No country for old dictators

As far as I’m concerned there are no good arguments for intervention in Libya. Reports that we’ve saved 100,000 lives there strike me as no better than propaganda. After all, 100,000 was the number of those killed in the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II – the deadliest day of that war. I have a hard time believing that Qaddafi would even be capable of that sort of devastation. Reports of only a thousand rebel troops also strike me as little more than bragging on the part of rebels. We should be skeptical of these things.

That the Libyans are hugging downed American airmen and showering them with thanks is eerily reminiscent of all those Iraqis greeted us as liberators not quite a decade ago, throwing their shoes first at the toppling statues of Saddam Hussein and then later at their liberator, George W. Bush.

Liberal and neoconservative hawks, and diehard supporters of Obama, can tick off a whole host of reasons to support this intervention. The first among these is that it is merely humanitarian, a mission to save the lives of Libyan civilians. Similar arguments were made about Iraq. Often Rwanda is invoked, or Bosnia. Over one hundred thousand civilians have been killed in Iraq since operations began in 2003. (That number again! Perhaps we have atoned for the hundred thousand killed in Iraq by the hundred thousand saved in Libya…) Nobody can say for sure what would have happened in Rwanda, though it is almost certain that any intervention would have been too little, too late.

I am deeply troubled by the enthusiasm for this latest American invasion of Arab lands – whether from Juan Cole or Bill Kristol – no matter its humanitarian trappings, no matter the D next to the current president’s name, no matter the lives saved with our oh-so-smart smart bombs, no matter the much more impressive coalition of the willing we have gathered around us this time. None of this matters. We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

P.S. – I should add that our involvement in Libya may very well threaten our interests, as Paul Pillar explains (via Larison).

 






317 replies
  1. 1
    The Dangerman says:

    …one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

    Two thoughts:

    1) Somalia on the Mediterranean coast would have (will be?) a disaster

    2) Pan Am 103

  2. 2
    MaximusNYC says:

    Co-sign.

    The past 15 years (since another Democratic president bombed a TV station and an embassy in Belgrade to “liberate” Kosovo) have made me exceedingly skeptical that our uses of military force can ever possibly be as tidy and idealistic as we want them to be.

  3. 3

    I suspect that when it all becomes known this rebellion was started and/or heavily aided by a western intelligence agency or two. This trick has been done many times before.

  4. 4
    E.D. Kain says:

    @The Dangerman: Are you suggesting that this will resolve the potential problem with a repeat of Pan Am 103?

    Also – Somalia…say what?

  5. 5
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Bob In Pacifica: That’s a very good point. It is interesting how quickly a rebel government was formed, how quickly Libyan diplomats distanced themselves from the regime, the early defection of specific units. Hmmmm.

  6. 6
    The Dangerman says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Also – Somalia…say what?

    You set the premises; Kaddafi wouldn’t kill 100K. So, Libya was headed for a state of governance quite similar to Somalia, i.e. anarchy in a perpetual state of civil war.

    As for a repeat of 103, entirely possible, but, in a post 9/11 world, not likely to happen in the air. How it might come is a prediction I’ll care not to make, but, in your words again, if Libya were to act in a 103 fashion, that is a threat to our interests, yes?

  7. 7
    Ija says:

    We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

    I guess that’s your two criteria for intervention. By that criteria, a dictator massacring his own people would be free to continue without any intervention. But please understand that some people have other criteria when it comes to military intervention.

  8. 8
    General Stuck says:

    head on desk

  9. 9
    nestor says:

    Nato enforcement of a no-flyover zone =/= the firebombing of Tokyo.

    Just sayin’.

  10. 10
    KG says:

    @MaximusNYC: my adventurism continues to wain. More and more, I want to see us scale back our foreign military entanglements.

  11. 11
    Elia says:

    I disagree because Barack Obama is not John McCain.

  12. 12
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    So I’m curious. If a UN coalition involving Britain, France, the Arab League but not the US had come together to impose the no-fly zone, would you still view intervention as a bad thing? I’m trying to separate what you think about intervention from who’s doing the intervening. I happen to think that Gaddafi would have slaughtered the people of Benghazi and we’d be wringing our hands right now talking about how someone should have done something if no one intervened. I do however understand the sentiment that the US should not have been involved given the squandering of an opportunity in Afghanistan, misadventures in Iraq and Arab suspicions about the US’s ultimate goal.

  13. 13
    nestor says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    I’m beginning to think matoko-chan was right about you all along.

  14. 14
    E.D. Kain says:

    @nestor: Uhm. That’s not what I was saying either. Read more carefully.

    @Ija: My criteria for military action is essentially that we or one of our allies is invaded. And on the ally front, I think we need to pick and choose our friends very carefully. Too many of our allies are villains. We also should refrain from arming men like Qaddafi.

    @The Dangerman: You make too many assumptions. I could say Libya was headed for a state of perpetual love and joy and it would be just as accurate. Who knows what would have happened? Maybe Qaddafi would have crushed the rebels. Maybe an east and west Libya would have emerged. Look at Korea, look at Vietnam. These are also places we intervened.

  15. 15
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ija: Exactly. E.D., please consider reading the comments in any one of a few dozen threads on this subject from the past several days. Your “none of this matters” line at the end is particularly a slap in the face to everyone of goodwill and varying levels of expertise who do, in fact, believe that some of it fucking well matters. It’s like concluding an argument with “period” or “end of story.” It’s a flourish, not actual reasoning. It serves no purpose. Just make your case on its merits. Don’t pull this bullshit trick where you act like other people’s cases obviously have no merits of their own.

  16. 16
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people): What the French and Brits do in Libya is really none of my concern, honestly.

  17. 17
    Ija says:

    @Ija:

    Yup, it’s all a CIA plot. Those stupid Arabs wouldn’t know how to rebel if it weren’t for American involvement. I bet that guy in Tunisia who burned himself to death who started this whole thing is a CIA operative. His family is probably rolling in money now.

    Seriously, do people still think that CIA is capable enough to pull something like this off? But I guess people who believe that everything is proof of American imperialism would believe in the dastardly evil brilliance of CIA.

    ETA: Sorry. Reply is supposed to be to ED and Bob In Pacifica, not myself. Duh.

  18. 18
    The Dangerman says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    I could say Libya was headed for a state of perpetual love and joy and it would be just as accurate.

    You could say it and it could, indeed, be a possibility; accuracy, however, could be challenged.

    I should add that our involvement in Libya may very well threaten our interests.

    Now you’re the one making assumptions, huh? I could say that our involvement will lead to wine and chocolates for everyone and be just as “accurate”.

  19. 19
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    My criteria for military action is essentially that we or one of our allies is invaded.

    Maybe your criteria for military action suck. There are lots of opposing views about the utility and the ethics of military action for humanitarian reasons. Don’t just handwave at them. Or, if you do just handwave at them, own it. Own that you believe that it’s really just too bad if 100,000 Libyans dies, or, since 100,000 is just too many to believe, call it 50,000. You’re making it way too easy. It’s not supposed to be easy. It’s supposed to gnaw at your conscience.

  20. 20
    Ija says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    My criteria for military action is essentially that we or one of our allies is invaded.

    So you would have been against any intervention in Rwanda? And if the junta in Myanmar decided to kill Aung San Su Kyi and her supporters tomorrow, you would have been against any intervention there, too? Since Burma is not one of our allies.

  21. 21
    John Cole says:

    This should be entertaining.

  22. 22
    Martin says:

    We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

    Yeah, I agree the 100K number is total bullshit, but hundreds or thousands isn’t out of the question for Gaddafi. He massacred 1200 in a prison crackdown a decade ago – he’s more than capable of making an example of his own people.

    The US signed on with every other nation in the UN to intervene when a nation turns their army against their own people. That should be a reasonable expectation of human rights in the world today. We also signed on to provide military assistance to the UN as part of our permanent seat on the security council and veto vote. Gaddafi has effectively turned the Libyan military as an invading force in their own nation.

    I can’t say how this will turn out. Even if the rebels ousted Gaddafi tomorrow, the new government could be a disaster. But the UN believes that the people of Libya deserve to set their own fate. That’s pretty compatible with US attitudes as well, and given that Muslim nations across Africa and the middle east are seeking that very goal, it’s not something we should ignore if there’s a positive contribution we can make, and Libya happens to have a situation going on that we can help with – unlike some other nations.

    So Libya presents precisely the moral situation that the UN should be responding to. Further, it presents a situation that presumably can be improved by a realistic level of outside intervention. None of these things ever have a guarantee, but this appears to be one of those times that intervention is the right move.

  23. 23
    Elia says:

    If we reduce this argument to broad hypotheticals of “so you’d be OK with bad guy X doing bad thing Y” then, beyond those presenting the question feeling superior, I don’t think we’re going to get anywhere of particular use.

  24. 24
    General Stuck says:

    @John Cole:

    The Black Helicopters are not laughing.

  25. 25
    E.D. Kain says:

    @FlipYrWhig: you know what? Saddam Hussein tortured his own people, killing many of them. It was a humanitarian mission as much of anything, our invasion of Iraq. He also had WMD’s…at one point.

  26. 26
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Martin: Fine. Let’s invade the fuck out of North Korea. Ready? Let’s go…

  27. 27
    Comrade Mary says:

    @John Cole: You really are enjoying this shit, aren’t you? Tell me, John: are you sitting at a desk with an evil smirk on your face while you slowly pet a fluffed out Tunch?

  28. 28
    The Dangerman says:

    @Martin:

    None of these things ever have a guarantee, but this appears to be one of those times that intervention is the right move.

    It must eat at the haters that air superiority was achieved in about 3 days and that the USA is handing off authority to NATO in less than a week (the latter being exactly what Obama had predicted).

    Even if the rebels ousted Gaddafi tomorrow, the new government could be a disaster.

    Which is why I can’t buy into the CIA or similar plot being behind these events. This could all end up a disaster, but it was headed for a disaster as it was, so…

  29. 29
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @E.D. Kain: So if the US does disappear to a “supporting role” in the coming weeks and it becomes more of a France, Britain, Turkey and Qatar affair, you’re cool? That’s good to know. I think this is actually a unique opportunity for other countries to learn how to do the multi-lateral international policeman thing while the US focuses on winding down in Afghanistan and Iraq.

  30. 30
    Ija says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    That criteria would fit well with the definition of an isolationist, I think. Depends on how broadly he defines “allies”, of course. It seems like he does not consider Arabs as allies. I mean, of course we should not consider evil dictators our allies. But then, once we don’t consider the dictators our allies, the people in those countries are automatically NOT our allies too. Therefore, if those people, who are not our allies because they are ruled by dictators are slaughtered by said dictators, we can wash our hands off them and say, well, they are not our allies, there’s nothing we can do to help them.

    Brilliant, really.

  31. 31
    Comrade Mary says:

    @E.D. Kain: … and the U.S. fucking LIED its way into unilateral action masquerading as a coalition. This real coalition started only after a bunch of countries dithered and agonized and waited for someone else to DO something already.

  32. 32
    The Dangerman says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Let’s invade the fuck out of North Korea.

    Well, two problems:

    1) Nukes

    2) A monster army

    3) NK has the backing of China, with nukes and a monster army.

    OK, that was 3; my bad.

  33. 33
    Elia says:

    @The Dangerman: While we’re going to be handing off the NFZ (which has already been achieved…) in a matter of days, there’s no indication of an end-date yet as to our involvement attacking Gaddafi’s ground troops.

  34. 34
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    Oh, I almost forgot. What do you think of the UN? Should the US be a member?

  35. 35
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: True, and I’m consistent enough in my views to have said–and it doesn’t win me many points–that if the Iraq war had been sold as* a humanitarian intervention I could have supported it. (And, yes, I know it would still have had all kinds of problems and led to unanticipated consequences and all the rest. All true.) But you’re playing a different game. You’re saying that actual humanitarian catastrophe doesn’t matter to you unless Americans are threatened by it. That’s a view, sure. I don’t think that’s an obviously superior view.

    “None of this matters” tells me you are more concerned with the fact that the last war in a similar geographic region went badly than that thousands of people would have been massacred. I think that choice requires at least a modicum of actual defense rather than this supercilious attitude.

    ETA: [asterisk] and conducted as such

  36. 36
    The Dangerman says:

    @Elia:

    …there’s no indication of an end-date yet as to our involvement attacking Gaddafi’s ground troops.

    It’s been reported that our involvement is winding down and I doubt there will be a definitive indication that we are done and going home (as we will be effectively sitting on the bench, waiting for the need for us to send up a pinch hitter in a pinch).

  37. 37
    Comrade Mary says:

    (Erik, when you opened that thread a few days ago with the news that Obama was getting the US into this, I was one of the first people in there saying that this was a horrible outcome. But while I am still incredibly conflicted, I can’t just dismiss it as being the same as Iraq and utterly without merit. I think there are real risks and real costs, human and economic, but it may be the best out of many conflicting bad choices. I don’t know yet. It’s agonizing.)

  38. 38
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people): Not so fast – the US will be as quick to bail out the French and the Brits as it was to bail out Goldman Sachs. That’s a big problem.

  39. 39

    Please for the love of all that is grammatically correct, READ THE DAMN UN CHARTER.

  40. 40
    Martin says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    These are also places we intervened.

    For completely different reasons, with a completely different dynamic going on, and with completely different prospects for success. There’s no USSR and no China backing up Libya, at the very least.

    My problem with Cole’s attitude when this started was he was assuming there were uniform outcomes to military conflicts, which is what you’re asserting here. There aren’t uniform outcomes. There are so few military conflicts in our history that you can’t extrapolate much of anything based on simple similarities. And military conflicts change significantly over time – not only due to technology, but also due to diplomacy and the expectations of society. You have to look at each one independently, and only extrapolate on past experiences when those elements correlate strongly. There’s just not a lot here to work from. Libya looks nothing like Iraq or Afghanistan. It doesn’t even look a lot like the Balkans.

