00

Mr. Nemo, you've more than got your hands full with Mr. Yogi. Don't start with me; I'll wipe the aisles of the internet with your bloated carcass. As I've done before.

By: harrystatel on 8/26/11 at 8:19

"By: serr8d on 8/26/11 at 8:39

harrystatel.. Ergo, the US government invaded foreign countries.

Sounds like a terrorist plot to me.

You sound like a wussy to me."

If I don't want to kill those who have done me no harm, if I don't want to die for imperialism, if I don't want to murder indiscriminately for the US government or on a "Crusade for Christ" makes me a wussy, sign me up.

But in fact, I'm a libertarian--anti-war, anti-state, pro free markets.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 8:28

You have done it so far serr8d, why do it now.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/26/11 at 8:32

Between harrystate1 and Moonglow you are the one that seems to beuse as a mop. Now have a good weekend. I will see you on Monday.

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 8:34

Thanks, dumba..,

I enjoyed your advice to read those posts showing you to being the damned fool you are proving yourself to be.

Thanks for the laugh.

By: brrrrk on 8/26/11 at 9:23

yogiman said

"You apparently don't know the legal difference between "war" and "conflict". A war is a conflict that must be declared as war by a vote from Congress to make such declaration. That has not happened since WWII."

Interesting legal parsing, but quite frankly parsing that the guys getting shot at really don't give a rats ass about. Blood is red, regardless of whether it's a conflict or a war.

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 10:45


Call it what you wish. As one of those on this site who are constantly trying to belittle me based on your knowledge, please read the legal definitions . Legally speaking, war and conflict are exactly what I posted. Check it out with your congressperson.

I agree, having been there, I don't like war. Except for the few service members I knew who wanted "medals", I have known no other vets who wanted to be in a war.

Red might look good on the roof of your home, but it looks like hell on the heart position of your shirt.

By: brrrrk on 8/26/11 at 12:00

yogiman said

"Call it what you wish. As one of those on this site who are constantly trying to belittle me based on your knowledge, please read the legal definitions . Legally speaking, war and conflict are exactly what I posted. Check it out with your congressperson."

First of all, I know that the legal definitions of a conflict and a war are different... but as usual you missed to point. But rather than agree with my premise that, to the guys fighting, the definitions mean nothing, you prefer to go for the passive aggressive insult. And you wonder why you get the responses that you get......

By: yogiman on 8/26/11 at 12:32

No, brrrrk,

I haven't wondered for quite some time now on your responses to my comments. I think I've got your number concerning your thought of me. So be it. What you and the others think of me is your pleasure. It means nothing to me.

As I see it; if I don't agree with you, I'm wrong. Sorry, I don't agree with you.

By: Mike Burch on 8/26/11 at 3:53


My main objection to using the US military in the Middle East is that people on both sides are dying, our nation has 14.3 trillion in debt, and after nearly ten years both Iraq and Afghanistan are far from being viable democracies. The best soldiers on the planet cannot create viable democracies, so why not admit the obvious facts of life on this planet, and stop trying to do the impossible?

By the way, I’m a finalist in the columnist competition for the Tennessean. If you like my articles you can vote at the link below:


Each of the eight articles by the finalists appears in the rightmost column, below the weather info. The voting section appears below the articles. I must admit that I would really like to win the competition, and I think my article merits consideration. If I win the competition, I will use the platform to address important topics such as achieving peace in the Middle East without blowing it up and bankrupting Americans in the process. If you like my article and have the time, your vote would be greatly appreciated. Votes must be cast before August 31.


By: Loner on 8/27/11 at 7:14

Good luck, Mike.

If Rick Perry becomes our next Commander-In-Chief, we can expect more Holy War at Israel's behest. As a born-again Christian, Perry may fancy himself as some sort of liberator of the Holy Land; he has visited Israel more than any other candidate and he is an outspoken apologist for the IDF, the Mossad etc.

Perry has signed the anti-abortion pledge. He would outlaw abortion services for American women; but he has never spoken out about the state-sponsored abortion clinics in Israel. . Between 20,000 and 50,000 abortions are performed in Israel every year; in spite of that, Israel is still the number one recipient of US foreign aid.

Rick Perry must feel that Israeli women are entitled to abortion services, but US women are not. How can any anti-abortion candidate support US aid to Israel?

By: serr8d on 8/27/11 at 8:01

Mike, are all the candidates dirty socialists? Let's see...

Damn. I liked Frank Nolan's "Government Divides Nation".

