LIBYA LIBYA LIBYA

One of our more persistent and blockheaded trolls insists I talk about Libya. So here goes. The reports are still sketchy, and no one knows for sure what is going on. Hopefully, Gaddafi is gone. Hopefully, a new democratically elected regime made up of people who will faithfully represent the people of Libya will take charge. Hopefully, there will not be a spate of massacres of the loyalists. Hopefully it will all be done in short order. Hopefully it will not require a large UN/NATO (US) presence. I’ll wait and see.

Does that change my initial opposition to US involvement? Not one bit. You all can go on and on about good v. bad intervention, about how I am still scarred by Iraq, and whatever. I’m thinking with our economic woes and the history of blowback in the region, it’s not all crazy or radical for us to not get involved in things for a while and let things sort themselves out.

Does that change my opinion about the ludicrous notion that providing air cover, using smart bombs and predator drones, providing intelligence and technological assets, as well as a large CIA presence on the ground means we are not, as the administration asserted, engaged in hostilities? No. I still think that is laughable, perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, and will be used by future administrations for less “noble” pursuits. I can’t wait to hear the howls when President Palin insists we are not in hostilities with Iran, just bombing them and providing Israel with munitions, technology, and other assets.

Does it change my belief that Obama’s actions sidestepping Congress will be used again in the future? No.

Does it change my belief that intervention was sold with a flood of bullshit, with phrases like “Arab No-Fly Zone” being tossed around? No.

Does it change the fact that the pretext for this was to stop a massacre, but we were clearly gunning for regime change from day one? No.

Does it change my belief that every time we use our military, it will be pointed to as a reason for more and more military involvement in other places? No.

Does it change my belief that there appears to have been approximately ZERO planning for the aftermath? No.

Does it change my opinion that we know literally nothing about the rebels who appear to be winning? No.

Does it change my opinion that a lot of this is not about Gaddafi, but about a steady supply of the light sweet crude that Europe is so dependent on for their ultra-low sulfur diesel fleet? No.

So, no. Libya is not Iraq, or Afghanistan, or any other country. Libya is Libya, and while I hope Gaddafi is gone and everything works out, I still do not think we should have been involved. I don’t care if you disagree, but I think I have some good reasons why we should have stayed out of this. Reasons that go beyond “You just hate Obama” or “You are just an idiot and Obama is smarter than you” or “You can’t tell the difference between Iraq and Libya.” Hell, I’m not even getting in the way of the pom pom waving and USA foam fingers- “OBAMA GOT BIN LADEN AND NOW GADDAFI,” mainly because I can’t grok the dissonance between the following statements:

“We’re really not involved in the Libyan hostilities” and “OBAMA JUST PWNED GADDAFI USA! USA! USA!”

So there you have it.

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379 replies
  1. 1
    Svensker says:

    My only objection to this post is the fact that Derffred will feel empowered.

    Otherwise, what you said.

  2. 2
    WarMunchkin says:

    Excellent news for John McCain.

  3. 3
    mirele says:

    Thanks for this eloquent rundown of the pitfalls of involving ourselves in Other People’s Business. These interventions are killing the USA as we know it.

  4. 4
    Chris A says:

    Regardless, here’s something I think everyone can be proud of. The US took out a dictator who was opposing his people for over 42 years with zero casualties in a matter of months.

    Compare that with Bush and Iraq, which took billions of dollars, hundreds of thousands of lives, and 10 years.

  5. 5
    long ago says:

    if things continue to work out (i.e. no massacres and the emergence of a better-than-average regime), then I will be very happy for the Libyan people, and very happy for Obama, since it will give him another success going into the elections, and we need him to get re-elected.

    However. I agree that it was a mistake to go in, and I agree that the US should get out of the business of intervening in other countries like this.

    Our imperial over-reach throughout the world is simply crazy. I would like to see our defense forces restricted to the job of, you know, defending our territory from foreign armies.

  6. 6
    catclub says:

    I heard one bit of a PBS show on the Pentagon papers. A lawyer for Ellsberg said that they should NOT get middle aged men on the jury, because those men would be outraged by the fact that Ellsberg made a principled decision and stuck with it in spite the consequences. He did not let his attachment to the organization, his career, or his family, dissuade him. The middle aged men who may have let those factors dissuade them from principled decisions would not be nice to him on a jury. Cole’s post sounds a bit like Elsberg’s principles.

  7. 7
    sb says:

    Okay, I’m curious.

    Who is more persistent and blockheaded than the other trolls I read in these here parts? I mean, we’re talking about a pretty big group.

  8. 8
    Baud says:

    So, no. Libya is not Iraq, or Afghanistan, or any other country.

    When the U.S. first got involved, some (and not necessarily you) said that Libya would be just like Iraq or Afghanistan. I think a good bit of the jubilation you are seeing is that fact that (at present) it is looking like that will not be the case.

  9. 9
    catclub says:

    @Chris A: “and 10 years.”

    gross exaggeration, only 8+ 1/2 and counting.

  10. 10
    Holden Pattern says:

    @Chris A:

    Regardless, here’s something I think everyone can be proud of. The US took out a dictator who was opposing his people for over 42 years with zero casualties in a matter of months.

    Yes, our unlawful, deceptively packaged, bad-precedent military intervention in the domestic politics of another country was fairly well managed.

    Also, pretty sure you don’t mean “zero casualties”. You probably mean “zero American casualties”. But that’s a telling omission.

  11. 11
    The Dangerman says:

    Lots of arguments, about a mile wide, yet an inch deep. At the end of the Day, I’m glad we have the Grown Ups in charge to go just a wee bit deeper; Libya didn’t (more correctly, has not yet and hopefully will never) turn into Rwanda or Darfur…

    …thusly, so far, so good. We can celebrate the trees (incremental victories like Mad Moammar leaving the stage) while, hopefully, not losing sight of the forest.

  12. 12
    danimal says:

    @Svensker: Hopefully this post will give derf brain spasms. Though his posts to date indicate he already suffers from them.

    I’ve stayed away from opining about Libya because the ends (Gaddafi Gone!) don’t quite justify the means (feeding more BS to the Military/Industrial machine). I’m glad it’s turning out well so far, but I can’t quite disagree with Cole’s points. It’s a complex issue, and I expect we will learn a lot more about this intervention in the coming days.

    It looks like Obama was able to thread a needle, but I don’t trust President Perry with the same tools that Obama has used.

  13. 13
    DBrown says:

    @Chris A: But you miss the real point that Cole was making – this example will be used to kill tens, even hundreds of thousands of brown/black people in the future that live under scum who control oil. Oil will be too expensive to care about brown/black lives with peak oil here (only tar sands and very, very deep water oil has saved our ass’s so far.) Of course, we will need more drones and target more people in countries because it worked so well. Getting six million people out from under that guy’s foot is nice but look at Iraq and the millions of lives that were ruined and many hundreds of thousands murdered by cheney-bush et-al, and soon we will all be roped into worse thanks to this.

  14. 14
    aisce says:

    1. The intervention only cost slightly more than $1B, and required no funding resolution.

    2. There will be no President Palin.

    3. Of course the plan was regime change. What, we stop the onslaught in Benghazi and then bail? Let Gaddafi keep the rest of the country and make him pinky-swear not to do anything else to his people ever again?

    4.

    Does it change my belief that there appears to have been approximately ZERO planning for the aftermath?

    False.

    5.

    “You are just an idiot and Obama is smarter than you”

    Don’t take it personally, this is true for 99% of the country.