    The case for and against acting in Libya can’t fall back on ‘well it worked in the Balkans’ or ‘well it failed in Vietnam’. Neither one carries any merit. The justification and objection need to be made specifically with respect to Libya, to this period of time, and to these particular actors.

  41. 41
    nestor says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    It was a humanitarian mission as much of anything

    It wasn’t sold like that until much later.

    We were supposed to feel guilty about teh Kurds.

  42. 42
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ija: would you consider the Iraqi people circa 2003 our allies?

  43. 43
  44. 44
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Comrade Mary: I agree that it is agonizing. Trust me, I can very much sympathize with a desire to save the lives of innocent people from the hands of a brutal dictator. I just don’t believe that it is our part to play, nor do I think that we armchair generals know enough about Libyan domestic affairs to become judge and jury of their fate.

  45. 45
    Ija says:

    @Elia:

    I don’t see why not. After all, those who opposed the intervention has spends days lecturing other people about all the Libyan women and children Obama is personally killing by ordering this war on Libya. I agree, those on the pro-intervention side has to accept and acknowledge that people die in war, there are unforeseen consequences, and the effect might be worse that what is happening now.

    But those who oppose should also be reminded of the effects of inaction. You shouldn’t be allowed to pretend that if only US had stayed out of it, everything would be roses and puppies. People will die, too.

  46. 46
    FlipYrWhig says:

    You know, frankly, the whole piece begins with an absurd overstatement. You say that to you there are no good reasons to get involved. Well, you’re wrong. There are obvious good reasons to get involved. What you probably mean is that the good reasons don’t outweigh the risks and that the rewards are vague. And a discussion can begin at that point, when your views bump up against other people’s different views. But you’re doing what you can to prevent that from happening. Why? You’re asserting and you think you’re proving. Ur doin it rong.

  47. 47
    Martin says:

    @E.D. Kain: You too need to read what people write:

    So Libya presents precisely the moral situation that the UN should be responding to. Further, it presents a situation that presumably can be improved by a realistic level of outside intervention.

    While North Korea presents the right moral situation (and the same inability to influence the situation diplomatically), there is no realistic level of outside intervention that will work there. At a minimum, we can reasonably assume that intervention in North Korea will make the situation for South Korea and possibly Japan, intolerable. We can’t make 25 million people’s lives better while making 50 million people’s lives worse. Further, there is no apparent will among the people of North Korea to change their situation.

    It’s not that we don’t care or don’t want to see a change there, we simply lack the means to do it and we lack the conditions to actually make for a positive outcome. You can’t solve all problems. You can solve some, however.

  48. 48
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ija: I don’t think that defines isolationist. I think the term isolationist is a pejorative used to strawman people who’d rather not bomb the hell out of countries halfway across the globe.

  49. 49
    Lolis says:

    I agree with E.D. It seems we were somewhat dragged into this by our European allies. This didn’t meet the level of humanitarian crisis needed to justify military force.

  50. 50
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    I agree that it is agonizing

    No, you don’t. You said there are no good reasons, and that of the reasons you list, none of them matter, and the only thing that matters is that Iraq was a clusterfuck. There’s no agony there, no deliberation, no hesitation. If you truly thought it was agonizing you wouldn’t write about it with this rank condescension.

  51. 51
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Martin: what does that mean? How do you know that the situation in Libya has a reasonable level of potential success? Do you know something we don’t know?

  52. 52
    Gustopher says:

    With our forces already engaged in two regional wars, I’d pretty much agree with the “don’t attack unless our immediate interests are threatened” line of thought.

    We risk ending up with boots on the ground, for years.

    We don’t have the resources or flexibility to have this many optional wars, and still respond when our interests are actually threatened. This war weakens our security.

  53. 53
    E.D. Kain says:

    @FlipYrWhig: oh right. Blame the people who don’t want to start a war overnight for ‘no hesitation’.

    The number one strawman used against non-interventionists is that we don’t care about the fate of the people in Libya. This is nonsense. It is agonizing. It is horrible to see what Qaddafi is doing. That still doesn’t make our involvement the right thing, or a wise thing.

  54. 54

    @Martin: THIS.

    @E.D. Kain: Honestly, if you’re not going to bother to figure out how this all is intended to work under the rubric of the United Nations, then you can’t really claim to have thought this through carefully.

    “None of this matters.” You’re absolutely wrong that none of it matters and reading the UN Charter will explain to you why it very much matters and why this is a complex question with no easy answers.

    It’s beyond ridiculous that it is primarily foreign media/press that discuss the ramifications of Qaddafi’s action in an international context. And, to the extent your opinion on the issue coalesces around threads of information you’ve picked up in on MSNBC or CNN or in the NYT or WaPo, then you’re not understanding the full story. Full stop.

    This is driving me batshit crazy.

    I’m going see how much whisky I have left and then I’m going to watch MacGruber.

    ::flounce::

  55. 55
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: You know what else isn’t exactly in keeping with the proper structures of argumentation? Declaring that one thing is obviously like another thing, not backing it up, then insisting, Q.E.D., you win the argument.

  56. 56
    Martin says:

    @E.D. Kain: Oh, bullshit. The no-fly zone effectively muted Saddams ability to do anything significant to the Kurds. The Kurds were why the no-fly zone covered the northern area that it did. And UN weapons inspectors were certifying that Iraq had no WMDs on the very days that Bush was arguing that they did. We had no reason to dispute the UN weapons inspectors, particularly when Saddam’s cat-and-mouse game with them was being used as justification for the invasion.

  57. 57
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: Bullshit. You don’t think it’s agonizing. You brought that up late. In the piece there’s no agony. There’s nothing but confidence. That’s the whole problem with the piece. Not the view (which I disagree with on many levels, but reasonable people can do that). The attitude. Read it again.

  58. 58
    Joel says:

    It’s a compelling argument, Kain. I’m still not sure how I feel about this excursion. I guess I wish it hadn’t happened but I understand why it has.

  59. 59
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Blame the people who don’t want to start a war overnight

    Your criticism wasn’t that it started “overnight,” it was that it started at all. You’re starting with your “Bad idea” reaction and building the reasons from whatever happens to be lying around.

  60. 60
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    @E.D. Kain: If you have a worldview that’s essentially “every country for itself and its own immediate interests,” what value do you see in the US being a member of the UN? Honestly curious.

  61. 61
    nancydarling says:

    @E.D. Kain: @E.D. Kain: Honestly, Kain? Honestly? That’s one of the silliest statements I’ve read here in a long time.

  62. 62
    nestor says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    How do you know that the situation in Libya has a reasonable level of potential success?

    How do you know it doesn’t?

    Besides, defence spending = jobs, yes?

  63. 63
    Ija says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    He “agonizes” once someone called him out on it. Not before. Before it’s all “US and our allies only” and “none of this matters”.

    I’m actually surprised that more conservatives and libertarians aren’t hard-core isolationists …. err… non-interventionists. The “US and our allies only” mindset would fit well with the “I’ve got mine, fuck the rest of you” attitude to domestic policy. But I guess that clashes with the “US is the greatest country in the world” mindset.

  64. 64
    pattonbt says:

    @The Dangerman: So as long as the target is weak and easily subdued then everything is cool? Check. We wouldn’t want to tackle the actual monsters in the world if it’s too tough. Got it.

    Weaklings of the world, watch out, we’re coming to get you.

  65. 65
    Emerald says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Trust me, I can very much sympathize with a desire to save the lives of innocent people from the hands of a brutal dictator.

    Except that you wouldn’t do anything to stop the brutal dictator. At least, that’s the impression I get.

    Sometimes we can’t stop the dictator. Sometimes we can. This time we can.

    Of one thing I am supremely confident: most of the very same people who are criticizing Obama now would be criticizing him for letting thousands die if he had taken the opposite decision.

    Of that I have no doubt.

  66. 66
    The Dangerman says:

    @pattonbt:

    So as long as the target is weak and easily subdued then everything is cool?

    Oh puhleeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeze.

  67. 67
    Martin says:

    @E.D. Kain: Broad uprising among the population. Limited to no external assistance to Gaddafi by outside nations and neighbors. Few urban areas to serve as protection from air forces with large stretches of desert to expose any military units trying to move between cities.

    Tactically, it’s a very strong situation for air patrol and monitoring. We can stop Gaddfi’s units from moving to new targets and the no-fly minimizes Gaddafi’s ability to do the same to rebels. Being coastal, we don’t need to secure overfly rights and with allies nearby, the coalition can stay on station indefinitely. With no state supporters and no manufacturing capacity, eventually Gaddafi is going to run out of tanks and artillery if we keep attacking ground units. The rebels are getting humanitarian support and some military support (weapons, ammo) from Egypt and other nations, along with financial support to hire military expertise. The magnitude of the popular uprising appears to be of sufficient size and from all regions of the country that if they’re given cover to consolidate gains, they’ll be able to do so steadily. Yesterday the rebels started moving forces from Benghazi to Misrata by sea thanks to the naval blockade.

    Honestly, the conditions are about as good for removing Gaddafi from power as you could hope for. Who knows what the next government would bring, if successful, but it could hardly be worse than Gaddafi.

  68. 68
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ija: Exactly. There’s no agony anywhere in the post. The post is totally aloof. I don’t buy this backpedaling into how agonizing it is.

  69. 69
    pattonbt says:

    @Martin: Again, because NK is hard (but equally deserving if not more so than Libya) we shouldn’t act.

    Too many people are talking about the moral imperative to act in Libya only because it’s easy. Yet for those harder situations the moral imperative is given short shrift because we couldn’t dominate the situation and the costs would be far worse.

    Shouldn’t our morality be applied regardless of cost? Or are you admitting there is a cost to how far our morality is willing to go? Seems like we are then back to where we individually draw the lines. So maybe those supporters should step back a bit from berating the non-interventionists who do not believe the moral case alone is enough for us to get involved as you all have your own lines you wouldn’t cross given the same moral imperative.

  70. 70
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Gustopher: I’d say that’s exactly right.

  71. 71
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pattonbt:

    So maybe those supporters should step back a bit from berating the non-interventionists who do not believe the moral case alone is enough for us to get involved as you all have your own lines you wouldn’t cross given the same moral imperative.

    Most of the “berating” has worked in the opposite direction, of course, including virtually all of the front-page posts on the subject.

  72. 72
    Elia says:

    @Ija: OK. No disagreement there. But I’m just not convinced that good things happen from bombs and gunfire, for one. For another, I’m not convinced we can afford this and that it won’t end up with us setting down roots in yet another Muslim nation. I just think the imperial habit is hard to break…and unfortunately an empire usually has to quit cold turkey.

  73. 73
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: Then make that your damn argument: _even though_ there are good arguments to intervene in Libya, they are outweighed by better arguments _not_ to intervene. But that’s not what you wrote, and I’m not sure it’s what you think.

  74. 74
    nancydarling says:

    @pattonbt: Just because you can’t intervene everywhere doesn’t mean you shouldn’t intervene anywhere.

  75. 75
    pattonbt says:

    @Angry Black Lady: Honest question here. I’ve seen many people state “The UN resolution doesn’t allow X” as definitive proof that no further actions can be taken beyond the NFZ. But what happens when the low level insurgency/war starts and Kadaffi doesn’t quit? Do you not think we or our allies won’t step up efforts “to protect civilians” which is in the resolution. You can only do so much from the air, and once it gets to the ground and close quarters fighting, intervention gets a whole lot trickier.

    I think it is naive for people to think that just because the resolution says X that it doesn’t mean this couldn’t easily escalate if the facts on the ground change. Either through a new resolution or under the guise of “protecting civilians”.

    Basing any action on what the resolution does and/or doesn’t say won’t preclude changes occurring as needed or desired.

  76. 76
    tomvox1 says:

    I am deeply troubled by…

    …the fact that very few supposedly intelligent observers seem to be able to judge each individual action on its own merits. Kosovo is not Rwanda which is not Iraq and none of these are like Libya. If you are against any and all US intervention abroad, I suppose that’s OK albeit unrealistic. But at least come up with a specific rationale for opposition against each instance of intervention and not “Iraq II was shit and so all US military interventions before and after that are equally shit no matter what the scale and stated objectives.” That’s just naive and lame.

  77. 77
    Elia says:

    @The Dangerman: I dunno what you’re reading by the communistic socialist rag the new york times tells me that we’re taking over ground assaults and, on that front, there’s no end in sight:http://www.nytimes.com/2011/03.....=1&hp

  78. 78
    junebug says:

    PEOPLE ED Kain is a libetarian (despite what he might claim) and libertarians are isolationists. It’s pretty simple.

    They don’t really care if other people die as long as they don’t die.

  79. 79
    Ija says:

    I honestly prefer Cole’s ranting about the pro-intervention’s so-called “spin” and calling his commenters idiots etc etc to this. At least Cole treats his readers like grown-ups who can argue and give as good as they get.

    This is just condescending bullshit. I notice Kain always does this. He waits until the dust is almost settled on an argument, then swoops down like a proverbial savior, letting us know everything we have missed, patiently lecturing us on the errors of our way.

    If there’s one thing I can’t stand, it’s condescending bullshit masquerading as patient explanation. Thanks, but no thanks. Better to read angry rantings and arguments.

  80. 80
    pattonbt says:

    @The Dangerman: But that seems to be the conclusion. I’m not snarking here. Basically people are saying we can not apply the same moral argument to intervening in North Korea than we can to Libya because the ramifications of going against NK would be more difficult.

    Am I reading it wrong?

  81. 81
    Martin says:

    @pattonbt:

    So as long as the target is weak and easily subdued then everything is cool? Check. We wouldn’t want to tackle the actual monsters in the world if it’s too tough. Got it.

    Well, if deploying nukes (or the conventional equivalent) is the only way to save the populace, that may not be an improvement to the people you’re trying to help.

