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Boots on the Ground

by on June 7, 2011

Time, that inexorable force which alters opinion, has persuaded me that the military intervention – bombing, essentially – which the United States pursued in Libya is not to be expected elsewhere.  Syria has been in revolt as long as Libya.  There has been no outcry from governments to intervene in Syria as there was intervention in Libya.  Why?  I can think of two reasons: resources and requests.  One is tangible; the other, intangible.  In the paradox of man, it is far harder to prove tangible reasons than intangible reasons.

We intervened in Libya for intangible reasons.  Rebels in Libya requested aid, after realizing they could not win without assistance.  We, the several Western intervening powers, sent aid to Libya.  Perhaps we should have, perhaps we should not have.  Time, that strange force, will tell us.  It’s hard to touch or otherwise perceive a request, except with our eyes or ears.  It is not hard to touch or otherwise perceive resources natural resources a country produces.  Does Libya produce more (that interests us) than Syria?  Is there oil?

Libya is the 16th largest producer of oil in the world, responsible, before the recent turmoil, for about 2 percent of world production, or around 1,600,000 barrels per day. Yemen and Bahrain are also oil producers — but far smaller. Bahrain pumps out 45,000 barrels per day; Yemen, 260,000.

The mentions of Yemen and Bahrain result from their internal struggles in March. Bahrain resolved its issues. Yemen continues to rebel. The article doesn’t mention Syria, but Syria produces about “410,000 barrels per day.”

Libyan rebels made a clear request that they needed assistance, but they are not alone in the world.  We intervened – we are intervening – in Libya, but not in Syria.  If we are assisting rebels (is it really rebellion to overthrow a corrupt government?) in Syria, in Yemen, in Bahrain, or in numerous other places, it is in a covert manner.

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