  15. 15
    Derf says:

    This pathetic post from Colonel Wrong Way Cole is almost as bad as McCain and Graham trying to blame Obama for this somehow and take some credit for themselves.

    I sure get a kick out of being called a ‘troll’ while mouth breathers who fap over Greenwald and Hamsher are considered serious posters. It’s like upside down world around here….lol!

  16. 16
    catclub says:

    Given that Obama has now outlasted Osama Bin Laden and Khaddafy.
    I am guessing that Castro is not going to outlast him either.

    Rush Limbaugh would be the largest ( pun intended) feather in his cap.

  17. 17
    Libby says:

    I’d say that sums it up nicely Mr. Cole. I’ve also been thinking since last night the cheering for “Obama got another tyrant” was kind of weird considering theoretically, we’re not supposed to be really involved in the fight.

  18. 18
    Davis X. Machina says:

    Resolved: That this House believes a Wesphalian nation-state-based system is a divinely-inspired and permanent feature of the world, and nothing that happens within its borders is of any interest to anyone outside them.

  19. 19
    freelancer says:

    Be satisfied, m_c.

  20. 20
    Rommie says:

    There’s an element of covering your ears and singing LALALALALACANTHEARYOULALALALALA to your post JC.

    At least you are consistent. Whether it’s a virtue or a relic from your encounter with the Wingularity is for others to decide.

    You’d be telling people to man/woman up and admit that GOP Mr. X got it right if the situation were reversed. I just wanted to point that out since you’ve done that on more than one occasion.

  21. 21
    Shawn in ShowMe says:

    Thanks for weighing in JC but I’m still not clear on one point: are you against all foreign military interventions and if not, what would be a historical example of a good foreign military intervention?

  22. 22
    Tim I says:

    John, I admire your ability to admit when you are wrong.

  23. 23
    Baud says:

    @DBrown: Ugh! I really hate slippery slope arguments in evaluating political decisionmaking – every decision of any consequence has some type of slippery slope associated with it. The fact is that Libya will be a blip on the historical radar of U.S. interventions around the globe.

  24. 24
    MikeJ says:

    Does it change my belief that every time we use our military, it will be pointed to as a reason for more and more military involvement in other places? No.

    This is the teabagger argument against the ACA.

    As far as waiting goes, we did wait. Almost too long. This wasn’t a US project, we didn’t start the clock ticking. It’s not as if there would have been no war without US intervention. The war had already started, and at that point you could be on the side of the Libyan people or you could be on the side of Gaddafi. Doing nothing meant standing by and watching a slaughter. Waiting a year or two to see what the situation was like then was not one of the options.

  25. 25
    dead existentialist says:

    Geez, Cole, lighten up. This is supposed to be a happy occasion.

    http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jKGjOE_7bYI

  26. 26
    DS says:

    I love how, just as with Iraq, the goalposts for this ridiculous adventure just continued to move. First, it was the “no-fly zone” and everyone who disagreed with it hated the Libyan people. Now, everything is about regime change. Um, I’m sorry, but the justification for intervention was not regime change; it was to enforce the no-fly zone. I’m not sure why the original supporters can’t just come out and say that this is what they wanted all along and that the “no-fly zone” was simply an excuse to force regime change in a foreign country.

  27. 27
    Tractarian says:

    Does it change the fact that the pretext for this was to stop a massacre, but we were clearly gunning for regime change from day one? No.

    Jeez.

    The NATO mission was to stop the assault of Benghazi and protect civilians.

    The long-standing goal of U.S. policy is to get rid of Qaddafi.

    Are these two things really that hard to comprehend together?

  28. 28
    Derf says:

    @Svensker: “Empowered”? By Baboon juice?……..if you say so.

    Now if you will excuse me I have some things to do in the real world. However, I will walk around with my head so much higher today because I was made to feel ’empowered’ by some obscure backwater swap blog on the intertubes.

    Sigh…….

  29. 29
    Nom de Plume says:

    John, this is a perfectly reasonable view. It is similar to my own views on Iraq: nothing can ever change my opinion that it was a war of choice based on lies. Why? Because you simply cannot retroactively make lies truth, that’s why. This does not mean that there is no outcome in Iraq that would make me happy. Quite the contrary. It is quite possible to oppose a war and still hope for a positive outcome. I’m not sure why so many people struggle with this idea.

  30. 30
    dpCap says:

    Wait, I’m not clear on something here. Does this mean Derf likes random acts of violence perpetrated by a superpower?

    I thought that wasn’t cool, even among the Tea Party crowd these days?

  31. 31
    aisce says:

    @ catclub

    I am guessing that Castro is not going to outlast him either.

    this is some hardcore crazy obot shit. how obama will be the hero when fidel finally dies of cancer or some shit? he was born in the 1930s. he overthrew battista before obama was even born.

    what possible connection is there between the president and the castro brothers other than they all exist as human beings and our country is next to theirs?

  32. 32
    soonergrunt says:

    I didn’t think we should do Libya for the same reasons that we shouldn’t have done Iraq.
    1–There was nothing in either place that was worth the life of a single American Soldier.
    2–Stability in either country would be better served by the locals forcing the dictator out than it would be served by the US removing him, thereby insulating the population from responsibility for their own future.
    3–The oil that either country had would flow either way because it’s the only resource they have, and you can’t build roads, banks, or houses with oil.
    4–Another operation in the region involving US forces in any numbers just plays into the hands of people we don’t want to strengthen.
    5–lastly, and most importantly, another operation in the region would lead inevitably to another flurry of non-factual, uneducated, illogical nonsense from matoko-fuckwit/hermionie-had-a-couple-of-“intro to…”-classes-at-community-college/off-her-meds or whatever the hell she’s calling herself these days.

  33. 33
    The Dangerman says:

    @DS:

    I’m not sure why the original supporters can’t just come out and say that this is what they wanted all along and that the “no-fly zone” was simply an excuse to force regime change in a foreign country.

    Perhaps we should ask the 200+ Lockerbie Families their opinion on forced regime change?

  34. 34
    Comrade Dread says:

    I agree with you 100%, Mr. Cole.

    This will come back to haunt us later.

  35. 35
    patrick II says:

    I don’t agree that avoiding a massacre was just a pretext. Was it also a pretext? yes. I agree with everything else you have written there.

  36. 36
    ant says:

    @Derf:

    DERP DERP DERP DERP DERP

    lol

  37. 37
    Derf says:

    Colonel Cole. Maybe you and Kucinich should get together. Both seem to have equal views. Kucinich is probably the least accomplished person in Congress. But at least he is in congress so…..well I guess only partly the same on that one.
    http://obamadiary.files.wordpr.....#038;h=344

    as opposed to
    http://cache.daylife.com/image.....a/610x.jpg

  38. 38

    Mighty fine blast of hot air.

  39. 39
    Emma says:

    @Comrade Dread: Everything a human being or a nation does comes back to haunt them. We have been faffing around in the Middle East since forever. Considering some of the other idiotic stunts we have pulled there, this might be the least of all evils.

  40. 40
    John PM says:

    John,

    So you are saying that just because things (appear to have) worked out this time, our involvement in Libya may have set a bad precedent that could be abused by future presidents? That is like saying that just because nobody was injured in one instance doesn’t mean that you should drive your car on the sidewalk in the future (i.e., just because no one was injured doesn’t mean that you weren’t negligent). Why are you rejecting the “ends justify the means” chest-thumping of the USA First cheerleaders?

  41. 41
    catclub says:

    @aisce: “how obama will be the hero when fidel finally dies of cancer or some shit?”