    The Cold War rules were that expansion of communism trumped the welfare of the people suffering under it. Those rules don’t work any longer (and were pretty nutty to begin with). So unless the humanitarian gains clearly and decisively outweigh the humanitarian costs, it’s not going to happen. It’s very hard to balance that equation in the case of North Korea, particularly when the North Korean people have been held so out of touch with the rest of the world, the cost to 50 million South Koreans would likely be high (in humanitarian terms) as well as to the Japanese, and the response by powerful nations like China are so uncertain. Such an action could well kill as many people as it would liberate.

  82. 82
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @tomvox1: This.

  83. 83
    Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people) says:

    For those who don’t think the US should intervene in other countries’ calamities, even when there is a potential to prevent massacres of civilians by a country’s government, how do you square this with the US being a member of an organization (the UN) that states that member countries should do just that? I understand the war fatigue and the arguments about “weaker” countries being the focus of UN intervention (I myself doubt that a UN resolution to support intervention in North Korea would have many backers), but I’m wondering whether there’s just plain ignorance about what member nations of the UN have signed themselves up for. Is the thinking that the US should use the UN to achieve its own aims (e.g., protecting Israel from international sanctions the US views as unfair) but duck out of any responsibilities that involve a military commitment?

  84. 84
    pattonbt says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I agree that enough poo has been flung in both directions, and for the most part I’ve tried to keep above it (maybe having slipped a little here in this thread though). But to have people say those of us who do not want to intervene are moral cowards (maybe a slight over exagerration on my part) then they themselves shy away when asked to apply their same moral calculus to other horrible situations and they change their tune strikes pretty low.

    It seems hypocritical.

    And Libya does reek of “what’s the low hanging fruit”. Libya is easier to dust off than the real threats so lets just jump in and do it then. It has that feel to me.

  85. 85
    gizmo says:

    There would be a lot more support for our intervention in Libya if we hadn’t involved ourselves in so many ill-chosen military actions in recent decades. America has blundered so badly and spent so much money and screwed up in so many respects that there is now an unfortunate tendency on the left to condemn just about every military initiative. It’s worth noting that in this case, US involvement has been a co-operative venture with other nations, so it’s not all on us. IMHO, this is exactly how it should work when a manaic like Qaddafi needs to be taken down. A standing international strike force should be ready to act at all times, armed to the teeth, and well-funded to deal with any emergency. If that were in place, it might mean that we would be less likely to undertake military adventures on our own.

  86. 86
    Martin says:

    @pattonbt: There’s got to be a pragmatic view to balance out the moral one (and a moral one to balance the pragmatic).

    North Korea isn’t just difficult, it’s impossible. Yeah, we could claim a military victory. A notch in our belt, we got rid of this fucked up government and leader and liberated the population. But honestly, we’d likely leave hundreds of thousands or millions dead and it’d require a boots-on-the-ground commitment that hasn’t been seen since WWII – and that assumes that China stays out of it. We can win militarily, but there’s no fucking way we can win a humanitarian victory there. And if we can’t win that, we can’t justify doing it. We likely couldn’t justify it even if North Korea was slaughtering their own people.

  87. 87
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pattonbt: I don’t think you’re reading it wrong, but I don’t think it’s that damning, either. Sometimes the costs of action are indeed too high. That’s a debate we can have, both in actual public policy circles and in blog comments. Nobody believes that the costs are never too high, and nobody believes that the costs are always too high. We disagree on where the equilibrium is.

  88. 88
    Allan says:

    So what we’ve learned is that if people are estimating that approximately 100,000 lives are at stake, the number is a lie and we should just let whatever the actual number of people is die. Got it.

    Tell that to these people.

  89. 89
    pattonbt says:

    @nancydarling: I agree, but don’t take your moral reasoning for intervening here as a cudgel against me when my moral reasoning doesn’t line up with that. And then when I ask you to apply your moral reasoning consistently to a similarly horrific situation and you decline, pardon me if I point out the hypocrisy.

    This is why I do not like moral reasoning for engaging in war that isn’t of the (oversimplified) imminent threat to me and mine variety (and why I have said that Libya’s neighbors can make that decision and are more than capable of acting and achieving those goals without the US being involved).

  90. 90
    The Dangerman says:

    @pattonbt:

    Am I reading it wrong?

    Yes. Reading it as Strong/Weak is shit; read it as:

    1)Cost/Benefit. In NK’s case, I don’t know how many millions of people would die within hours (minutes?) of action against NK. Do you know how much artillery is aimed at Seoul?

    2) The UN hasn’t (and sure as hell wouldn’t with China’s and Russia’s veto) any action against NK.

    3) NK is a repressive regime, but it isn’t actively slaughtering their citizens with mercenaries.

    Not that hard. Cmon.

  91. 91
    Ija says:

    @Allan:

    You’re still around. I thought somebody was crowing about how they have successfully driven you away.

  92. 92
    E.D. Kain says:

    @Ija: look, I see another strawman! Keep throwing those my way, buddy.

  93. 93
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pattonbt: I don’t think anyone here at least has been so zealously pro-intervention to say that not wanting to intervene shows “moral cowardice.” My standard is that I want to hear people arguing that the risks are greater than the benefits, while showing an awareness of both the risks and the benefits. Some people have managed to do that. But this piece is particularly obtuse by that standard, because it basically seeks to downplay the humanitarian benefits–by quibbling with numbers, first and foremost–and wrap it all in a “Well, Iraq sure sucked” pseudo-justification.

  94. 94
    Ija says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    I’m not your “buddy”. I’m a commenter on a blog who you have never met.

    You can’t stop being condescending, can you?

  95. 95
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    …nor do I think that we armchair generals know enough about Libyan domestic affairs to become judge and jury of their fate.

    I keep reading this formula or something like it. Dismissing the portentous “judge and jury of their fate” part, are Libyan domestic affairs unknowable? Are they like some kind of particle physics, beyond the ken of human understanding and only representable in mathematical form?

    I contend that it is possible that a some people just might be knowledgeable about the Libyan domestic situation. And a few of those people might be involved in our efforts over there.

  96. 96
    E.D. Kain says:

    @junebug: oh right. Here, I’ll quote Freddie, who says it all so much better:

    As I’ve said many times, one of the formative political experiences of my life was the run up to the Iraq war, and the treatment of those of us who opposed the invasion. It was an education: the endless denigration of us as naive, reflexively anti-American, abjectly pacifistic, cowardly, unprincipled, unpatriotic, supportive of a dictator, dismissive and unfeeling towards the plight of Iraqis, and generally every shade of shiftless and deluded.

    But really, I just don’t care about people dying, right?

  97. 97
    Allan says:

    @Ija: No, I’ve just had a fair amount of paying work the past few days. Sorry to disappoint the crow.

  98. 98
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: Do you even attempt to read and perhaps even learn from what people say back to you in response to your writing, or are you the even-more-libertarian version of Matt Yglesias, who just goes on pontificating about whatever he first thought in exactly the same way, regardless of how many times people try to point out what he’s not taking into account?

  99. 99
    Martin says:

    @Allan: Well, I think the 100K number is bullshit but that the action is justifiable. We don’t need to lie about the situation to make our case. Saving thousands and preventing the dislocation of hundreds of thousands is perfectly justifiable.

  100. 100
    Elia says:

    Aside from the deepening cult of personality that envelopes Obama– I have read many pro-war arguments that literally amount to no more than “I trust Obama!”– and the attendant “you must support Obama” social pressures, this email reflects peoples ability to reconcile any gulf, no matter how wide, between reality and their beliefs. This emailer wants me to take seriously that the Libyan aggression represents a break from Bush-era foreign policy. That is, military aggression against an oil-rich Middle Eastern country launched for dubious humanitarian and world-policing reasons with no exit strategy or any consideration of what postwar society will resemble, undertaken with the understanding that America’s inexhaustible skill, wisdom, and benevolence will result in superior outcomes for a foreign people, represents a break from the Bush tradition. Why? Because of hope and change. Because Obama is just that great of a guy. Because trust him.

    http://lhote.blogspot.com/2011.....hange.html

  101. 101
    Citizen_X says:

    @pattonbt:

    Basically people are saying we can not apply the same moral argument to intervening in North Korea than we can to Libya because the ramifications of going against NK would be more difficult.

    Oh, for fuck’s sake. The “ramifications” of attacking the country with literally 50,000 artillery pieces in range of Seoul would be at least one million civilian casualties. Um, yes, that’s more “difficult.”

    You’re ignoring that there’s a cost-benefit analysis involved, as there ethically must be, and that the costs and benefits are not dollars but literally human lives. As others said, you’d be killing as many as you’d be liberating.

    Edit: I see Dangerman got there first.

  102. 102
    Ija says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Yes, because this is still 2003, and bringing up Iraq shuts down all argument. Q.E.D.

    If you are too lazy to look at a calendar, it is now 2011, the non-intervention side is the majority, if anyone is doing the berating, it’s your side. Like I said before, try not to be as much of a dick like the guys who were in the majority in 2003 were.

  103. 103
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @E.D. Kain: No, really you don’t give two shits what anyone tries to offer as a counterargument to your views, because you’ve already settled into them so comfortably. I’ve never tried to engage you before and thought you were getting a hard time for no particular reason. I don’t find it so difficult to imagine that reason anymore.

  104. 104
    pattonbt says:

    @Martin: So there are real politic and potential consequence considerations that limit our ability to act morally.

    So again, because Libya is “easier” than NK we can say we are doing it morally when really we are doing it because we can at little cost. That really seems to me why so many support this – because we can..I just do not like that reasoning at all.

    I’m being a bit of a Devil’s Advocate and intentionally obtuse (probably ineffectively) to show that maybe beating non-interventionists with some moral weakness card on acting in Libya might not be the best tack to take (not that you were doing that) because we are all willing to put a price on our morals (and most likely each of us would have different prices for different situations – i.e. none of us would be consistently morally superior).

  105. 105
    Allan says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel): Well, they are inscrutable brown people who don’t speak proper English, so it’s impossible to know what their true motivations are. They probably don’t have feelings or aspirations. Better that we stay on the sidelines, then throw some cash at whoever’s in charge when the slaughtering stops in exchange for their natural resources, eh what?

  106. 106
    Joseph Nobles says:

    I’m deeply troubled by the ability of the CIA to organize “spontaneous” outpourings of praise around downed military pilots when a helicopter happens to crash. I especially fear the ability of the Libyans to participate in these CIA fake rallies even when a few of them are actually shot dead by the “rescuers.”

    I’m even more deeply troubled by the ability of 22 comments on the freshly loaded front page to become 92 comments once I click in to read them half a second later.

  107. 107
    pattonbt says:

    @Felanius Kootea (formerly Salt and freshly ground black people): I don’t have a problem with the US singing on to (or abstaining, which is essentially a yes) a vote for intervention in Libya, I just think the action should be brought to the UN by and actioned by the local/regional parties involved. I just do not know why the US has to be an active participant in this case.

  108. 108
    Martin says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel): Well, democratic movements in the middle east are so uncommon that the political outcome is highly uncertain. Toss in new governments on either side, and who the fuck knows what’s going to happen.

    That said, if the broad public in Libya wants to take a go at a political experiment, particularly in response to eliminating a dictator that nobody on the planet is eager to keep around, then that alone is worth the risk of what we might wind up with.

  109. 109
    nestor says:

    P.S. – I should add that our involvement in Libya may very well threaten our interests, as Paul Pillar explains (via Larison)

    If it’s all the same to you, I’ll wait here on the boat.

  110. 110
    Allan says:

    @Martin: I probably should have made clear that I was summarizing E.D., not agreeing with him… the video I linked shows masses of people literally greeting the UN forces as liberators in Benghazi, just as E.D. insists they must not actually be doing, because it wasn’t true in Iraq in 2003, and Libya in 2011 is exactly the same because shut up that’s why.

  111. 111
    Suffern ACE says:

    @gizmo:

    A standing international strike force should be ready to act at all times, armed to the teeth, and well-funded to deal with any emergency. If that were in place, it might mean that we would be less likely to undertake military adventures on our own.

    I don’t think we’d let something like that out of our control. We’re freaky that way.

  112. 112
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @Ija: Also seriously crimps the profitability of the MIC. That’s why conservatives aren’t isolationist.

  113. 113
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Look Candy, It’s Joseph Nobles again.

    Be a dear and wave to him.

  114. 114
    pattonbt says:

    @The Dangerman: Yet NK poses a greater threat to a greater number of people and because the costs to act are much higher it is OK to abandon that moral cause.

    Additionally, per your list, only once the UN says it’s OK can we act.

    Don’t get me wrong, I know all the downsides to NK but then leave the moral majority BS on the curb when we talk about any of these engagements. Morality has nothing to do with when we act, ease of action and result is what really matters.

    You do not deny the hardships NK civilians live in or the death and destruction that has been visited upon them by that regime for decades, but because to fix the situation would be at a tremendous cost, morals need to be shelved.

    I am one of the most pragmatic people around and I understand exactly why we wouldn’t want to get involved in NK. Morally, I sure as hell want to, but you are right, the costs are to high and we shouldn’t do it. So maybe get off the moral high horse with Libya. It has nothing to do with morals. We are acting because we can and the costs of acting are low.

  115. 115
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @nestor: Have we met?

  116. 116
    pattonbt says:

    @FlipYrWhig: And as an FYI, my reasons for not wanting to intervene are not the same as this posts author nor do I concur with those reasons (or any parallels to Iraq, etc..

  117. 117
    pattonbt says:

    @Citizen_X: And my answer to you is the same as it is to Dangerman – because Libya is easy we are undertaking it, not because of any “moral” profoundness.

  118. 118
    Martin says:

    @pattonbt:

    So again, because Libya is “easier” than NK we can say we are doing it morally when really we are doing it because we can at little cost. That really seems to me why so many support this – because we can..I just do not like that reasoning at all.

