Our government’s covert mission in Libya: Is the U.S. creating a new Hmong? What we can learn from the Hmong experience

At his Tuesday speech on Libya, the president used the phrase “To be blunt…”  The implication was that he was about to deliver a kind of crushing truth.

But instead of being blunt on Libya, he was really being blunt about the path the Bush administration took in starting a war in Iraq, putting troops on the ground, taking eight years and thousands of lives, and nearly a trillion dollars. “That is not something we can afford to repeat in Libya,” the president said.

So what can we afford? 

A covert action!

NBC is reporting the U.S. is involved in a “covert” action in Libya, which could lead to arming the rebels who appear to be in grave need of at “military advisors.”

Hmmm. Sound like Vietnam yet?

The covert part should at least bring back the image of the Hmong who were involved in the so-called “Secret War” in 1961. Armed by the U.S., tens of thousands of Hmong were trained by the CIA  to help beat back Communist troops threatening Laos.

In the long war, over 100,000 Hmong lost their lives, as Laos ultimately fell. The U.S. began resettling them to America in 1975. Today the Hmong population approaches 300,000 in the U.S., their new homeland.

Is that the fate of the Libyan rebels?  Many of them have travelled from places like the U.S. and Canada to join the fight for their land. One said to NBC’s Richard Engel, that they don’t care about the rockets, and that he wants to die.  “It’s freedom,” he said.

Makes the rebels sound like they are on a suicide mission. Unlike the Hmong, the Libyan rebels have no jungles to hide in to wage a rebel fight. They’re in the open desert, staying near the public roads where they are  sitting ducks.

But does that make our greater  humanitarian effort aiding in the war?  Or is the real humanitarianism in the bringing back survivors to the U.S. when the fighting ends?

Obama can learn a thing or two from the Hmong experience.

Read my other comments on Libya at www.aaldef.org/blog