    The same way R. Reagan was given credit when the Soviet union died of cancer. I was pointing out that Obama is really lucky, which is not a bad thing to be.

    GW Bush was really unlucky. Its started with submarine surfacing and killing 9 or 10 Japanese fisherman. There were VIP’s on board and the captain was showboating for them.
    Then a US P3 was captured by the Chinese. THEN came 911.
    Unlucky fucking Jonah.

  42. 42
    The Dangerman says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    This will come back to haunt us later.

    Maybe, maybe not; this inch deep analysis and couple bucks (more at Starbucks) will get you a cup of coffee. Let’s elect President Palin and have her launch on Iran before we blame Obama for starting WWIII.

    Edit: Speaking of WW’s and “it isn’t any of our business”, how did that work out in the 1930’s in Europe and Asia?

  43. 43
    jon says:

    Of course it was about the oil, will continue to be about the oil, will require our huge Navy to be there just as it is everywhere else, and will not change the fact that the Arab culture is pretty much antithetical to our stated values unrelated to crony capitalism. Again we’ll be labeled as winning the war and losing the peace. Again the neocons and hawks will say this could easily be repeated in Syria and Iran and even Pakistan if they’re using the stronger stuff after completely depleting their usual stores over the past decade.

    That fucker, like Saddam Hussein and many others, gave us plenty of reasons to hate his ass and want his rule to end. The massacre that could have happened was real, but it wasn’t something that could have been avoided with a humanitarian pullout under the watch of the US and allied navies. It was regime change from the get-go, and I’m not bothered that much.

    As for the precedent it sets, it’s really not new. Seeing it done competently is refreshing and frightening at once, but it’s not new. The desperate need to keep such power away from morons is always going to be important, and it’s also why it shouldn’t be consolidated in such a way. The cliches are always available regarding power and how things aren’t going to change. Either the genie needs to return to the bottle, the horse is out of the barn, the bell needs to be unrung, or whatever it is. But I can’t figure out any way that can be done without the next available idiot burning that barn, smashing that bottle, or filling that bell with either gunpowder or some ice and a few cases of Lone Star in cans.

    But what the hell: Go British (Petroleum)! Deutschland Uber Afrika, Part Zwei! Viva La France, but stay out of Algeria still! and of course USA! USA! USA!

  44. 44
    wrb says:

    I didn’t favor this and fear it will haunt us later but there is a positive possibility:

    maybe the success of restraint will be the lesson.

  45. 45
    Derf says:

    Politics Daily (August 2009): Sen. John McCain, visiting Libya this past week, praised Muammar Gaddafi for his peacemaking efforts in Africa. In addition, McCain called for the U.S. Congress to expand ties with Gaddafi’s government, according to Libya’s state news agency. McCain had a face-to-face meeting with Gaddafi, which he detailed on his Twitter page with the following message:

    “Late evening with Col. Qadhafi at his “ranch” in Libya – interesting meeting with an interesting man.”

    I’m sure Colonel wrong way Cole fully approved. Would not be surprised to find out Cole vote for McCain/Palin. Given his razor sharp instincts on such things.

  46. 46
    GregB says:

    But, what about SHARIA!

    Respectfully submitted,

    -Pam Gellar

  47. 47
    Tractarian says:

    Here’s a question for John and others (like Andrew Sullivan) who think this whole thing has been a “clusterfuck” and Iraq Part Deux:

    If Obama had gotten Congressional approval for this operation, would you still have objected to it?

    To my mind, the failure to get (or even seek) Congressional approval is the one truly foolish step Obama has taken here. Horrible optics and it led to the “hostilities” dodge. So let’s narrow down what your objections are and why.

    Because, I’m sorry to say, but 95% of this country (including 90% of Democrats) would have said OK to getting rid of Qaddafi if it cost no American casualties and only about $1B (i.e., a couple of weeks’ worth of air conditioning in Baghdad).

  48. 48
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    Nice rant, John.

    Somewhat surprised you resisted the urge for as long as you did.

    Nuance is lost on some of our more persistent trolls.

  49. 49
    Bruce S says:

    This turned out to have been good policy. More often than not, good policy is determined by how it turns out. The bin Laden kill could have become a minor disaster. No assurances. And the fact of Orwellian language to rationalize a venture into “hostilities” disappoints but hardly surprises. What does appear indisputable is that Obama calibrates his decisions carefully, which improves his odds. I don’t know to what degree the NATO intervention made this apparent success possible, but if it was decisive it was the right thing to do. I thought the Iraq war was, almost literally, insane from Day One. The deceit and stupidity was apparent if you went even a layer beyond what Cheney, et. al. wanted people to believe. And even on its face it seemed like supreme idiocy. This was a pragmatic call in support of an uprising that I couldn’t in good conscience oppose based on what I saw or could know. More a question of “Do they know what they’re doing, within reason?” Seems like they did.

    As an aside, can you imagine how the Right would be painting Obama if he pulled off one of those “Heroic” invasions of some backwater like Grenada or the Falkland islands, in the manner of their icons Reagan and Thatcher. Obama has proven himself a tough leader internationally, and our domestic Crazies can’t stand it. He’s humiliated them. Even the odious-but-not-totally-insane duo John McCain and Lindsay Graham felt impelled to attack Obama in their statement on the demise of Ghadaffi’s regime. The GOP Crazy demands that Obama be demonized, at any cost.

  50. 50
    catclub says:

    The post title references both USA! USA! USA! and Tora, Tora, Tora. But if it also needs a song title, how about Sing, Sing, Sing?

  51. 51
    Social outcast says:

    “I was pointing out that Obama is really lucky, which is not a bad thing to be.”

    Tell that to the millions of unemployed people in America. When does all this luck kick in for his economic policies? Because rebels winning in Libya isn’t going to help him next fall.

  52. 52
    Rorgg says:

    I was veeeeery cautiously optimistic on this from the start, and felt that all those reasons you cited were valid, but were very marginally overbalanced by “yes, but then Gadaffi won’t be fucking shooting people in the head anymore if this works, and it’s mostly the Lybians themselves that want to do this, so if we can do it more or less like they’re claiming… well… go ahead, I’ll cross my fingers.”

    And this has been more or less that best-case scenario to a tee, so… hey, good call. So it seems. I’ll keep crossing my fingers and really hope the longterm costs of this turn out to be on the short side.

  53. 53
    The Dangerman says:

    @Tractarian:

    To my mind, the failure to get (or even seek) Congressional approval is the one truly foolish step Obama has taken here.

    Partial agreement; nonetheless, Obama wouldn’t have received Congressional approval (shit, the HoR went through a practical war getting the Debt Limit deal) and, in the end, he was wise to avoid the domestic fight even with some limited subterfuge.

  54. 54
    gogol's wife says:

    @Bruce S:

    Thank you for this thoughtful comment. They’re in short supply, it seems.

  55. 55
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @soonergrunt:

    There was nothing in either place that was worth the life of a single American Soldier.

    On the contrary, our addiction to petroleum means that we’re more than happy to exchange the lives of American soldiers for another fix. Especially if they’re not our sons or daughters, but the sons and daughters of “the help”.

    There was a time when the elite took their chances on the front along with everyone else. Not any more. That’s a job for “the help.”

  56. 56
    catclub says:

    @Tractarian: Too bad Bush did not offer $300B to get rid of Saddam with no US casualties.
    It would have been a bargain.

  57. 57
    hueyplong says:

    I was going to suggest ways in which Mr. Cole’s post could have been more petulant, but it turns out the only people with the imagination to do so were McCain and Graham.

    Well played, guys, you daily affirm the wisdom of supporting whateverthehell Democrat is willing to run for public office.

