There is a moment in Steven Soderbergh's biopic of Guevara, at the beginning of the end for the Batista regime, where the communist guerrilla negotiates with an army officer regarding the latter's surrender. Guevara warns him of the possibility of American invasion and argues that, should this happen, the officer would be guilty of far worse than oppression. He would be guilty of treason.
There is perhaps no greater symbol of oppression, authority, humiliation, and impotence than that of a country invaded by another. It is superior to and replicative of the act of rape. It is a thousand times worse than murder, more traumatic than anything an individual can face.
And yet we care because of the individuals, and in truth there is no consciousness but the personal consciousness. Nations feel nothing. Borders exist nowhere but where men may talk and women walk.
The group, the people, the nation, the society, the congregation... They are all fictional, are they not?
And yet by inviting a foreign aggressor or welcoming them or working with them, is there not some potent rage that wells up in us? Who can deny the scorn and disgust that rises up when one considers the bloody-handed expatriates who have hunted abroad for wealthy and powerful patrons who might help them settle old scores, all under the name of "liberation"? Is there any being so loathsome as a comfortable exile with a DC address and an Italian wife? Far better for a man to be a tyrant than to be a tyrant's rationale, for one is a body and the other an organ to perform a task and be otherwise forgotten.
And yet I think of Prussians and Poles who aided us. But they were weak and their enemies strong. Likewise the Wild Geese. Likewise the Anatolian Greeks who parried between Persia and their so-called ethnoi. But did they not deal between great powers, playing one against the other?
Is this a noble thing or is it ugly?
What kind of man are we to consider Einstein when we consider that his genius aided the new military dictator of the United States against a reprehensible regime that was nightmarish and brutal and horrible and yet--as many argued then and were accurate in arguing--was not responsible for the sins of the world at present, and in fact had much suffered from the rulers of the world, though it probably threatened a greater terror than any before?
What kind of man, what kind of woman, welcomes Napoleons and Robert Clives and Stalins and Trumans and Bushes and Obamas to their lands, sees them put to torch, ensures that they will reign over countries in chains to greater lords than could have ever been locally produced?
And which of us, were we up against the wall, were we tired of seeing our nearest persecutors kill and maim and abduct and torture those dear to us, would refuse at any cost the aid of a foreign power who shared our hatred for the powers that happened to be?
I have no malice toward the Libyan rebels, whoever the hell they are, whatever the hell they are going to do. They have invited rocket attacks on their own people. They have profited from and courted the indulgence of powers that will likely ever exceed the grasp of Gaddafi. And yet... The sin is that of our rulers, and ours for our own indulgence of same, more than that of any pirate or crook or criminal that we have empowered abroad for the sake of freedom and liberty and stuff.
Were I a Libyan rebel, I'd hope to know I was part of an international con. And I'd hope I'd remember how America continued to support the Kurds, the Afghans, and the Bosniaks. For me, I don't have much to say about the wrongness or righteousness of what goes on in Libya. My opinions of American interest, here and elsewhere, are much clearer.