Greeted as Liberators
So The Guardian reports that Libyan villagers attempting to help downed U.S. airmen were rewarded for their efforts by U.S. forces firing on them:
Libyans who went to investigate the US warplane’s crash site said that a US helicopter had come in with guns firing, creating panic and wounding onlookers, some of whom had to be taken to hospital; one 20-year-old man is expected to have his leg amputated.
The villagers said they had been searching for the plane’s missing airmen to welcome them and help them.
A member of the Libyan rebel forces at the site of the crash, Omar Sayid, a colonel of the military police, told Channel Four News: “We are disturbed about the shooting, because if they’d given us a chance we would have handed over both pilots. This shooting created panic.”
The article also reports that the airmen had been accidentally ejected from their fighter jet, not shot down. “One hid in a sheep pen before being found by rebel forces, hugged, given juice and food, and taken to Benghazi.” Emphasis mine — because if you are Nicholas Kristof, that’s the part of the story that really matters.
Doubts are reverberating across America about the military intervention in Libya. Those questions are legitimate, and the uncertainties are huge. But let’s not forget that a humanitarian catastrophe has been averted for now and that this intervention looks much less like the 2003 invasion of Iraq than the successful 1991 gulf war to rescue Kuwait from Iraqi military occupation.
That the citizens of Benghazi held a thank you rally in honor of intervention forces is a positive thing that I hope to see much more of. But we can’t cherry-pick the positive developments from the negative, or vice-versa; such things exist in tandem in war at the best of times, as The Guardian story illustrates. And for fuck’s sake, stop white-washing the past!