    How does the possibility of the thing completely negate the morality of it? I mean, we can invade and defeat Cuba or Portugal, but there’s no public support for those actions. A moral case can be made to intervene in at least half a dozen places, but these need to be net humanitarian gains to be justifiable.

    A moral case could have been made for Iraq a decade ago, but it wasn’t made because the likelihood of a humanitarian victory looked quite poor. That was trotted out only after the first few cases failed with the public. Even ED above acknowledges in a failed way the cornucopia of justifications to go into Iraq. In hindsight, I don’t think too many people could argue that the Iraqi people are better off today than if we had just left them alone – and who can speak to the opportunity cost of that action. What could those billions and military assets have done to help elsewhere?

    No, for me both the moral and pragmatic case needs to be there for support. I’m not supportive of a military victory and a humanitarian loss.

  119. 119
    Barb (formerly Gex) says:

    @FlipYrWhig: The trend in other threads was to dig his heels in for a good long time, then quietly concede. The most ridiculous, in my mind, was maintaining for several days that it was a terrible moral hazard to let people stay in homes that would otherwise be foreclosed by banks that couldn’t be bothered to prove they have a claim.

    It had seemed he was learning something from that kind of argumentation, but I agree with your criticisms of the approach and attitude of the piece.

  120. 120
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @Allan: Ha! I don’t know if I’d go so far as to charge ED with making broad, racist generalizations like that. I’m sure that informs other non-interventionist’s worldview, though. Very sure.

    @Martin: Agree whole heartedly. Given the strategic parameters you outlined above, giving those folks a chance comes relatively cheaply.

    I think the “we can’t possibly know anything about the domestic situation” statement is a way to smuggle in an “Iraq is a catastrophe” argument a second time.

  121. 121
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Who’s asking?

  122. 122
    Martin says:

    @Suffern ACE: No, I think we would. We’ve not had a problem with NATO power.

    But now that the US is here in this role, who is going to step up to replace our capability? If we want a group to be on station at all times, they’re going to have to field a military like the US has. Even if everyone else donated their entire military to this cause, they’d still have to pay more than they are now. The only way it’s going to happen is if the US massively, massively dials back, creating a vacuum.

  123. 123
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @pattonbt:

    Basically people are saying we can not apply the same moral argument to intervening in North Korea than we can to Libya because the ramifications of going against NK would be more difficult.

    No, because the specific ramifications of North Korea would be more destructive. Proportionality of the action matters. Harm has to be mitigated as much as possible.

    You’d be better off using an example like Sri Lanka. The final stages of the government’s crushing of the Tamils is similar to the situation in Benghazi. Tens of thousands of people were actually slaughtered and not just threatened. Understanding why Sri Lanka has been historically ignored is more instructive than jumping to a worst case scenario like North Korea.

  124. 124
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    My interest in 9/11 conspiracy theories stems from two places

    Just two?

  125. 125
    Stillwater says:

    @Martin: That said, if the broad public in Libya wants to take a go at a political experiment, particularly in response to eliminating a dictator that nobody on the planet is eager to keep around, then that alone is worth the risk of what we might wind up with.

    By saying that Libyans may want to try democracy ‘in response to’ the ousting of Qaddafi, are you saying that the point of the UN intervention is regime change?

  126. 126
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @pattonbt: I’m not sure you saw it because it was near the end of one of those epic threads, but I had singled you out earlier as someone whose lines of thought and logic, had they been embraced by the front-pagers, would have led to greatly-reduced acrimony on these subjects. I think this whole thing has been a lost opportunity to talk about humanitarian objectives and limited wars, which has been a thorny subject on the broad-spectrum left since the ’90s.

  127. 127
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @nestor:

    Just two?

    The WTC and the Pentagon? That’s my guess. Do I win?

  128. 128
    Joseph Nobles says:

    @nestor: I don’t know what you’re trying to prove other than extreme obtuseness on your part. Perhaps you could state your objections to me flat-out instead of your silly games.

  129. 129
    pattonbt says:

    @Martin: I wholeheartedly agree with the reasoning you outline (and others) because it captures both sides of the coin (morality/pragmatism).

    Obviously from my statements I’m not over the line on Libya (and rarely am on anything of this sort) but only from a direct US involvement perspective. I think having the direct parties leading this intervention (with US support) holds much more merit.

    I just wanted to point out the hypocrisy to many who seem to be implying that those who do not support this intervention lacked morality while they themselves will shelve their morality when pragmatism dictates. We all have our price (and it’s not necessarily consistent from case to case).

    Hope that makes clear what my intention was/is.

    I do continue to contend though that many people seem to support this intervention a little too easily (for my taste) because they see the costs as very low, which I do not think is reason enough to engage in an action. I believe that actually sets a terrible precedent for future actions and is what leads to disasters.

  130. 130
    nestor says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    The final stages of the government’s crushing of the Tamils is similar to the situation in Benghazi

    The difference being Muammar Gaddafi was stopped short of his goal.

  131. 131
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @nestor:

    I know! It’s like one military action was taken, and one wasn’t! And that difference was my entire point! OMGWTF.

  132. 132
    Martin says:

    @pattonbt:

    Yet NK poses a greater threat to a greater number of people and because the costs to act are much higher it is OK to abandon that moral cause.

    NK poses a greater potential threat, but certainly not a greater imminent threat. Things in the region have been relatively stable for the last several decades. Sure, there are skirmishes with SK, but diplomacy actually works to some degree with NK and the skirmishes are relatively limited. And even with that relative stability, the US is sitting pretty much smack-dab between NK and SK. NK knows they don’t have much wiggle room there.

    The unique problem that NK presents is that they’ve created a hostage situation. If we act, they will unleash on the south. And short of nukes, there’s no way we could act quickly enough to diffuse that threat. In other words, if reducing the threat to SK were the goal, we couldn’t act fast enough to actually achieve it. Acting would merely guarantee the outcome we seek to prevent. They’re special in that regard in the world today. I can’t think of a simliar situation now that the USSR is gone.

  133. 133
    Yutsano says:

    @John Cole: I shoulda made popcorn. That was fucking epic. (So far)

  134. 134
    pattonbt says:

    @FlipYrWhig: I must have missed it, but I have tried to put my thoughts out there in a rational way to express why I come down on the side I do. And I think I’ve done poorly on this thread trying to make what is maybe a convoluted point (written argumentation or cleverness in general is not my strong suit).

    Hopefully a couple of my later statements have done a better job of attempting to explain where I was trying to go.

    I just really struggle with war. I think we resort to it too easily and the US needs a serious attitude adjustment on how it defines getting involved in actions. And I believe until that happens we can not make inroads on (to me) more important social/domestic issues.

    And finally, I accept many of the peoples beliefs that the facts for this intervention seem more worthy and transparent, I trust this administration more than previous ones to attempt to prosecute the action in line with their stated goals and that facts so far (post intervention) support those beliefs. Yet I still hold my initial stance.

  135. 135
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    You’re a Truther. Happy now?

    Also: The Game.

  136. 136
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @Yutsano: Things less irritating in your neck of the woods, I hope?

  137. 137
    pattonbt says:

    @Martin: Yet NK’s threat has been actualized and is ongoing. We know millions have died because of starvation and other regime actions. NK’s threat has been more real for far longer than Libya’s threat to it’s own people. Sure it’s a slow boiling threat, but L’il Kim has killed more people than Kadaffi could ever dream of killing.

    I’m sure the people of NK would believe the threat to their lives is quite imminent and constant (well, maybe not due to the brainwashing, but hopefully my point holds).

  138. 138

    @nestor: Ah, I see. I was trying to figure out if you were the type of idiot that saw I have a website associated with 9/11 Truth and attacked me as a Truther despite the fact that the website actually debunks 9/11 Truth, or if you were the kind of idiot that recognized me from other sites where I’ve debunked 9/11 Truth and decided to attack me here. You’re the first kind. Go actually look at my website and apologize. I’ll wait.

  139. 139

    I think the more interesting and good faith debate would be one about how the Security Council decides to take action and the policy underpinnings of the UN. People spend years studying the inner workings of the UN and related issues of diplomacy. You swatted off an entire area of international law and policy in — what — 500 words?

    To pronounce that there are no good arguments for intervention is not only related to the wrong debate, but it’s also a bad faith start to the correct debate.

    You want to talk about whether the UN is a desired means to resolve international conflict and to prevent catastrophic war (like, world ones) then start that debate. But this post is utter bullshit.

  140. 140
    Yutsano says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel): Kind of. Two hours of boring classwork that I think is an elaborate set-up for the management to play a big new game of gotcha. There are many things I like about my job: the evaluation process is not one of them.

    @Angry Black Lady:

    But this post is utter bullshit.

    Does this mean you found the whiskey? :)

  141. 141
    Martin says:

    @Stillwater: I have to give a mixed answer to that. The goal of Frances intervention is definitely regime change. There’s no denying that.

    I believe the original goal of the rest of the coalition is to let the people of Libya decide. If Gaddafi backed down, and the rebels backed down, I think we would have left it largely at that. Maybe maintained the no-fly zone, but stopped the ground attacks, and shifted entirely over to diplomacy.

    Now that the international criminal court has said that they’d pursue war crimes prosecution, I don’t see how the coalition can stop short of regime change. He’s either going to get overthrown or arrested as soon as he leaves the country. That actually complicates things while strengthening France’s position. The longer it goes on, the harder it will be to justify allowing Gaddafi to remain in power, and now that he’s likely to see The Hague, the less likely he is to back down.

  142. 142
    eemom says:

    Good Lord, when exactly did E.D. become such an insufferably smug little prick? Guess I haven’t been paying attention.

    @Martin:

    Further, there is no apparent will among the people of North Korea to change their situation.

    I have to take issue with that statement. From what I understand they’re among the most miserable people on the planet. The efficient brutality of the regime, combined with starvation, cold, and terror of things becoming still worse, has beaten every shred of hope out of them. Check out the horrifying accounts of the concentration camps.

    It is grossly unfair to say of a people like that, that they have “no will to change their situation.”

  143. 143
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Go actually look at my website and apologize. I’ll wait.

    Why? So you can stick your finger up my butt?

    I don’t think so.

  144. 144
    cat48 says:

    Looks like you’re a Realist today; unlike on 02/21 at BJ when you were leaning toward maybe the US should do something:

    All that said, reports out of Libya are disturbing to put it mildly – the violence against Libyan protestors is truly horrendous. For all the defections of air force officers and diplomats, there is report after report of slaughter. Qaddafi’s special forces are attacking protestors with snipers, artillery, tanks, and from the sea and air. They are dropping bombs from helicopters. Hundreds are dead, though we have no way of knowing the actual death-toll.
    __
    I don’t know. I’m conflicted. This is one of those many moments I’m glad to not have Obama’s job.

    You did seem to acknowledge people were being slaughtered.

  145. 145
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Angry Black Lady:

    I think the more interesting and good faith debate would be one about how the Security Council decides to take action and the policy underpinnings of the UN.

    Like I said, it’s the difference between Libya and Sri Lanka.

    Humanitarian actions only qualify if a particular regime, in very narrow spheres of influence globally, has gone and made too many enemies for itself.

  146. 146
    Elia says:

    uhhh on the whole, due to thoroughly totalitarian propaganda, ppl in NK think theyre happy. Not everyone is secretly a western liberal deep down…

  147. 147

    @nestor: So you’re persistent in your error? Ah, well. No fool like an stiffnecked one.

  148. 148
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    What error?

    You’re a conspiracy loon.

  149. 149
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Elia:

    Um, no. Just no.

  150. 150
    Parallel 5ths (Irish Steel) says:

    @eemom: Hellenic Steel. Ooopah!

  151. 151

    Bob Loblaw, if you are the same Bob Loblaw from the James Randi Educational Foundation, would you please explain to nestor that I am not a 9/11 Truther, but a brittle far-left 9/11 Truth debunker who flew off in a huff from JREF over political arguments? You would have known me as boloboffin there.

  152. 152
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    Celebrating Greek independence day. A day when our Greek brothers threw off the the tyranny of Bob Loblaw and his Ottoman thugs, or something like that.

  153. 153
    Martin says:

    @eemom: Ok, that a fair argument, and I don’t dispute in any measure the abuse the NK people have suffered. But the people of North Korea have zero perspective of their place on the planet. If we came storming in, they’re very likely to turn on us as foreign invaders than as liberators. They’ve been so far removed from the world stage, that socially they’re like aliens among humans.

    I mean, we routinely talk about how Americans will vote against their self interest out of fear of gays getting married, or learning about evolution, or having to live next to a Mexican, or worse – a union member. And these are people that have no barriers to understanding where they stand in society, no obstacles to actually talking to gays and mexicans and union members. But who knows if the North Korean public would welcome this. And we have no way to even assess that.

  154. 154
    Ija says:

    @Elia:

    I think not wanting to starve and live under a government who can kill or imprison you without a trial do not automatically make you a “western liberal”. It makes you … you know …. human. Human rights is not something invented by “western liberals”.

  155. 155
    nestor says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Bob Loblaw has his hands full with the JREF power shift.

    You, on the other hand, seem to have much more free time.

  156. 156
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    What is this nonsense? Can you and nestor take your bullshit feud back wherever it came from? Because what it lacks in coherence, it makes up in absurdity.

    @Martin:

    But the people of North Korea have zero perspective of their place on the planet. If we came storming in, they’re very likely to turn on us as foreign invaders than as liberators. They’ve been so far removed from the world stage, that socially they’re like aliens among humans.

    That was a Star Trek episode. And crazy ignorant.

  157. 157
    Martin says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    Humanitarian actions only qualify if a particular regime, in very narrow spheres of influence globally, has gone and made too many enemies for itself.

    I think that’s too simplistic. The UN has no independent military capacity, so their actions are going to reflect the willingness and ability of member nations to fill that role. Who is in a position to intervene in Sri Lanka? The US. India. Uh… I don’t think China even has enough capacity to do it.