  58. 58
    chopper says:

    @jon:

    Of course it was about the oil

    for europe it was. we only get about 0.5% of our oil imports from libya, so not for us. of course, stability in europe (which includes energy) is in our best interests.

  59. 59
    El Tiburon says:

    Hopefully, a new democratically elected regime made up of people who will faithfully represent the people of Libya will take charge. Hopefully, there will not be a spate of massacres of the loyalists. Hopefully it will all be done in short order. Hopefully it will not require a large UN/NATO (US) presence. I’ll wait and see.

    You. Oh. You. You so funny.

  60. 60
    The Dangerman says:

    @hueyplong:

    …but it turns out the only people with the imagination to do so were McCain and Graham.

    A repeat from an earlier thread, but what the hell happened to politics ending at the waters edge?

  61. 61
    MikeBoyScout says:

    I agree with John.

    And before we get to crazy celebrating our success in Libya,I seem to recall spectacular victories overthrowing other tyranical regimes not all that long ago.

    How’s that going?

  62. 62
    Marc says:

    A lot of conservatives had their worldview shaped by Vietnam; everything had to be processed through a stab-in-the-back filter.

    I’m afraid that I see liberals now doing precisely the same thing with Iraq. Bush pushed through an unilateral invasion of Iraq on a flimsy pretext for pretty obvious geopolitical reasons.

    And yet the Clinton and Obama interventions had a different profile. I see the (complete bullshit) about this being about oil, for example, from the usual suspects. Just like Bosnia and Somalia, right?

    Some things (like Iraq) really were unjustified. Others (like Bosnia, and Libya) really were multilateral, and really had a humanitarian motive.

    The thing I dislike the most about the attitude that Cole is expressing is the contempt that it exhibits for our European allies. It’s as if the wishes of France and Italy and England had nothing to do with a NATO intervention; they’re simply US puppets without independent views. And no one could be honestly motivated for humanitarian reasons. The cynics are always right, no one has good intentions, and everything will be used in the worst possible way.

    With friends like that, who needs enemies?

  63. 63
    Jinchi says:

    @aisce:

    4. Does it change my belief that there appears to have been approximately ZERO planning for the aftermath? False.

    …. What, No link? No argument? Just “False”. I’d be really interested in hearing what the post Khadaffi plan is.

  64. 64
    Baud says:

    @The Dangerman: IOKIYAR. SATSQ.

  65. 65
    hueyplong says:

    “what the hell happened to politics ending at the waters edge?”

    They lost an election. That kind of outrage generates the kind of national emergency that invalidates all rules.

  66. 66
    Comrade Dread says:

    @The Dangerman: It would have worked out just fine if we had taken that advice back in WWI.

  67. 67
    catclub says:

    @Social outcast: “When does all this luck kick in for his economic policies?”

    It is almost three years into his term and a majority of the population STILL blame Bush for the economy. I call that incredibly good luck. Compare with GHW Bush or Jimmy Carter
    or Lyndon Johnson.

  68. 68
    TheF79 says:

    I’m going to hunch that the weight the administration placed on our international relations (the UN, NATO and european allies) is being vastly underestimated here and in other threads.

  69. 69
    gogol's wife says:

    @Jinchi:

    You can start with today’s New York Times. I’m sure there are about a thousand other sources on this that are easily found for anyone who’s interested.

  70. 70
    Josie says:

    If you think that the precedent of President Obama abstaining from military involvement in the Middle East will influence a President Palin or Perry to do likewise, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

  71. 71

    […] asks if the fall of Gaddafi means he should change his initial opposition to the war: Does that change […]

  72. 72
    Suffern ACE says:

    @Marc: Neither Sarkozy, Cameron nor Berlusconi are known for their humanitarian impulses. They may have their own interests and own electoral prospects to shore up, but just because the French have a desire to maintain the prestense that they are good for Africa doesn’t mean that they are or that we have to go out of our way to believe them.

  73. 73
    aisce says:

    @ jinchi

    oh for heaven’s sake. the tnc has been running a shadow government out of benghazi and dubai for the last six months. they have already gained international recognition and built foreign relationships. they wrote a preliminary constitution.

    this isn’t at all like iraq.

  74. 74
    chopper says:

    @Emma:

    of course. and if the western world had sat back and done nothing while gaddhafi went apeshit on the uprising, it would have come back to haunt us in a different way.

    most all foreign policy in the MENA region comes back to haunt you later. whether it’s for good or evil or somewhere in between.

  75. 75
    Emerald says:

    Hmmm: “the pretext of this was to stop a massacre.”

    The pretext?

    Um, that “pretext” was about thousands of actual living, breathing human beings, including women and children, whom Gadaffi swore he was going to slaughter.

    Hillary Clinton, Susan Rice and Samantha Power convinced Obama to act. Hillary watched while her husband did nothing in Rwanda (and later said it was his worst mistake). Power is an expert on genocide. Rice, apparently, has a conscience.

    The thousands we saved are not a “pretext.” They were, and because of us, still are, human beings.

  76. 76
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    I’m way too much of a liberal to ever think that we should not be willing to do these kinds of things. But I do think that we are required to go through the UN. If we had a Congress that did its job, it would have happened there as well, but we don’t. Is it a perfect system? No. But neither is doing nothing in all cases. You can’t apply one rule to cover all cases. Just like you cannot apply “Do not kill” in all cases.

  77. 77
    Judas Escargot says:

    I supported this early on, as some may recall.

    That said, I agree that it’s ludicrous to claim that the US was not involved in hostilities in Libya: War-by-remote-control is still war, and still kills. I do hope this can serve as a template for how to handle Libya-like situations in the future, though (just was GWB’s bungling of Iraq should serve as a template for how not to oust a dictator).

    Also… we currently have no idea whatsoever what new Libya will emerge from all this once it’s all over. It’s way too soon for anyone to start crowing about how awesome and true their opinions were six months ago.

  78. 78
    Zifnab says:

    @Josie:

    If you think that the precedent of President Obama abstaining from military involvement in the Middle East will influence a President Palin or Perry to do likewise, I have a bridge I’d like to sell you.

    Wait, when did Obama start abstaining from military involvement in the Middle East?

    We’re still in Iraq. We’re still in Afghanistan. We’ve been running bombers over Libya for months. We’ve got special forces in Qatar. We’ve got who knows what kind of black-ops work going down in Iran. We’ve got diplomats going back-and-forth with Syria, but I’ll be shocked if military intelligence isn’t taking a hand there too.

    What abstention are you talking about?

  79. 79
    Danny says:

    @John Cole

    If you’re forced to resort to nutpicking and a laundry list of various complaints to justify your position, then you haven’t been doing your homework. Many reasonable posters have asked you to stake out an actual position on foreign policy and foreign interventions. Any war can be nit-picked in a million ways. But either you’re a down the line non-interventionist and then one has an obligation to clearly account for that, or else one has an obligation to outline some rules of thumb for when intervention is warranted.

    I’m thinking with our economic woes

    “We are broke”? This war costs a fraction of Iraqi Freedom, which you supported. Will you support the next Iraqi Freedom if we ever get our fiscal house in order? Would be nice to know…

    and the history of blowback in the region

    You supported Iraqi Freedom, and there was just as good a case about blowback there. In this case we have no boots on the ground and we’re supporting a popular rebellion. How is this not about being scarred by Iraq and switching sides, but continuing taking more stupid stances based on your gut feeling?

    it’s not all crazy or radical for us to not get involved in things for a while and let things sort themselves out.