Yours is disingenuous I think. You actually pretend to support the troops (well, the dead ones anyway), when we who can 'read between the lines' know you are of the Clinton "Ah LOATHE me some MILITARY!" mindset. You would dismantle the military in a heartbeat, to further support Marxist philosophies in America.

Of the 8 opinion pieces, three were indecipherable pablum; three were pure LeftLibProgg crapstains; the choice between yours and Frank Nolan's pieces?

Nolan gets my vote.

By: serr8d on 8/27/11 at 8:03

Loner, you are one-track-minded.

I swears, if it weren't for the JOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOs!!1!!11!! you would be bereft of anything to write about.

By: yogiman on 8/27/11 at 8:59

Let's see, Perry was an Al Gore democrap but for some reason he switched from the democrat party to the republican party... after Al lost the election. Why? Did he begin to think the republicans had a better chance to get him in an office?

I have known few people in my life that have switched from one political party to another; for reasons known only to themselves but I sure can't see that fast of a change in political beliefs.

I would say it was usually for self gain. The parties didn't mean much personally, except reasonable thinking people.

And yeah, serr8d, remember, Loner was a one man mail carrier. He had too much time to think when he was running his route. And because of the weather "up yonder" he had to gripe about something mentally important. So... what better topic for him than Israel?

By: Loner on 8/27/11 at 5:54

Serr, it's not that I am obsessed with all things Jewish, as you constantly insist...it's the US-Israel "special relationship" that so concerns me...it should concern every American.

After all, Bin Laden explained his motives for 9-11; the US-Israel special relationship was the top agenda item. As an Arab, he reasoned that a friend of his enemy, (Israel), was his enemy too. We in the US feel that an enemy of Israel, ("the Arabs"), are our enemies too...that's AIPAC propaganda.

Contrary to popular myth, what's good for the state of Israel is not always good for the USA; in fact our true national interests are often at odds with each other. Our core values are not at all identical, as Israeli propaganda would have us believe. The Israelis know all that and act accordingly. Americans, however, have been duped; we think that Israel is our "greatest ally" and best friend. We are suckers.

The US invaded and occupied Afghanistan and Iraq as a direct result of our special relationship with the apartheid-loving Israelis. Israel is lobbying for us to strike Iran next.
Israel has endless enemies, of course.

And still the ingrate Israelis hate President Obama's guts; it's this senseless Israeli hate for Obama that may cause the Jewish vote to flip over to the Republican side; huge amounts of formerly Democratic cash would go with those disgruntled American Jews....the GOP's bank account would swell to historic levels.

So, there it is, Serr, I resent the foreign influence on our political system and I reject the idea that Israel's enemies are America's enemies. America needs to put its own needs and desires first, not those of a utopian apartheid theocracy in Palestine.

Of course, you, Serr8d, are an apologist for Zionist extremism and IDF war crimes. You do not care if Israel has full US representation and full US compensation without US taxation. You give your blessing to giving the Israelis other people's money in a wealth redistribution scheme, where people who do not pay US taxes receive huge US benefits.
And although you are a foe of abortion, Serr8d, you give the Israelis a pass on that...you look the other way.

I'm looking out for America's interests, Serr, you are looking out for Israel's interests. Which one of us not being rational? Which one of us is the greater American patriot?

You should convert to Judaism, make aliyah to Israel and join the IDF, Serr, that's where your allegiance lies. Besides, you hate the federal government; why not go to work for those who share your contempt for Obama and Washington?

By: yogiman on 8/28/11 at 6:35


This issue about serr8d's "friendship" with Israel makes me wonder about your comment to "him" about "his" feeling toward Israel. You virtually deny "his" respect for Israel, but you are virtually adamant with your "respect" for the man sitting in our nation's Oval Office whom you virtually know nothing about. Why such an attitude? Should everyone think the same... as long as they are using your thoughts?

To enhance your love of Barry Soetoro (or Barack Obama: the choice on names is yours) go to longliveamerica.com and read the findings of experts on the issue. Some of it you can even hear them.

Try it, you might like it.

By: Captain Nemo on 8/28/11 at 1:18

Shut up shakl il nahaan

By: yogiman on 8/28/11 at 2:53

Please quit spreading your intelligence, dumba... You're showing your ignorance too much.

By: bfra on 8/28/11 at 3:44

yogi - Looks like Nemo is lots smarter than you, he recognizes a snake in the grass and you just try to pet on them.

By: yogiman on 8/28/11 at 7:29

I'm just trying to copy you, bfra. I would like for people to recognize me as "intelligent" as you and your 'friend' dumba..

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