  158. 158

    @Bob Loblaw: Ah, well, perhaps you don’t remember me. It has been a couple of years since I posted there. And I’m truly sorry for this clogging up the thread, but I’m being attacked here for being something I most manifestly am not.

    @nestor: Look here, troll. If your point is that I’m a 9/11 Truther, then you need to stop linking to my videos that demonstrate I’m actually a 9/11 Truth debunker. Debunker, you know? That means someone who spends blood and treasure trying to talk 9/11 Truthers out of their tree.

  159. 159
    Bob Loblaw says:

    @Martin:

    I think you’re misunderstanding. The bottleneck is obstruction, not lack of capacity.

    Libya can be safely intervened with UN and Arab League support because China didn’t buy enough of its oil and Qaddafi once tried to kill King Abdullah of Saudi Arabia.

    @Joseph Nobles:

    Ah, well, perhaps you don’t remember me.

    How many Bob Loblaws do you think exist online?

  160. 160
    Ija says:

    @nestor:

    This is the paragraphs after that line you cited:

    My interest in 9/11 conspiracy theories stems from two places. When I was a young teenager, I was starting to be consumed by various types of woo. I found a book in my local library, The Bermuda Triangle Mystery: Solved! by Lawrence David Kusche. His patient research and debunking of all Triangle mysteries was a revelation to me. I’ve always felt a debt to him that helping to debunk 9/11 CT satisfies. I am also very liberal in my politics. I was posting on my favorite website in 2002, The Smirking Chimp, when someone posted a link to the Hunt the Boeing! website. It caused a sensation and was very quickly shot down there. However, the natural appeal to such Bush-hating CTs among liberals led me to dedicate quite some time to knocking these theories down. It’s something that has united a number of people across the political spectrum, but I am happy to do my part in resisting these cynical attempts at political snobbery. Government is a useful tool, the people can assert their control over it, and we can work together to root out corruption and build a better future for those who follow us. The 9/11 CT advocates draw their emotional strength from a dark, cynical view of all things political. The boulevard, as Elton John said, is not that bad.

    This is the link from the site. This is from the site’s About page:

    AE911Truth.INFO is dedicated to answering the questions and doubts raised by Architects & Engineers for 9/11 Truth. The group claims to advocate for engineers and architects questioning the “official story” of the 9/11 attacks, but it’s really just putting up a front for PR purposes. They pretend to be spreading real and valuable information, but their website and presentations are filled with misinformation and lies.

    I have zero interest in other people’s personal pissing contest, but when someone is lying as blatantly as you are, it just pisses me off. Either that, or you lack reading comprehension.

  161. 161
  162. 162
    Alex S. says:

    Since it’s late at night I am very relieved that E.D. didn’t burden this post with any substantial arguments expect his fear of round numbers.

  163. 163
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    @Ija: You’re right. The dude’s clearly a hardcore skeptic.

  164. 164
    nestor says:

    @Ija:

    FUCK you.

    How’s that for balance?

  165. 165
    Ija says:

    @nestor:

    FYI, link to Google search to someone’s name is pretty useless. No one would bother to read all those links. Link to specific article or page on a website if you actually want to provide info to people. Quoting the relevant portion of the article is useful too, rather than quoting a one liner and taking it out of context.

    Sorry, didn’t mean to sound like an internet police. I’ll refrain from any further lectures in the future. I’m just so pissed off right now, and this guy is just pissing me off even more.

  166. 166
    Yutsano says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    That means someone who spends blood and treasure trying to talk 9/11 Truthers out of their tree.

    There but for the grace of Allah go you. Good luck with that. I don’t envy your position.

  167. 167
    Jc says:

    Why I’d it so hard for people to say they don’t really no what’s right, but decision X looks like the best decision for the following reasons?

    Look, for arguments sake, everyone should write both a pro and con argument on this, using your best skills on each side.

    Examples –

    Moral argument pro – saving civilians from being crushed by a dictator when those civilians have already led an armed insurrection in a town. Saving 100k

    Moral con – If this was about saving lives, we could get many more lives saved, by doing less violent things, especially in Africa. And would cost a lot less money and wouldn’t blow things up.

    Future effects pro

    We are supporting the riding tide of democracy in the middle east, which stands us in good stead for the future. Setting an example for the future that encourages international norms – no massacring own people.

    Future effects con – may start a tribal war – we dont know and hard to predict the future. Looks like west beating up on Arab country again, which will radicalize more youths against us.

    1. The only ‘moral argument her

  168. 168
    Ija says:

    @nestor:

    FUCK you.

    Not if you are the last person on the planet. I’d rather cause the elimination of the human race.

    It’s kinda awesome, in a way. The blatant lying. With no shame whatsoever.

  169. 169

    @Yutsano: Thanks, and thanks, Ija, for stepping up when you didn’t have to. Perhaps this thread can return to the actual topic again now.

  170. 170
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Wait! What did you get into an argument with the JREF about?

    I regularly listen to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, and I enjoy it, but I detect a sort of crypto-libertarianism in its hosts. Can you shed any light?

  171. 171
    Yutsano says:

    @Joseph Nobles: I suppose a point by point criticism of ED’s points would be constructive but I have neither the energy nor the temperament right now. But this:

    After all, 100,000 was the number of those killed in the firebombing of Tokyo during World War II – the deadliest day of that war

    should be used in all future rhetoric textbooks as a classic example of a strawman.

  172. 172
    nestor says:

    @Ija:

    So, you went through a tortuous process to determine that 9/11 probably wasn’t an inside job.

    Good for you.

  173. 173
    Bob Loblaw says:

    You know, since the blog seems to have been infected by conspiracy theorists from whatever the hell the James Randi Education Foundation is, this might be a good time for some moderating FPer to use some of those banning powers they took to bragging about recently.

    Or we could just enjoy the performance art, I suppose. Bit postmodernist though. I’m more of a fan of traditional narrative arcs.

  174. 174
    Calouste says:

    Some ED Kain bullshit again.

    First, we’re 5 days into the no-fly zone, so comparing it with one night’s bombing is rather dishonest (but we’re used to that from him).

    Second, during the Rwandan genocide, about 800,000 people were killed in 100 days. 8,000 per day. Without assistance of heavy weapons and air power, and in a location where people had some places to fly to in all directions instead of being trapped in a fairly narrow strip between the sea and the desert. 100,000 might be a tad on the high side, but Gaddafi could have easily killed ten of thousands in five days if he had set his mind to it.

  175. 175
    Allan says:

    @Ija: Hey, I thought it was my job to be the hall monitor around here!

    But yeah, it was immediately apparent to me upon reading a few sentences that nestor is either really stupid or willfully slandering Joseph Nobles. And having had a quarrel with Mr. Nobles on the Twitter for reasons I’ve long since forgotten, I’m especially eager to defend his honor here and now.

    And now I see at 172 that we have our answer: nestor really is that stupid.

  176. 176

    @Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel): It wasn’t so much the politics of JREF, which I don’t know I could describe in any real way. (One of the biggest JREF supporters is Hal Bidlack, a fine and true Democratic voice.) I didn’t like the way moderation happened there, and when I ran afoul of what I perceived to be protected posters, I was pretty much done. Instead of continuing to be goaded into eventual banning, I asked that my online membership be rolled up.

    JREF does a lot of really good work, though, and if I ever had the spare cash, I might finally make it to one of the Amaz!ng Meetings. This was strictly an online forum problem I was dealing with.

  177. 177
    nestor says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    The Amazing Randi always said nice things about you.

  178. 178
    nestor says:

    @Allan:

    You’re a racist fuck.

  179. 179

    @Bob Loblaw: You’re really not the Bob Loblaw from JREF? Wow. Weird, but not impossible that two people with the same name would identify themselves online with both first and last name. Unless Bob Loblaw is a character in some book I’ve never read. Peace! It was an honest mistake.

    @Allan: D’oh! Twitter can be the 140-character devil, can’t it? :D

  180. 180

    @Yutsano: I ventured out into the rain to get some. :)

  181. 181
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Ah. Gotcha. Thanks.

    In John Cole’s sight, we are all protected posters. Amen.

  182. 182
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Bob Loblaw is a character from Arrested Development played by Scott Baio. The joke is in the name itself.

    My law blog is quite the mouthful.

  183. 183
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    @Bob Loblaw:

    http://thebobloblawlawblog.blogspot.com/

    No posts. Pourquoi?

  184. 184
    nestor says:

    My law blog is quite the mouthful

    Where?

  185. 185
    Allan says:

    @Joseph Nobles: Yes, it can.

    Case in point: this comment from nestor would fit on Twitter with about 120 characters left over.

  186. 186
    Bob Loblaw says:

    Apparently nobody here has ever seen Arrested Development. And are struggling to understand what the joke is.

    Say it out loud. Bob Loblaw = blah blah blah. Bob Loblaw law blog = blah blah blah blah blah. Not a real place online.

  187. 187
    Ija says:

    @Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel):

    I regularly listen to the Skeptics Guide to the Universe, and I enjoy it

    They had Jon Ronson on a couple of times, and I thought he was great.

    Ronson has a show on BBC which is sort of like This American Life, and in one show, he said “Fuck off” to a 7/7 London bombing truther (oh yes, they have that in the UK, too) after the guy said that Ronson is a racist for believing that Muslims carried out the 7/7 bombing. I can’t imagine NPR airing something like that. (Well, it’s on the podcast version, I don’t know if BBC bleeped it on the radio or not). But still, pretty confrontational, Ira Glass would not probably do anything like that.

  188. 188
    Parallel 5ths (Ionian Steel) says:

    @Ija:

    http://www.bbc.co.uk/radio4/co.....n_on.shtml

    Cool. My job necessitates hours of dull physical labor. I would definitely go mental without my ipod. I will add this to my rotation of podcasts

  189. 189

    @Bob Loblaw:

    You’d be better off using an example like Sri Lanka.

    Only if you ignore the fact that the Tamils started the shooting/bombing war against the Sinhalese-dominated government.

  190. 190

    @Bob Loblaw:

    LOL!

    I’ve seen this kerfuffle coming for a while now.

    Lemme guess- you post at other sites under handles such as Tyler Durden and HanShotFirst, right? Or is that one of the other of the thousands of Bob Loblaws online? You all know each other, right?

  191. 191
    cleek says:

    here here, EDK

  192. 192

    This post is morally obtuse.

    None of this matters. We are bombing another country

    The reasons against bombing another country aren’t “because it will piss off the bombing fairy,” but because of the humanitarian cost. You can’t claim that none of “this” – including the massive humanitarian benefits – “don’t matter.” Of course they matter. Human beings matter; they matter more than any other considerations.

  193. 193
    OzoneR says:

    @E.D. Kain:

    Saddam Hussein tortured his own people, killing many of them. It was a humanitarian mission as much of anything, our invasion of Iraq. He also had WMD’s…at one point.

    maybe we should have gotten UN approval to have a No Fly Zone around Iraq like we did in Libya.

    Oh wait, we did

  194. 194

    Also – you can’t base on argument on how troubling and fraught with danger interventions are, and then turn around and complain that they’re not carried out widely, in every oppressive country in the world, but only in rare, particularly extreme circumstances.

    That is completely contradictory.

  195. 195

    @E.D. Kain:

    Saddam Hussein tortured his own people, killing many of them. It was a humanitarian mission as much of anything, our invasion of Iraq.

    No, it wasn’t. Iraq was never a humanitarian intervention. That was never the purpose. It was a war fought for reasons of self-defense and national interest. Really lousy reasons, certainly, but those were the reasons.

    The protection we offered the Kurds, and the No Fly Zone in the south, were done for humanitarian reasons, but no, Bush’s invasion was not a humanitarian intervention. You’re just confusing the purpose of the war with the propaganda used to sell it.

  196. 196
    agrippa says:

    @MaximusNYC:

    War is never tidy and idealistic. It is homicidal and destructive; and, very diffucult to end when you think it ought to end.

    Query: Whys is Qadaffy being singled out for special treatment. The world is full of Tin pot dictators, why choose him?

  197. 197
    agrippa says:

    There is a bigger picture here.
    People need to look at that – “The rulers cannot rule in the same old way; the ruled cannot live in the same old way” – the Arab World has a problem.

  198. 198
    kay says:

    I’m temperamentally a non-interventionist, but I think liberals are going to run into a problem if they rely on international law and norms, and the UN, only when it suits them.
    The whole premise of an alliance is that “their” interests are “our interests”.
    I don’t think we can say that it matters a lot what the rest of the world thinks re:Iraq (which was one of the main arguments liberals relied on to oppose Bush, that he had reduced our ‘moral’ standing in the world) but doesn’t matter what the rest of the world thinks re: Libya.
    I didn’t rely on the moral argument, but plenty of liberals did.
    I think they have to square those two things, or it interventionist and non-interventionist end up coming from the same place: we’re big enough and powerful enough not to care what our allies or others want or ask.
    I’m not sure we can be internationalists and recognize international aims,law and norms only when the action (or inaction) lines up perfectly with what we want.

  199. 199
    OzoneR says:

    @agrippa:

    The world is full of Tin pot dictators, why choose him?

    low hanging fruit

  200. 200
    Jonny Scrum-half says:

    I agree completeley with ED. Humanitarian reasons are fine if someone wants to go help people who are being oppressed. But they are not a reason to use our military to risk the lives of American citizens if our national interest isn’t implicated.

  201. 201

    @agrippa:

    Query: Whys is Qadaffy being singled out for special treatment. The world is full of Tin pot dictators, why choose him?

    He was in the midst of the commission of a crime against humanity that dwarfs the “ordinary” repression of a standard tin pot dictator. He was going to flatten cities, turn them into deserts, carry out massacres on a profound scale. He’d already used tanks, artillery, and air bombing against crowds of peaceful protesters, and he’d made his intentions toward Benghazi and towards the members of the opposition quite clear, so don’t try to pretend this is a debatable point.

    For all of the reasons people give for opposing this war, we can’t be doing this all over the world. Only in the most extreme circumstances.