    “For awhile”? For how long awhile? Isn’t it better we start making good decisions on the merits right now instead, and having a sane foreign policy where we intervene where it’s actually merited to do so and in partnership with the global community? Otherwise the crowd that just like to break stuff will be right back in the drivers seat the moment you forget about Iraq.

    Does that change my opinion about the ludicrous notion that providing air cover, using smart bombs and predator drones, providing intelligence and technological assets, as well as a large CIA presence on the ground means we are not, as the administration asserted, engaged in hostilities? No.

    Legally, within the context of the war powers act. Anyone who in the future wants to claim precedent will have to constrain their actions to what we’ve done post the first 30 days.

    I could go on and on picking apart the speciousness, sentence by sentence, but the main problem with your position is that you have none. There are no rule of thumbs to determine what ventures to support or not. You just dont feel like doing Libya, not after Afghanistan and Iraq. Fine, I get that you and many others feel that way, but it’s a fucking irresponsible and childish way to determine whether you will support a war or not. IOW, it’s 100% in line with your approach when you decided whether or not to support Iraqi Freedom. Maybe you should get out of the FP pundit business?

  80. 80
    OzoneR says:

    There’s a thin line between “This is stupid, hope it works out” and “this is stupid, I’m going to keep harping on how stupid this is and blow up menial little things to prove its stupid, so my belief is vindicated”

    You’ve always been more of the former, what always bothers me is the latter, from the PUMAs through HCR through Libya, everything is some don’t even want to consider the possibility of what they disagreed with working. They have to consistently piss on it and harp on whatever remotely negative press the thing gets just to prove their cynicism and negativity correct. It’s disgusting.

    Libya worked, it turned out to be a good idea? Would not doing what we did be a bad idea? who knows. I don’t particularly like the idea of doing what we did because it keeps alive the “Americans need to interfere in other people’s problems” idea, and we don’t.

    And we still shouldn’t.

  81. 81
    Derf says:

    @GregB: Ha!

    Wonder what rock that twat is hiding under today.

  82. 82
    marv says:

    @Bruce S:

    Thank you for excellent, thoughtful post.

  83. 83
    The Dangerman says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    It would have worked out just fine if we had taken that advice back in WWI.

    I don’t know how isolationism would have benefited WWI*; I do know how isolationism impacted WWII.

    As for this being about Oil, I’ll defer to Juan Cole: “daft”, I believe, was his choice of words.

    *all edification welcomed

  84. 84
    Bruce S says:

    “Does this mean Derf likes random acts of violence perpetrated by a superpower?”

    There is an essential debate over legitimacy and very real and reasonable objections to this kind of intervention – I’m generally reluctant to support such ventures – but to call this military support of a mass uprising against an obviously rotten regime “random acts of violence” undermines any argument for opposition. Also, while a lot of BS gets thrown into the argument for political reasons, this was hardly “a war based on lies” as some have claimed. In Iraq any reasonable person could know that the case for war was being ginned up and was mostly bullshit. The self-induced gullibility factor on the part of our “serious” people was appalling. In the case of Libya there was an uprising on the ground and the issue was whether air cover and, no doubt, some additional covert assistance would give them a significant assist. Of course oil plays into everything related to the Middle East – except when it doesn’t, “thanks” to AIPAC, et. al. But the fact of an uprising against Ghadaffi was indisputable and that fact drove the decision to intervene. Without it, there would have been no intervention. There was no “big lie” as there was in Iraq. The war in Iraq was posed as a national security issue, which was preposterous but widely accepted – even promoted -among our political “intelligentsia,” despite the “LOL!” factor. Libya was posed as a support operation in the context of the “Arab Spring.” Shouting “Oil” – although, of course, Ghadaffi has always been more than happy to sell his oil – doesn’t change the context of what’s happened in North Africa over the past two years in terms of regime instability, nor can it change the fact that a group of rebels took on their dictator. That doesn’t make everything simple and transparent, but it gives the lie to some of the more hysterical frames for opposition to intervention.

  85. 85
    FlipYrWhig says:

    This post is a bit like one of Jonah Goldberg’s “Even though nothing I said was correct, still, it is central to my point” pieces.

  86. 86
    Jinchi says:

    @gogol’s wife:

    You can start with today’s New York Times.

    So again, no actual argument. Just, “Go read the Times”.

    Here are the NYT Headlines right now:

    Loyalist Holdouts Fight Rebels in Tripoli
    Qaddafi at Large as Forces Fight to Control Compound
    New Fighting Tempers Rebel Euphoria From Rush Into Capital
    Fresh fighting erupted in Tripoli on Monday
    Mystery of Qaddafi’s Whereabouts Looms Large in Endgame

    Sorry, but I’m still missing the evidence that we’ve made any long term plans for the aftermath.

  87. 87
    Samara Morgan says:

    soooo…..what do you think about waging peace as US policy, Cole?
    since we can’t afford to wage war anymore.
    Libya was cost-viable. Obama saw an opportunity to make muslim friends for a small expense.
    and we need muslim friends pretty badly right now.

    Press TV: You’ve touched upon this a bit, but I’d like you to expand on this – Obama has never really stood by the reasons the US went to war against Iraq – Why is he so motivated to stay in Iraq now?
    __
    Michael Maloof: I think it’s because of the changing circumstances; and you’re only talking 10,000 troops; it’s supposed to be a token amount, or they might agree to the extension of the 40,000 that are there.
    __
    But it’s not going to really matter in terms of what effectiveness they can accomplish. I think the US is also under increasing pressure from the Saudis. It’s my understanding that the Saudis have decided to go on their own – they no longer trust the US – to basically create their own army; a rapid reaction force if you will and they’re very much concerned about the plight of the Sunnis in Iraq.
    __
    And so they’re going to put pressure on the US to at least maintain some kind of presence there in order to in effect try to disrupt the forward motion of Iranian influence in what is an Arab world in that region and also because of the concern the Saudis have over the plight of the Sunnis there.
    __
    So I think the US has seen, and everything in the Middle East has shown, the ineffectiveness of US policy. And I think they’re groping and grasping at straws.
    __
    Even in terms of Syria they just don’t have the influence they once had and that’s bothering policy makers a great deal in terms of trying to maintain that influence in the Middle East and try to cope with probable pressure from the Saudis to try to restrict Iranian influence from the Arab world.

    you think its gunna be tough for O to get relected with 9.5 % unemployment?
    try adding in 10$ gallon gasoline.

  88. 88
    Tractarian says:

    @Zifnab:

    What abstention are you talking about?

    Hold on now, you completely misread Josie.

    The point is, many people such as Our Esteemed Bloghost appear to think that part of the reason why Libya is such a “clusterfuck” is because it will set a bad precedent for future presidents.

    Josie was simply showing how ludicrous it is to think that Obama’s actions or non-actions today will have any bearing on President Perry’s decisions in 2014.

  89. 89
    Josie says:

    @Zifnab: The one that John Cole wishes he had done.

  90. 90
    Mike Goetz says:

    The President should hobble himself and refrain from using the tools at his disposal, because someone dumber and less deft might use them in a less elegant way in the future.

    It’s Harrison Bergeron’s world now, and we’re just living in it.

  91. 91
    FlipYrWhig says:

    @Zifnab:

    What abstention are you talking about?

    Josie’s point was that _if_ Obama _had_ done as John and others wanted and “abstained” from involvement, that wouldn’t have set a precedent that bound future presidents anyway… thus invalidating the complaint that Obama’s getting involved sets a worrisome precedent. Whatever Obama did in this case had no bearing on what some future president would feel comfortable doing.