  202. 202
    DPirate says:

    The humanitarian argument is entirely suspect, imo, in part because we give a pass to Bahrain. There are reports of police/military killing civilians there, too. We give them a pass because they are our buddies, and no one says a damn thing about it. If you want to make the argument that military intervention is ok for humanitarian reasons, then you need to apply this across the board, and not turn a blind eye to those we have business interests with.

    Furthermore, I think you must also support military action in Sudan, Congo, Yemen, and probably a handful of other places around the world that aren’t hot topics in the US media.

    Why Libya? Seriously, why Libya? I do not buy the “humanitarian” sound-bite. Oil and strategic location, and a government that is not in bed with Washington, London, Paris and Israel.

  203. 203

    Why Libya? Seriously, why Libya? I do not buy the “humanitarian” sound-bite.

    There are actually answers to this question, but you’ve made clear you don’t want to hear them. You’ve decided the answers are bogus by definition, regardless of the facts.

    So, don’t ask if you don’t want an answer.

  204. 204

    Two of the more vacuous arguments I’ve seen people who really should know better making:

    How can you claim your donation to a beggar is humanitarian, when you don’t make that same donation to every beggar in the city?

    How can it be moral for you to pull a drowning man out of the water, when you robbed a bank six years ago?

  205. 205
    kay says:

    @DPirate:

    The humanitarian argument is entirely suspect, imo, in part because we give a pass to Bahrain.

    But that’s too easy. One doesn’t disprove the other.

    Turn it around. If we hadn’t have intervened, and some number were slaughtered, would the humanitarian charge that we were irresponsible or neglected a duty be discredited by the fact that we also didn’t intervene other places?

    Would that be our defense to inaction? Consistency?

  206. 206
    Barry says:

    @The Dangerman: “Pan Am 103”

    That’s odd – I thought that the US (and the UK and the rest of the West) had been cozying up to Qaddafi for the past few years, even to the point of trying to sell him weapons.

  207. 207
    kay says:

    @DPirate:

    Oil and strategic location, and a government that is not in bed with Washington, London, Paris and Israel.

    So the conditions to humanitarian intervention are as follows:

    no oil, no strategic location, and a government that is in bed with Washington, London, Paris and Israel?

    And the defense to inaction is one or more of those conditions were not met?

  208. 208

    Responsibility to Protect

    “Threshold for military interventions

    According to the International Commission for Intervention and State Sovereignty (ICISS) Report in 2001 (which was not adopted by national governments), any form of a military intervention initiated under the premise of responsibility to protect must fulfill the following six criteria in order to be justified as an extraordinary measure of intervention:

    1. Just Cause
    2. Right Intention
    3. Final Resort
    4. Legitimate Authority
    5. Proportional Means
    6. Reasonable Prospect for Success”

    We’d never get legitimate authority to go into Bahrain. Unless the repression gets ramped up a couple orders of magnitude, we wouldn’t have proportional means.

    You can take issue with R2P as a doctrine. You can argue that the Libyan intervention doesn’t meet one or more of the six criteria.

    But what you can’t do is note that not every case of government repression is treated the same, and then leap to the conclusion that the humanitarian justification for acting in Libya is therefore unprincipled.

  209. 209

    Let’s review the impact of this war on Libya’s oil:

    Khadaffy was happily selling all the oil he could to the west. The spigots were on.

    The protests broke out, Khadaffy cracked down, the rebels took up arms, and the flow of oil was interrupted.

    Khadaffy struck back, and was just about to smash the rebellion and restore the status quo ante.

    The west – including several of Khadaffy’s customers – intervened, thus extending the rebellion that interrupted oil supplies, pissing off Khadaffy so that he might be inclined to shut us off if he wins – and yet, no serious action is taken or contemplated for sending in enough force to remove him quickly.

    So, I’m not seeing the War for Oil angle. If our interest was oil, we’d be putting on a sad face while the Libyan government hosed the blood off the oil tanks and hung up the Open for Business sign.

  210. 210
    OzoneR says:

    @DPirate:

    Why Libya? Seriously, why Libya?

    once again, low hanging fruit. You got a dictator who has lost the support of most of his people, and has no real allies in the world to strike back at us with.

    He’s the easiest one to make an example of.

  211. 211
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @DPirate:

    If you want to make the argument that military intervention is ok for humanitarian reasons, then you need to apply this across the board

    This isn’t really a gotcha. Read the thread. There are plenty of examples of action in pursuit of moral ends that have to be counterbalanced with a calculus about the likelihood of success. To wit: we don’t prosecute everyone who’s suspected of rape; sometimes it’s determined that there isn’t enough evidence. Does making that decision mean that the state doesn’t treat rape seriously, or _shouldn’t_ treat rape seriously? Some of the decision-making about which cases to pursue may well be tainted by awful, retrograde, sexist attitudes, too. Does that mean that no one can pursue any rape case because the process is inherently flawed? This “if it’s not consistent, you don’t really mean it” approach feels pretty good until you think about how impossible it is to apply to things _you_ support.

  212. 212
    Dave says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Exactly. Just because you can’t fix everything doesn’t mean you shouldn’t fix anything.

  213. 213

    Should firefighters have to rush into every burning building, no matter how fully involved, no matter whether the floor is about to collapse, in order for them to have the moral standing to rush into any burning building?

    There were some firefighters in Provincetown, MA a few years ago who looted some stuff from a destroyed building after they’d put the fire out. Should the PFD therefore no longer respond to fire calls? Sorry, ma’am. I could stop that fire from spreading from your kitchen, but I lack the moral authority due to my past transgressions.

  214. 214
    kay says:

    one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

    So E.D. Kain needs a direct benefit to the US to justify intervention.

    But if there is a direct benefit to the US, that disproves that it’s humanitarian, under the liberal test for humanitarian intervention, and it is instead self-interested.

    I don’t see how any intervention meets these two different tests, at the same time.

  215. 215
    El Cid says:

    Okay, I never seem to comment on these things until there already are 1500+ comments, but I do agree that when the figure of 100,000 was presented it was baseless, it was presented by a few US military officials, and as far as a number goes, probably ridiculously high.

    But then, in terms of the general debate, I don’t know what number would be “required” to trigger the same levels of concern which follow the 100K figure.

  216. 216
    mr. whipple says:

    Coming in late. This was a good thread.

  217. 217
    El Cid says:

    That the African Union has now supported an interim government and a rebuke of Qaddafi is a very good thing. It’s dramatically more respected on the continent than the US or NATO. That is only comparative, though — it’s not like people hold it in their hearts.

    The UN often acts in concert with the AU.

    This matches the apparent declared demands of the rebel coalition, which didn’t actually directly request airstrikes, but the immediate recognition of the rebel / dissident coalition as the actual government of Libya, as well as arms, etc.

  218. 218
    Ija says:

    @kay:

    I think Kain’s point is that humanitarian reasons are not sufficient to justify intervention. His two criteria are attacking another country or threatening American interest:

    We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.

    So that’s his only test, humanitarian reasons be damned.

    BTW, are you the same kay as the front-pager kay? I know you usually focus on domestic policy, but it would be very interesting to read a post from you on Libya and liberal interventionism in general.

  219. 219
    El Cid says:

    @DPirate:

    Furthermore, I think you must also support military action in Sudan, Congo, Yemen, and probably a handful of other places around the world that aren’t hot topics in the US media.

    As a serious topic, military intervention into Sudan would have been likely disastrous, whereas the actual pattern of constant negotiations, incentives and disincentives, peacekeepers, humanitarian aid and so forth accomplished far more — now including the independence of Southern Sudan.

    In Congo it would have achieved nothing. Yemen — there already has been military intervention, mainly targeted in areas of the country already where rebellion was present, on the justification that the US was targeting terrorist targets.

    The effectiveness of military intervent

  220. 220

    The effectiveness of military intervent

    Cid! Cid! Speak to me, Cid!

    Nooooooooooooooooooooo!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

  221. 221
    Joe Beese says:

    Whether there are humanitarian justifications for bringing the American Death Machine to Libya or not is irrelevant. Because that’s not why we’re doing it.

    And anyone who can’t see that despite our continuing support for the more cooperative tyrants of the region – or who thinks that Tomahawk missiles may bring about humanitarian outcomes despite the intentions of the people launching them – is too deluded to bother with.

  222. 222
    ColeFan says:

    Hey, E.D., did you read Angry Black Lady’s hilarious “history” of multilateralism, the UN, the League of Nations, and WWI? I was stunned by the ignorance of material that just might have some relevance re: our endless wars for peace, justice, unicorns, and lollipops. You’re wasting your time on this blog.

  223. 223
    No Blood for Oil says:

    I think we just found the real reason for the “humanitarian” intervention:

    Qaddafi threatened to replace western oil firms with companies from India and China in a March 2 speech and more than 10 days later discussed possible investments with the ambassadors of the two countries and Russia, state-run television reported.
    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Italian lawmakers on March 16 that “China’s reasoning is an economic one” when it comes to Libya.
    Rome-based Eni, Italy’s largest oil company, France’s Total SA (FP) and Spain’s Repsol are among foreign companies that have evacuated their staff and scaled down production in Libya. More than 20 percent of the oil imported by Austria, Ireland and Italy is Libyan crude, the IEA said.
    “I don’t consider relations with Libya compromised,” Eni Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni told investors in London on March 16. “We maintain relations with the national oil company, which is our natural counterpart.”

    Funny how the push for military intervention really picked up in March.

    It all comes down to oil, as usual.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....ields.html

    Westerners didn’t want to be replaced by Chinese firms.

  224. 224
    Canadian Observer says:

    I think we just found the real reason for the “humanitarian” intervention:

    Qaddafi threatened to replace western oil firms with companies from India and China in a March 2 speech and more than 10 days later discussed possible investments with the ambassadors of the two countries and Russia, state-run television reported.
    Italian Foreign Minister Franco Frattini told Italian lawmakers on March 16 that “China’s reasoning is an economic one” when it comes to Libya.
    Rome-based Eni, Italy’s largest oil company, France’s Total SA (FP) and Spain’s Repsol are among foreign companies that have evacuated their staff and scaled down production in Libya. More than 20 percent of the oil imported by Austria, Ireland and Italy is Libyan crude, the IEA said.
    “I don’t consider relations with Libya compromised,” Eni Chief Executive Officer Paolo Scaroni told investors in London on March 16. “We maintain relations with the national oil company, which is our natural counterpart.”

    Funny how the push for military intervention really picked up in March.

    It all comes down to oil, as usual.

    http://www.bloomberg.com/news/.....ields.html

    Westerners didn’t want to be replaced by Chinese firms.

  225. 225

    @Joe Beese:

    Because that’s not why we’re doing it.

    Of course not. We’re clearly intervening in Libya in order to extend the interruption of oil supplies brought about by the rebellion.

    And anyone who can’t see that despite our continuing support for the more cooperative tyrants of the region

    This would be a much stronger argument if it wasn’t coming on the heels of the Obama administration helping to push out two, and now maybe three, cooperative tyrants in Tunisia, Egypt, and now Yemen.

    – or who thinks that Tomahawk missiles may bring about humanitarian outcomes despite the intentions of the people launching them – is too deluded to bother with.

    Those silly Benghazis. They’re just too deluded to bother with. If only they could understand the impact of the intervention into their country as well as you, Joe.

  226. 226
    Canadian Observer says:

    Of course not. We’re clearly intervening in Libya in order to extend the interruption of oil supplies brought about by the rebellion.

    You’re doing it because on March 2nd Ghadaffi said he was going to kick out western oil companies and replace them with Chinese and Russian ones.

  227. 227
    Corner Stone says:

    @Canadian Observer: That entire article is fascinating.
    The timing of it all is very interesting.

  228. 228
    Canadian Observer says:

    Indeed, CornerStone, and I’m going to bring it up every time I hear drivel about how this was done to save innocent Benghazis.

    It’s a war for oil, and to send a message to China.

  229. 229
    Fe E says:

    @pattonbt:

    Bluntly: you have to start somewhere.

    To use a parallel for your argument, are you suggesting that since we can’t cure advanced pancreatic cancer we shouldn’t even bother with dealing with carcinomas?

    I’ve been an avowed liberal for a couple of decades now, and I always agonize over my internal conflicts with regard to US military involvement. I would love to fix every problem everywhere immediately! But ther are a lot of sadly practical reasons why we can’t, and if we can’t, we won’t.

    If North Korea were rending itself apart with protests and rebellion verging on civil war that looked likely to spread and involve South Korea and Japan, well, then acting might limit the duration and scope of the conflict. Right now, since North Korea looks to be pretty cohesive (miserable, but cohesive) bombing away would just start the fires and spread the misery.

  230. 230
    Nerull says:

    Is “We couldn’t have helped in Rwanda” accepted wisdom now or just what people tell themselves after sitting around with their thumbs up their asses while one of the worst genocides in modern history occurred?

  231. 231
    Canadian Observer says:

    Part of it is also the American Imperial establishment trying to over-compensate for their terminal national/economic decline and replacement by China on the world state, much like how the USSR lashed out at Afghanistan when faced with their own similar decline to what is happening to the US now.

  232. 232
    Culture of Truth says:

    Liberal and neoconservative hawks, and diehard supporters of Obama

    I can respect ED Kain’s position, but not his line of argument. Smears and mischaracterization of opponents’ motives are reminiscent of arguments made in favor of the war in Iraq, also.

  233. 233
    Corner Stone says:

    @Canadian Observer:

    about how this was done to save innocent Benghazis.

    It does put the fantastical PR claims of “100,000 lives saved” into a different light, if this account is accurate.

  234. 234
    Joe Beese says:

    It all comes down to oil, as usual.

    This is my surprised face.

    And two years from now, when the full dimensions of this clusterfuck are apparent, all the good Obots here and elsewhere who were stupid enough to believe it was different ths time will wring their hands and bleat “How could we have known?”