  92. 92
    gex says:

    @chopper: That seems like a silly statement to me. Just because we don’t import from Libya doesn’t mean the flow of Libyan oil isn’t in our interest. If Europe can no longer buy from Libya, they’ll have to buy from one of our suppliers probably. Oil is oil. The total number of barrels available on market affects all purchasers.

    ETA: This is not to say I’m saying Libya was or wasn’t about oil for us.

  93. 93
    Monkey Business says:

    I’m not a huge fan of American military adventurism abroad. However, if we’re going to militarily adventure, this is how you do it.

    The United States joined an international coalition, not as a leader but as a partner, to remove a despot who was killing his own citizens and provide support to rebels on the ground.

    This was essentially the opposite of Iraq. A coalition of countries came together to support a homegrown insurgency to remove a despot without putting significant boots on the ground. The US and its allies will provide indirect support to the fledgling Libyan democracy to ensure a peaceful transition.

    If the Bush Doctrine was acting unilaterally to secure American interests abroad regardless of international opinion or sovereignty, then the Obama Doctrine is acting as part of a coalition to provide support to those countries attempting to establish democracies and overthrow their despotic rulers.

  94. 94
    boss bitch says:

    didn’t favor this and fear it will haunt us later

    Like Rwanda?

    Doing nothing also has its consequences.

    Does it change my belief that every time we use our military, it will be pointed to as a reason for more and more military involvement in other places?

    This is silly. If a president is hell bent on war or military intervention, they don’t need a previous case to make their point. They’ll just do it.

  95. 95
    Josie says:

    @Tractarian: Thanks. You explained it better than I did.

  96. 96
    Derf says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Except for the fact Cole is a nobody…that is. But then again I don’t know or care who Jonah Goldberg is either.

  97. 97
    Joe Bauers says:

    Friday night I was at a rest stop in Michigan where there were no outside lights on (pitch black, dangerous), then when I got to my destination found that what used to be a paved road was now gravel. The reason for both things was the same – no money. The local road in Indiana I have to drive on to get anywhere was just repaved this year, but it was already like a bombed airstrip the first time I saw it in 2008. The school district next town over is laying off teachers. My local library is now closed one day a week. My kid isn’t going to be able to go to college without taking on tens of thousands of dollars in student loan debt. I’m never going to be able to retire. No money, no money, no money.

    So I’m not going to support any military action, anywhere, unless it’s in response to something like Pearl Harbor. Short of that, everybody is just going to have to sort it out for themselves for a while. Pax Americana has nearly bankrupted us, and it’s going to end soon whether we want it to or not. The only question is whether we will be 80% or 100% bankrupt when it does. I vote for 80.

  98. 98
    Samara Morgan says:

    And its hard for the Iraqis too.
    The Iraqis HAVE to kick America out, because they are going to form an alliance with Iran.
    Qom and Karbala will become one in the New Virtual Shi’ia Caliphate.
    Muqtada has been studying in Iran for the last three years, exactly like Sayyid Ali al Sistani did before he became the Supreme Ayatollah of all the Shi’ia.
    And Sistani is 86.

  99. 99
    El Cid says:

    I think it’s perfectly fine for people to feel free — particularly in blog comment areas — to have complex views on a matter like this.

    Some of my shorter term worries appear (thankfully) to have not been realized, but many of the questions I had were just never addressed in the debates I saw, which overwhelmingly reduced to ‘do you support US-UK-Fr military intervention or not.’

    You people are not making the policy decisions. This is a blog comments section. You don’t actually face the choice of intervening or not. Really. You don’t. No one is asking you to decide. No one would have chosen to or chosen not to militarily intervene if you agreed or disagreed.

    Yes, I have particular opinions, analysis, or questions regarding all the points John made above, but I always notice a general tendency on blogs to move instantly toward a ‘yes’ or ‘no’ conclusion or ‘moral’ or ‘imperialist’ stance on a foreign policy move.

    And there’s nothing wrong with that, if someone really believes they’ve settled the issue well enough for himself or herself. Neither is anything wrong with discussing a variety of views, some of which one feels is more strongly established, and others which he or she feels is either not well established, or addressed by unclear arguments, or even just intuitive responses.

    At the moment, though, it is a very, very good thing should Qaddafi’s psychotically personalized nation-state regime actually be over, especially completely over.

    As I’ve stated on many occasions, I feared that there wouldn’t be either a conclusive victory or failure by the ‘rebels’ (a brief but not helpful appellation) but a North Africa- and regional destabilizing continuing civil war, even at Chadian or Sudanese levels.

    While yes, it’s true that now it’s firmly established that any claim of humanitarian need against an official enemy will be justification for military intervention, perhaps at least a norm might be being established for more ‘limited’ military attacks than the sort of nation-state destroying spasms as Iraq, or absurd claims that we can nation-build in places like Afghanistan.

    And hopefully no one will conclude that every situation of regime- or non-state-attack on civilians would benefit from a Western military intervention. This sort of stuff was heard about Sudan/Darfur, or even more fantastically vaguely, “Burma” or Zimbabwe or North Korea. People seem to be grasping that, say, in the case of Syria, it likely would (for the moment) worsen than improve the situation.

    (I don’t think such humanitarian justifications for intervention would be appreciated by the West should some non-Western state act with similar motivation, especially since such wouldn’t pass the veto club at the UN Security Council big 5, or as insiders say, the Big 1.)

    For the moment, though, if US-UK-Fr military attacks on Qaddafi regime resources and forces helped domestically formed ground forces remove the torturing murderer and government-as-personal-cult Qaddafi, it was overall a ‘good’ decision for Libyans.

    And no, this doesn’t contradict suggestions that this foreign policy was carried out for longstanding interests by US establishment foreign policy power.

    As far as what happens after a (presumed) fall of the regime, cross your fingers and ask whatever questions you think relevant. That’s what blog comment areas can be for, unless everyone wants to play decision-maker at all times.

  100. 100
    Josie says:

    @FlipYrWhig: Aaand so did you (explain it better).

  101. 101
    Derf says:

    @Zifnab: So you thought Obama would just pull the US military out of everywhere the day after inauguration? Places they have been for decades.

    You think that would have been the actions of a pragmatic president?

    Sigh…………the stupid it burns.

  102. 102
    Brachiator says:

    @DBrown:

    But you miss the real point that Cole was making – this example will be used to kill tens, even hundreds of thousands of brown/black people in the future that live under scum who control oil.

    Once again, we have the standard Balloon Juice ethical confusion. Black and brown people can kill each other all day long and Balloon Juicers wouldn’t give a rat’s ass. Some wouldn’t even care if they were doing it with weapons that were bought from Western dealers. But if Americans kill black/brown people, why that’s a war crime!

    And for the sake of the mentally deficient in the room. I don’t support the Libyan exercise or know if it is good or bad intervention. However, I DO know that knee-jerk isolationism, whether it comes from the left or the right, is an infantile fantasy. Equally infantile is the stupid notion that just because the United States stays out of other nations’ “business,” everyone else will follow suit as well. This kind of nonsense reminds me of a conversation I had with a guy who angrily insisted that if the United States abandoned all its nuclear weapons, every other nation would follow suit and refused to consider that any nation might have ambitions independent of American interests.

    Also, too, there is this, from the February NY Times:

    The United States has blocked $30 billion in Libyan government assets since President Obama announced his executive order late Friday night imposing unilateral sanctions against Colonel Muammar el-Qaddafi and his family, the Treasury Department said Monday. It is the largest amount of foreign assets ever seized in an American sanctions action.

    Wasn’t this an unfair action that the United States should never have undertaken?

    Shouldn’t the US withdraw from the United Nations and refuse to participate in or assent to any decision by any international judicial agency if it involves a civil conflict involving a foreign nation?

    And lastly this:

    Does it change my opinion that a lot of this is not about Gaddafi, but about a steady supply of the light sweet crude that Europe is so dependent on for their ultra-low sulfur diesel fleet?

    Grow.The.Fuck.Up.

    When we stop buying shit we want cheap from China and stop dumping shit we don’t want anymore onto Bangladesh and other poor countries, and when you find a way to produce food and energy and other goods and services ONLY in the US without throwing other countries into poverty, then we might have an fun conversation. Of course, we will also be riding unicorns.

    Bottom line: intervening in other countries is often evil. Doing nothing is often evil. Choose your poison, and have a nice day.

  103. 103
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    try adding in 10$ gallon gasoline.

    I’m confused. I thought we were fighting this to make sure the oil kept flowing. Are you saying that fighting this will stop the oil from flowing? Were we supposed to support President Whatever-His-Last-Name-Is of Libya in order to keep gas prices down? That sounds like a political calculation.

  104. 104
    Zifnab says:

    @Tractarian: @Josie: Ah, fair enough.

    In that case, I kinda-sorta agree. Palin / Perry / Romney would do whatever they damn well pleased while in office. But there are some logistical concerns when fighting a war on the other side of the planet.

    If Obama wanted to truly de-escalate the global presence of the US military, he could do quite a bit. Decommission aircraft carriers. Close foreign military bases. Sever diplomatic ties with military allies. Likewise, if he wanted to prepare for escalation, he could do the reverse.

    Obama’s war policies in Libya and Qatar, as well as his continued troop presence in Iraq and Afghanistan, make future conflicts less difficult for future Presidents to engage in. A truly dovish President (a Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, for instance) could really gut the foundation of the American military empire and thereby limit Palin / Perry / Romney strategic options in the future.

  105. 105
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    Lot new Ak’s gettin flashed around in Tripoli. These dudes have the worst fire discipline ever.

  106. 106
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Joe Bauers: Pax Americana has nearly bankrupted us, and it’s going to end soon whether we want it to or not.

    exactly. Pax Americana is dust and ashes.
    And after the Arab Spring, the American Fall.

  107. 107
    Tractarian says:

    @Joe Bauers:

    Pax Americana The Iraq War has nearly bankrupted us, and it’s going to end soon whether we want it to or not.

    Fixed.

  108. 108
    D-Notice says:

    Does it change my opinion that a lot of this is not about Gaddafi, but about a steady supply of the light sweet crude that Europe is so dependent on for their ultra-low sulfur diesel fleet? No.

    I’m not sure about that.

    The west has had easy access to Libyan oil for the past 10 years.

  109. 109
    Mike Goetz says:

    You absolutely cannot resolve the question of “hostilities” without referencing the statute in which the term appears. Otherwise, you are mocking a claim that the Administration has not made.

    The question of what the word “commerce” means in the Constitution takes up several shelves in the library. Weird, since everybody “knows” what it means IRL.

  110. 110
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Bruce S:

    This was a pragmatic call in support of an uprising that I couldn’t in good conscience oppose based on what I saw or could know.

    Contrast this with Bush I’s call for various Iraqi minority groups to rise in revolt in the wake of the liberation of Kuwait, and how Bush I stood by and let Saddam crush the very revolts Bush I encouraged.

    Do not get me started on his war criminal deserter son. Just don’t.

  111. 111
    Lysana says:

    Since the people of Libya did and still are doing the bulk of the regime change work, why would WE need a long-term plan? So many of you are arguing like we’re the ones who gave them the idea and guided them like some Great White Hope. We wouldn’t have even been approached by NATO if not for the revolutionaries. Care to give some thought to how this is working in your heads, or is this too close to examining racism?

  112. 112
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Zifnab: Except Congress would oppose all of that. Just like Gitmo, it takes a lot of money to decommission ships and move soldiers. You don’t just get to say “Park that carrier, and we’re done.”

  113. 113
    El Cid says:

    @boss bitch: Rwanda seems to have been a truly exceptional case, if longstanding arguments by a variety of sources are correct, in that the actual national-level genocide could have been prevented by using existing peacekeeping forces to control roads.

    I’m not even sure if such logistical control and enforcement would count under regular standards of “military intervention,” given the existence of peacekeepers with some enforcement powers anyway. I know it would if one nation arbitrarily enforced it on another, and that might even count as “aggression”.

    Given that in Rwanda most of the killings were by gun and machete-wielding individuals moving town by town over roads, it would be pretty difficult to use an air campaign, particularly given that locals were rallied to assist. There were certainly some heavier weapons used, many of which sold to the government by the French and other Western nations.

  114. 114
    Derf says:

    @Brachiator: And there are historical lessons of both.

    Clinton decided NOT go into Rwanda. Let me remind you how that turned out.
    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rwandan_Genocide

    To his credit, he has since acknowledged that it was a mistake.

  115. 115
    Tractarian says:

    A truly dovish President (a Ron Paul or Dennis Kucinich, for instance) could really gut the foundation of the American military empire and thereby limit Palin / Perry / Romney strategic options in the future.

    I’m sorry, I get that you’re trying to backtrack from misunderstanding Josie’s rather lucid post, but this is a total non-sequitur.

    No one, anywhere, any time, has suggested that Obama should unilaterally slash the military’s readiness and capabilities. I might even suggest that such a move would be highly ill-advised, because while having the benefit of severely curtailing future presidents’ discretion with respect to defending the country, it also has the major drawback of severely curtailing future presidents’ discretion with respect to defending the country.

  116. 116
    The Worst Person In the World says:

    Yes, I am sure Sharia law, instituted “democratically” (whatever the hell that means in these cases. Do women have the vote?) will be most excellent for all the people of Libya, especially women, gays, intellectuals, workers, etc.

    It will be lovely.

    Ummm…”democracy” doesn’t work in all cultures at all stages of development. Hell, it doesn’t work in the United States.

  117. 117
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Tractarian: wrong. its not just OIF. its 50 years of American FP. Operation Ajax, Bully Israel, propping the Shah and Mubarak, droning Waziristan, five million Iraqi orphans, etc.
    Its Pax Americana en toto.
    OBL landed a lucky junkpunch in America’s economic nads, and the whole free market house of cards came tumbling down.

    The Arab Spring is fueled by social media. no one can put that djinni back in the bottle.
    And just wait until September, when the UN vote on Pali statehood event occurs.

  118. 118
    EZSmirkzz says:

    I’ve always understood your, and others, opposition to the Libyan intervention. I even understand that my, ” because they asked us to help,” rationale, by itself would be lame. But I think that we were given the opportunity to take the high moral ground by a Libyan blogger who was willing to, and did die, for his liberty and that of his countrymen, by imposing a no fly zone, which is all that he asked for and all that we delivered. That doesn’t mean to say that the high moral ground is also highly moral ground, it isn’t if we have concluded that all war is immoral.

    In the end we have to decide whether our limited intervention will in the long run lead to fewer deaths than more, not just of Libyans, but of all the Mediterranean area peoples. Until America can disengage itself from empire without catastrophic repercussions from that vacuum, then we are obligated to maintain American power in that region. In that regard it doesn’t really matter that America is an economic empire rather than a military one, as the vacuum of power is the ultimate danger to peace in the region.

    There never was a good or right choice, only a better and best choice. Yours.