  235. 235
    OzoneR says:

    @Culture of Truth:

    Liberal and neoconservative hawks, and diehard supporters of Obama

    I’m a liberal hawk, I’m not ashamed of it. I believe in the carrot and the stick, mostly the carrot, on rare occasions, like Rwanda, Darfur, Libya…the stick.

  236. 236

    @Canadian Observer:

    Qaddafi threatened to replace western oil firms with companies from India and China in a March 2 speech

    …if we backed the protesters, on whom he had already begun to crack down.

    We then proceeded to do the very thing that threatened to cut off the oil.

    Still not making any sense.

  237. 237
    Canadian Observer says:

    You’re lying, joe.

    There was no “if” in the article. He said he was going to once the rebellion was put out.

    A war for oil and a proxy strike against China. Nothing more.

  238. 238

    @Canadian Observer:

    Indeed, CornerStone, and I’m going to bring it up every time I hear drivel about how this was done to save innocent Benghazis.

    You go on with your bad self. And I’m going to point out that it only further demonstrates that the War for Oil line doesn’t make any sense.

  239. 239
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: The protests in Libya started in February. I have no proof of this, but I wouldn’t be terribly surprised if Qaddafi played this oil card–in the middle of the crisis, not before it–precisely to attract additional sympathy from the “No blood for oil” crowd.

  240. 240
    Canadian Observer says:

    The article starts:

    Muammar Qaddafi may expel western energy companies from Libya should he snuff out the month-old armed rebellion against his regime, draining money from the economy and hurting exporters such as Eni SpA (ENI) and Repsol YPF SA. (REP)

    Nothing about “IF the west supports the rebellion”. He was already on his way to replacing European companies with Chinese ones, and that threatened the US.

  241. 241
    Canadian Observer says:

    @FlipYrWhig

    Huh? The west wasn’t even making noises about intervening until after he made this threat.

    Bob Gates even dismissed a no fly zone as “loose talk” pre-March 2nd.

  242. 242
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: I think you’re being suckered precisely as intended.

  243. 243
    Canadian Observer says:

    But never mind the striking difference between the posture of the west before and after Ghadaffi said he was bringing in China, you’ve ALWAYS been at war with East Asia! It’s true!

  244. 244
    Canadian Observer says:

    Shorter FlipYrWhig

    “We’ve always been at war with Eastasia!”

  245. 245
    FlipYrWhig says:

    “After I crush the rebellion, I’ll eject Western oil companies. That way if anyone tries to stop me from crushing the rebellion, I’ll get to say it was all about oil.”

  246. 246
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: Shorter Canadian Observer: Merka bad!

  247. 247

    @Canadian Observer:

    There was no “if” in the article. He said he was going to once the rebellion was put out.

    We can all read the article you linked to, you know. And quote it:

    Qaddafi, 68, took control of Ras Lanuf and Brega oil facilities and moved near Benghazi, the center of the rebellion, as the United Nations Security Council voted to establish a no- fly zone over Libya…His threat to bring China into the energy business that Italy has enjoyed for five decades may reshape the economic map of the country holding Africa’s biggest oil reserves.

    So, you’re lying. You’re attributing his statements and actions once the UN already voted to intervene on March 16 to his statement on March 2.

    In point of fact, the article disproves your contention, and proves mine. In response to the UN vote and the NATO action, Khadaffy made it clear he would cut off the west if he won.

    And, the UN and NATO were already well-aware of his threat from 2 weeks earlier when they decided to intervene.

    Nice own-goal. This is what happens when you decide beforehand that everything proves you right, and don’t bother to think about it.

  248. 248
    Tone in DC says:

    @Joseph Nobles:

    I’m deeply troubled by the ability of the CIA to organize “spontaneous” outpourings of praise around downed military pilots when a helicopter happens to crash. I especially fear the ability of the Libyans to participate in these CIA fake rallies even when a few of them are actually shot dead by the “rescuers.”

    I’m even more deeply troubled by the ability of 22 comments on the freshly loaded front page to become 92 comments once I click in to read them half a second later.

    It sounds as if you’re saying there are some folks here who are ready to pounce. I truly hope that you’re wrong.

    Operation Mockingbird ended a while back. At least, I hope so.

  249. 249
    Corner Stone says:

    @FlipYrWhig: IMO that’s a dramatic over reading of Gaddafi, but YMMV.

  250. 250
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: Also before and after issuing direct threats about Benghazi. But it can’t be that.

  251. 251
    Canadian Observer says:

    He made it clear on March 2nd. That’s when he first threatened to cut out the west.

    And lo!, the move for military intervention suddenly picked up!

    I wonder why?

  252. 252
    Joe Beese says:

    Even digby – who is always so “puzzled” when Obama does things like try cut Social Security – isn’t buying the bullshit this time.

    the truth is that we don’t intervene in any humanitarian crises. We intervene in places in which we have large financial and strategic interests, period. It’s merely a convenience to attach a humanitarian label to it and persuade everyone that we are doing God’s work instead.

    http://digbysblog.blogspot.com.....olicy.html

  253. 253

    So, updated timeline:

    Khadaffy is selling oil to the west.

    Rebellion breaks out.

    Khadaffy cracks down on the rebellion, and threatens to cut off oil to the west if they back the rebellion.

    Rebels interrupt oil supplies.

    Khadaffy acts to crush the rebellion, nearly does so.

    UN and NATO countries decide to intervene, extending the rebellion that cut off the supplies, and angering Khadaffy to the extent that he will cut off oil supplies if he wins.

    Thus proving, apparently, that this is a War for Oil. Because we did the things most likely to lead to an interruption of the west’s supplies of Libyan oil. Or something.

  254. 254
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Corner Stone: Well-practiced anti-Western leaders know how to stick a thumb in the eye of Western ideals. Ahmedinejad does it very well himself.

  255. 255
    Canadian Observer says:

    And, the UN and NATO were already well-aware of his threat from 2 weeks earlier when they decided to intervene.

    Yup, an the posture of the west underwent a drastic change the first week of March from “hands off” to “we must intervene to avert a humanitarian crisis!”

  256. 256
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Joe Beese: Digby, dejected and lugubrious about something in the news? Well that IS a surprise!

  257. 257
    Canadian Observer says:

    UN and NATO countries decide to intervene, extending the rebellion that cut off the supplies, and angering Khadaffy to the extent that he will cut off oil supplies if he wins.

    He made it clear he’d cut out western oil companies on March 2nd.

    It’s not about “the flow of oil supplies” short-term, but the long-term interests of the west to have THEIR corporations in charge of Libyan oil fields instead of state-run Chinese ones.

    The though of China owning that much oil makes the west shit bricks, and for good reason.

  258. 258

    @Canadian Observer:

    A war for oil and a proxy strike against China. Nothing more.

    China could have vetoed the UN resolution, being a permanent member of the Security Council, but did not.

    Why would China allow a proxy strike against it, that would have the effect of preventing it from having greater access to Libyan oil?

    Your reasoning is always morally twisted, but this is a new level of logical confusion.

  259. 259
    Canadian Observer says:

    China could have vetoed the UN resolution, being a permanent member of the Security Council, but did not.

    They hope the US will get bogged down in another quagmire and squander what moral authority it has left (not much) and also borrow a few more billion from them.

    China owns your debt, remember?

  260. 260
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: I’ve also noticed that in many basketball games, near the end, the losing team starts committing a lot of fouls. Some people will tell you that it’s to stop the clock, but I think the obvious change in strategy shows that their coach has been bribed by gamblers.

  261. 261

    @Canadian Observer:

    Muammar Qaddafi may expel western energy companies from Libya should he snuff out the month-old armed rebellion against his regime, draining money from the economy and hurting exporters such as Eni SpA (ENI) and Repsol YPF SA. (REP)

    And then cites actions he took on March 16, after the UN voted to intervene.

    Not March 2, when he took no actions, but warned us.

    We can all read the article, you know.

    @Canadian Observer:

    The west wasn’t even making noises about intervening until after he made this threat…Bob Gates even dismissed a no fly zone as “loose talk” pre-March 2nd.

    So, which is it? Was there no talk about intervening before March 2nd, or was there already “loose talk” before March 2nd?

    The answer, of course, is the latter.

  262. 262
    Ija says:

    @Canadian Observer:

    you’ve ALWAYS been at war with East Asia! It’s true!

    Wha?? I didn’t realize we are at war with Japan and South Korea, where we have troops stationed. OMG, that must be why Japan is in a nuclear crisis, that was actually us attacking! Now everything makes sense. You guys don’t actually think that was a nuclear reactor, do you? It was our nuclear bombs.

  263. 263
    Canadian Observer says:

    Wha?? I didn’t realize we are at war with Japan and South Korea, where we have troops stationed. OMG, that must be why Japan is in a nuclear crisis, that was actually us attacking!

    What’s that *whoosh* sound?

    Oh, it’s something that went right over Ija’s head.

    My God, I knew American schools were bad, but you must have even dropped out of them!

  264. 264

    @Canadian Observer:

    But never mind the striking difference between the posture of the west before and after Ghadaffi said he was bringing in China

    Once again, we can all read the article. Khadaffy said he was bringing in China on March 16, after the UN vote.

    He threatened to bring in China on March 2nd, after which the west took the action most likely to lead to him cutting us off, and then he predictably followed through.

    This is a profound own-goal. You just demonstrated that we took action despite the likelihood it would lead to an interruption of western access to Libyan oil.

  265. 265
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ija: I can’t tell if you’re snarking on snark, but, just in case: Eastasia.

  266. 266
    Canadian Observer says:

    Yes, joe, it was dismissed as “loose talk” until Ghadaffi did something to make the western oil companies mad (and threaten to bring in America’s new superpower rival to replace them).

  267. 267
    Canadian Observer says:

    Look under the caption of the first photo in my link, joe.

    It says:

    Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi threatened to replace western oil firms with companies from India and China in a March 2 speech.

    Are you this obtuse, or are you muddying the waters on purpose for your Imperial masters?

  268. 268
    Corner Stone says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    And then cites actions he took on March 16, after the UN voted to intervene.

    The UN vote was on March 17th and NFZ ops started March 18th.

  269. 269

    @Joe Beese:

    the truth is that we don’t intervene in any humanitarian crises. We intervene in places in which we have large financial and strategic interests, period.

    Like Kosovo. Or Somalia.

    Categorically denying the existence of the humanitarian argument is just a dodge by those who cannot answer it.

  270. 270
    Corner Stone says:

    @joe from Lowell:

    He threatened to bring in China on March 2nd, after which the west took the action most likely to lead to him cutting us off, and then he predictably followed through.

    And had discussions with the Ambassadors from India, China and Russi about investments on March 12th.
    Also before the UN voted for NFZ on March 17th.

  271. 271
    Canadian Observer says:

    Like Kosovo.

    Serbia was the only country left in Europe besides Belarus that Russia had a good relationship with (almost a client state, really), and the US wanted to put an end to that.

    It was sending a message–“ally with Russia instead of joining NATO and the EU, or we’ll find an excuse to bomb you”.

    As to Somalia, you’re seriously suggesting there’s no strategic importance to Somalia in regards to oil? Are you KIDDING me?

    Just want to make sure you wish to go down this road before I smack you down. Are you sure about this?

  272. 272
    Ija says:

    @Canadian Observer:

    The UN subregion of Eastern Asia and other common definitions[3] of East Asia contain the entirety of the People’s Republic of China[10] (including all SARs and autonomous regions), Republic of China[11] (commonly known as “Taiwan”), Japan, North Korea, South Korea, and Mongolia[3].

    I might have dropped out of school, but I can use teh Google. And yes, we were at war with Japan in the past, not ALWAYS. We were not at war with South Korea.

    Seriously, you are making me ashamed that liberals like to say nice things about Canada and its people. Faced with sanctimonious bullshit like this from Canadians and Europeans, I can understand the seduction for conservatives to hate anything to do with Canada and Europe. But my rational mind reminds me that you are not representative of your fine country. For all we know, you might not be a Canadian at all, just pretending to be one.

  273. 273
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Canadian Observer: Are you by any chance an avid reader of _Counterpunch_?

  274. 274
    Canadian Observer says:

    @Ija

    God almighty you’re dense. Here you go, Eastasia:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/E.....ghty-Four)

  275. 275
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Ija: He doesn’t strike me as actually Canadian, no. He’s doing the blog nym equivalent of sewing a maple leaf flag on his backpack to get less grief at the hostel.

  276. 276
    Corner Stone says:

    @Ija: It’s from Orwell’s book 1984. Because I no longer think you’re snarking.

  277. 277

    @Canadian Observer:

    He made it clear he’d cut out western oil companies on March 2nd.

    Nope. He threatened to cut off oil on March 2. He made it clear that he would do so on March 16, in response to the UN vote.

    The though of China owning that much oil makes the west shit bricks, and for good reason.

    As well as, apparently, China itself, who rather notably failed to block the UN Security Council vote. As well as Nigeria, Lebanon, Gabon, and the Arab League.

    The War for Oil storyline is sort of like the JFK assassination theory. Everything, even evidence that contradicts the theory, is actually proof of it. It’s just a matter of coming up with a narrative to explain how.

  278. 278
    Canadian Observer says:

    Read above. China wants to bait you into another Middle Eastern quagmire as your debt (mostly owed to them) piles higher and higher white your middle class disappears and your economy falters, until the final reckoning comes, just like it did with the USSR.

    Again, let’s review:

    *The west doesn’t do jack shit about Libya pre-March 2nd

    *Ghadaffi threatens to replace western oil companies with Chinese ones after he finises defeating the rebellion on March 2nd

    *Suddenly, the clamor for intervention snowballs!

  279. 279

    The War for Oil storyline is sort of like the JFK assassination theory. Everything, even evidence that contradicts the theory, is actually proof of it. It’s just a matter of coming up with a narrative to explain how.

    – joe from Lowell

    (The Chinese decided not to block the UN resolution because of) hope the US will get bogged down in another quagmire and squander what moral authority it has left (not much) and also borrow a few more billion from them.

    – Canadian Observer

  280. 280
    Canadian Observer says:

    Again, joe, just making sure:

    You’re saying Somalia is NOT of strategic importance re: oil?

  281. 281

    @Canadian Observer:

    Libyan leader Muammar Qaddafi threatened to replace western oil firms with companies from India and China in a March 2 speech.

    Yup. “Threatened.” As I’ve pointed out over and over and over, he threatened to do this on March 2, then we voted to intervene, with full knowledge of what his response would be, and then he followed through.

    We voted to take the action most likely to lead him to cut off our oil.

    I’d say the only muddying going on here is your attempt to blur the difference between March 2 and March 16.

  282. 282
    Canadian Observer says:

    Yup. “Threatened.”

    A threat is enough for the corporations. Much like how the real reason for Iraq was because Saddam Hussein wanted to start selling oil in Euros instead of dollars, which would hae ruined the American economy and made the Euro the top reserve currency had others followed suit.

  283. 283

    @Corner Stone:

    The UN vote was on March 17th

    The vote was being lined up before that. They were negotiating the final language for days, which means they’d already gotten assurances from Russia and China that they wouldn’t block it.

  284. 284

    @Canadian Observer:

    Serbia was the only country left in Europe besides Belarus that Russia had a good relationship with (almost a client state, really), and the US wanted to put an end to that.

    You’re shooting at the barn, then drawing bullseyes around the holes.

    As to Somalia, you’re seriously suggesting there’s no strategic importance to Somalia in regards to oil?

    I’m stating, not suggesting, that the mission we carried out in Somalia – guarding UN convoys, and then going after militias that attacked us – has no relevance whatsoever to oil.

  285. 285
    Corner Stone says:

    @joe from Lowell: You can’t keep saying March 16th was after the UN vote to do something.
    If you want to make the argument that the March 16th actions were in response to approaching UN action that’s one thing. But your timeline is factually incorrect otherwise.

  286. 286

    @Canadian Observer:

    A threat is enough for the corporations.

    Enough to make them support the action most likely to lead to their being cut off?

    Dude, you’re flailing.

  287. 287
    Canadian Observer says:

    I’m stating, not suggesting, that the mission we carried out in Somalia – guarding UN convoys, and then going after militias that attacked us – has no relevance whatsoever to oil.

    The vast majority of US oil imports pass through the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea, passing narrow straits near Somalia. It is of VITAL importance to US Imperial oil interests. The long-term goal was to establish a “friendly” government and set up naval bases.

    That didn’t pan out, so they looked to Yemen instead (which should unravel soon and oust their Imperial puppet, hopefully.

  288. 288

    @Canadian Observer:

    Much like how the real reason for Iraq was because Saddam Hussein wanted to start selling oil in Euros instead of dollars, which would hae ruined the American economy and made the Euro the top reserve currency had others followed suit.

    I’m as skeptical of the next guy for the states reasons for invading Iraq, but moving Iraq’s limited oil sales to the Euro would have “ruined the American economy” and “made the Euro the top reserve currency” because there was a good chance other countries would follow Saddam’s lead?

    That doesn’t make a whole lot of sense. The desire to oust a hostile government that the president had long targeted, and to establish military bases to replace those we were leaving in Saudi Arabia, makes much more sense.

  289. 289
    Canadian Observer says:

    Enough to make them support the action most likely to lead to their being cut off?

    Short-term, yes its cut off. Long-term, a western Imperial puppet is installed and a message is sent to any other brown people who even think about kicking out western oil interests and bringing in the Chinese.

  290. 290

    @Corner Stone: You’re right, and I corrected that before you wrote.

  291. 291
    Canadian Observer says:

    Joe–

    Ever wonder why France, German, and Benelux (the heart of the EU) were the biggest western critics of the Iraq War?

    Because they hoped Saddam WOULD remain in power and sell oil in THEIR currency.

  292. 292

    @Canadian Observer:

    The vast majority of US oil imports pass through the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea, passing narrow straits near Somalia. It is of VITAL importance to US Imperial oil interests. The long-term goal was to establish a “friendly” government and set up naval bases.

    So, let me get this straight: we had a VITAL interest that would lead us to install a friendly regime, but then we just gave up, because we lost a dozen soldiers?

    I’ve seen how the U.S. acts when we’re motivated by a desire to secure oil supplies – see OIF. Giving up because we won a battle but took casualties isn’t it.

  293. 293
    Ija says:

    @Corner Stone:

    He didn’t say Eastasia. He wrote East Asia. Go check his post. Honestly, this guy is so condescending towards American I can actually believe he’s accusing me of not knowing what countries comprise East Asia. Since he’s such a genius and we Americans are so dumb and all.

  294. 294
    Gus says:

    @nestor: Nor did he compare the two.

  295. 295
    Canadian Observer says:

    I think any fair-minded person can see I’ve amply demonstrated what this war is really about, even if Imperial dead-enders like joe from Lowell are in denial.

    Oh, and in case any other people here are either ignorant or paid-off supporters, those “spontaneous” demonstrations and hugging of American pilots?

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Mockingbird

    SOP of the CIA.

  296. 296
    Canadian Observer says:

    And remember:

    HE’S GOT THIS!

    http://farm4.static.flickr.com.....298f37.jpg

  297. 297

    @Canadian Observer:

    Short-term, yes its cut off. Long-term, a western Imperial puppet is installed and a message is sent to any other brown people who even think about kicking out western oil interests and bringing in the Chinese.

    OK, at least this is internally logical. But does it explain the facts?

    Was this Gabon’s motive in voting for the resolution? How about Lebanon? Nigeria?

    How about the Arab League?

    How about the fact that the Europeans had to drag Obama into this?

    The humanitarian intervention theory explains the actions of all of the players, while the War for Oil theory has a lot of problems explaining the actions of many of them.

  298. 298
    Canadian Observer says:

    How about the fact that the Europeans had to drag Obama into this?

    *sigh*

    RTFA. Most of the oil companies were European ones, not American. Europeans dragged Obama in my bringing up the spectre of China.

    Anyway, out for now. Be back to kick your ass later.

  299. 299

    @Canadian Observer:

    Ever wonder why France, German, and Benelux (the heart of the EU) were the biggest western critics of the Iraq War?

    Every wonder why other EU countries, like Britain, Spain, the Netherlands, Portugal, Italy, and don’t forget Poland, supported it?

  300. 300

    @Canadian Observer:

    Suddenly, the clamor for intervention snowballs!

    Do you think there was anything else that happened between March 2nd and March 17 that might more plausibly explain Lebanon, Gabon, Negeria, and the Arab League’s expulsion of Libya, other than a desire to protect western oil companies’ access to Libyan oil?

    Anything at all that happened in Libya in the first two weeks of March, for which there is a readily-available explanation for why those countries turned on the Libyan government?

  301. 301

    @Canadian Observer:

    I think any fair-minded person can see I’ve amply demonstrated what this war is really about

    Clearly, it’s Gabon’s desire to ensure western access to Libyan oil, even it means western military action against an African country.

    You think a lot of things.

  302. 302
    ppcli says:

    “Nobody can say for sure what would have happened in Rwanda, though it is almost certain that any intervention would have been too little, too late.”

    No doubt it is comforting to believe this. But it is hard to see what evidence you have, beyond the simple desire to believe it. First of all, it was not a question of “intervention”. The UN troops were already on the ground, and the majority were well-equipped and well-trained. They could have saved hundreds of thousands of lives – *Hundreds of thousands* – if the Belgians hadn’t pulled out all their men and support, leaving only a rump force of the poorest equipped soldiers behind. (Also it could have made a huge difference if Clinton had put as much diplomatic pressure on the French to stop supporting Hutu Power as he put on the Belgians to pull out their forces. Not that the Belgians needed a lot of prompting.) Even so, a handful of poorly equipped Ghanaians and Tunisians with only small arms and hardly any working vehicles or gasoline managed to save the lives of 20,000-odd refugees in the Amahoro stadium, despite being constantly under attack for months. (If they had been Americans instead Ghanians, there would have been a dozen movies about those guys by now.)

    I have had extensive discussions with many friends with one form or another of peacekeeping experience. One was on Dallaire’s staff, a couple of others were with MacKenzie in Bosnia. Not one of them disagrees: 5,000 well-trained and equipped troops at UNAMIR’s disposal would have meant hundreds of thousands of lives saved. 5,000 more would have meant hundreds of thousands more.

    If EDK has any arguments to the contrary, it would be good to hear them. Because it sounds like lazy, uninformed self-deception to me.

  303. 303
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @ppcli:

    Because it sounds like lazy, uninformed self-deception to me.

    But that’s so out of keeping for libertarian pundits! :P

  304. 304
    Tom Hilton says:

    whether from Juan Cole or Bill Kristol

    That’s a very silly thing to say. Agree or disagree with Juan Cole, but if you fail to acknowledge that he brings vastly more credibility to his opinion than Bill Kristol, you undermine everything else you ahve to say about it.

  305. 305
    Elia says:

    Hey look I know all you keyboard philosophers are utter experts on the human condition and North Korea and all–so far be it for me to disagree, considering all I did was take a course on the issue with a professor who lives in South Korea and spent his life studying totalitarianism and has had extensive interactions with refugee North Koreans and is a liaison with the State Department…but if I may, I’d like to humbly raise the possibility that you’re full of shit and don’t know what you’re talking about.

  306. 306
    A Squirrel says:

    I find the notion that the web of institutions that control this country care deeply and meaningfully about the plight of some some extra-national oppressed class rather naive.

    Reading this thread, I see no allusions to real-world humanitarian successes (please spare me Kosovo). There are only hypotheticals about what we should do if we could about really bad leaders. In lieu of Pyongyang – Tripoli!

    It isn’t two 1/2 wars that are doing their fair share to bankrupt the country. It is paying for the capacity to undertake them in the first place. Hell, Libya could turn out well in the end, who knows? But if this sort of intervention is a staple of your preferred foreign policy, please spare me any claptrap about your desire to make any meaningful cuts to the defense budget.

    It is indeed rather difficult to discern much difference between the neoconservatives and the liberal-interventionists. One is certainly more polite about going about its business, however, so you’ve got that going for you.

  307. 307
    terry chay says:

    @pattonbt: We don’t act on North Korea because China has a permanent veto seat on the UN Security Council. I think they’ve earned it.

  308. 308
  309. 309

    @terry chay:

    And, oddly enough, neither China nor the highly-critical-of-this-intervention Russia used their Security Council veto power on this matter. Makes ya wonder why those particular dogs weren’t barking.

  310. 310
    OzoneR says:

    @Canadian Observer:

    The vast majority of US oil imports pass through the Gulf of Aden and into the Red Sea, passing narrow straits near Somalia.

    no, the vast majority of US oil imports come across the Caribbean from Venezuela, but I guess that’s only something us imperialist slime know.

  311. 311
    Cris says:

    @OzoneR: I thought the vast majority of US oil imports come south across the 49th parallel.

  312. 312
    Ija says:

    @Elia:

    Oh, you once took a course, did you? I’m sorry, we didn’t realize that. Obviously you are now a renowned expert on the feelings of every North Korean ever and can make blanket statements about their level of happiness. Congratulations. I’m so glad for you. I’m sure the people of North Korea ar very grateful to you, too.

  313. 313
    Elia says:

    @Ija: A real pot, kettle thing going here. The point is at least I have some semblance of a foundation for my stance–which is that you can’t underestimate the power of propaganda in a closed state–whereas you, from what I can tell, are just going off of snark and straw.

  314. 314
    DPirate says:

    @joe from Lowell:
    @kay:

    Not quite true. I haven’t rejected it outright, but I am very unconvinced. “I don’t buy it” is something a shopper says, expecting the salesman to sell him harder. Repeating “teh children” ad nauseum is not much of an argument.

    Anyhow, it was a rhetorical question. I’m not so much asking “why Libya” as pointing out that if we were humanitarians we would be doing this all over the place. But hey, answer it if you want to. Pretending to have answers and refusing to share them is not going to convince anyone but Palin supporters.

    Yes, one single act of kindness in a lifetime of iniquity can still be considered humanitarian, yet we would do well to suspect the sex offender when he offers to babysit our kids. You can accept the government/apologist position at face value if you like, but I prefer to explore the idea that there are ulterior motives and humanitarianism is just the makeup applied to pretty up the corruption. Everything that I have learned about power tells me that it is inconsistent with altruism.

    Maybe you know better than that.

    @FlipYrWhig: Yeah, true, we do pick and choose. What is the criteria? And does any of that really apply to the richest and most powerful state? Obviously it does eventually, but we seem content to mix it up in certain places and against certain leaders, or to defend certain peoples.

    Bahrain and Yemen, for instance, should be much easier to interfere with than Libya if only due to size, esp considering the Persian Gulf is basically occupied by us already, and we have forces staged in Saudi Arabia and Iraq. So, what prevents us? You think it’s because they don’t have a dead live-blogger with a wife willing to cry on the radio?

    Libya is not the low-hanging fruit of conflicted regions. Hell, there is more horror in the Gaza strip that all of Libya, or there was before we stuck our noses in.

  315. 315
    DPirate says:

    @El Cid:
    @FlipYrWhig:

    Well, I think it is going to be disastrous in Libya, too. But, yes, I grant you that there may be perfectly good realpolitik that prevents us from “humanitarian intervention” in other places, and that I know nothing about it.

  316. 316
    David says:

    Maybe the most popular decisions of the world leaders today is either taking part in a military intervention or diffusing nationalistic ideas in order to become more popular among the voters.

  317. 317
    brantl says:

    It’s funny how much of Kaine’s argument is just “I don’t believe it!”, as though that has any lasting validity, coming from a guy that consistently says that and only that, as knee-jerk.

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