  119. 119
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @The Worst Person In the World: So then none of it matters either way.

  120. 120
    Bruce S says:

    El Cid – August 22, 2011 | 1:14 pm · Link
    You people are not making the policy decisions. This is a blog comments section. You don’t actually face the choice of intervening or not. Really. You don’t. No one is asking you to decide. No one would have chosen to or chosen not to militarily intervene if you agreed or disagreed.

    Reminds me of the old joke about the retired guys sitting on a park bench in Florida. The punch line (updated) is “I let my wife make all of the little, insignificant decisions, like ‘Are we gonna take a trip to Europe?’, ‘Should we go out to dinner?’, ‘What movie do we go see?,’ ‘What do we buy for the grandkids?’, while I make all of the big, important ones, like ‘Should we cut back on military spending?’, ‘Do we stick with the Bush tax cuts?’, ‘Should we invade Iran?’…

  121. 121
    Samara Morgan says:

    @The Worst Person In the World: doesnt matter what you think, you panty-sniffing western culture chauvinist.
    Because of the consent of the governed.
    its gunna be what the Libyan/Egyptian/Iraqi/Afghan/Turkish people decide.
    and you cant do jackshit about it.
    and neither can the powerless hyperpower.
    We just spent 4.4 trillion dollars and 10 years trying.
    :)

  122. 122
    Jinchi says:

    @Lysana:

    Since the people of Libya did and still are doing the bulk of the regime change work, why would WE need a long-term plan?

    The question isn’t whether we supported Libyans overthrowing Khadaffi. It’s whether we thought that the United States should be involved. Since we were, we should have a plan to ensure that what comes next is in fact better than what was before.

  123. 123
    The Worst Person In the World says:

    @catclub:

    Given that Obama has now outlasted Osama Bin Laden and Khaddafy.

    Got any PROOF that Bin Laden was killed as the U.S. claims?

    I mean, other than statements and documents provided by the ever-reliable and trustworthy U.S. government which is of course never known to lie?

    My guess is he’s been dead for a number of years. The “we threw him in the ocean” story is hilarious.

  124. 124
    patroclus says:

    The U.S. was involved in hostilities in Libya since February and the side we’ve been stongly supporting just prevailed in the conflict, deposing a murderous crazy dictator that has brutalized his country for over 4 decades, flaunted multiple U.S. presidencies, blatantly
    killed Americans (from German discoes to international flights) and attempted to lead a worldwide revolution.

    I don’t think I’ve ever seen a post here with which I have disagreed more. Someone is focusing on the trees and not seeing the forest.

  125. 125
  126. 126
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jinchi:

    it should have a plan to ensure that what comes next is in fact better than what was before.

    i dont know why this is sooooo hard for juicers to unnerstan.
    YOU DONT GET TO DECIDE.
    because of the consent of the governed.

  127. 127
    Zifnab says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Except Congress would oppose all of that. Just like Gitmo, it takes a lot of money to decommission ships and move soldiers. You don’t just get to say “Park that carrier, and we’re done.”

    Well, you can play the GOP card and just say “No” to the defense budget until it comes out how you like it. Alternately, you can tell your bureaucrats to simply not spend the money allocated to them.

    Boehner got 98% of what he wanted to threatening to blow up the debt limit deals. An equally willful President / Congressional minority that simply doesn’t care about military spending at all could claim similar leverage.

  128. 128
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Lysana:

    This is a good point. US/NATO involvement in this ended some time back, at least in the dropping ordnance to help out the rebels sense.

    The operations in Tripoli are an all Libyan show. Taking out Qaddafi’s tactical advantage of air power pretty much evened the playing field, along with the rebels taking him on in a disciplined, methodical manner.

    Now it’s up to the Libyans to sort out how the future is shaped. It helps a lot that this is their victory, fully owned by them. We just helped out enough to leave the rest up to them.

    I wish them luck in the aftermath.

  129. 129
    MBunge says:

    “you miss the real point that Cole was making – this example will be used to kill tens, even hundreds of thousands of brown/black people in the future that live under scum who control oil.”

    No. I think the point is that Cole and others shouldn’t allow George W. Bush to so utterly rule their world that they have a knee jerk response to any and all uses of military force.

    Mike

  130. 130
    Brachiator says:

    @Derf:

    Clinton decided NOT go into Rwanda. Let me remind you how that turned out.

    Sorry, not in the mood for glib shit, especially over Rwanda. Yeah, Clinton did nothing. The French were complicit in providing arms to those who committed genocide, the UN was on the ground and did nothing, and Americans watched horrible things happen like it was little more than a goddam TV show and did nothing, and didn’t demand that anything be done.

    And this goes twice over for every conservative, and anybody else who wants to make cheap political points over genocide.

  131. 131
    El Cid says:

    @D-Notice:

    The west has had easy access to Libyan oil for the past 10 years.

    That’s true, but it’s also the case that those same European leaders were aware that Qaddafi (a) was, to say the least, a “mercurial” ally capable of radical change at any time and had demonstrated consistently over decades the willingness to break with allies, and (b) that the Libyan nation-state was so utterly personalized around Qaddafi himself that not only was there no clear idea of what could follow his eventual exit (he was going to die sometime, surely, though Mugabe seems to avoid that), there wasn’t even a state bureaucracy to speak of outside Qaddafi’s constant and direct control.

    Removing him from power was a greater long-term bet, at least if I recall correctly what I’ve read over the years.

    Not to mention he’s been on the US official enemies lists both as a sponsor of enemy action (terrorist or not) and as a regional destabilizer — one of the main funders of the various forces aiding Sudan in its war against the South.

  132. 132
    Tractarian says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    wrong. its not just OIF. its 50 years of American FP.

    True, we’ve spent a great deal of national output on defense in the last 50 years. But to say that our policy toward Iran in the 50s is the reason this country is “nearly bankrupt” is too far. You may not like America’s history of military hegemony, but it’s the Iraq War that cost trillions, not Grenada.

    OBL landed a lucky junkpunch in America’s economic nads, and the whole free market house of cards came tumbling down.

    Huh? Osama caused the housing bubble and financial crisis? I thought it was American defense spending for the last 50 years that brought our economy to its knees?

  133. 133
    Rorgg says:

    @catclub Come on, set down the aluminum foil. I’m sure AQ themselves decided to name a new leader right now so they could prop up the government story because they’re all such good buddies.

    Sometimes the simply obvious answer is obvious becase it’s the truth.

  134. 134
    dead existentialist says:

    @Lysana: BJers are not immune to American Exceptionalism. Remember, it’s all about us! We’re special! USA, USA, USA!!11!

  135. 135
    superluminar says:

    @John Cole
    So I’ve read your post, and all the comments to date, and I can’t seem to find what it is you think the correct response to the Libyan crisis 6 months ago would have been. A harsher, more cynical commenter than myself would say that you would have been happy to stand by and watch thousands slaughtered, on the grounds that it’s “none of our business”, but I think better of you than that. Doing “nothing” is still taking a side – what would you have done?

  136. 136
    Bruce S says:

    Delando – I wasn’t a big supporter of the first Gulf War – was ambivalent. But Bush1’s actions before (allowing his ambassador to signal to Saddam that his conflict with Kuwait wasn’t of much concern) and after (letting Saddam engage in real-time massacres with our air power standing by) was contemptible. Again, this gets to the “Do they have a clue?” question, which ultimately matters more than some abiding principle that I personally hold to regarding military intervention. It amazes me that Bush1 is still given a pass on his conduct.

  137. 137
    sapient says:

    Bruce S and some other posters – thank you so much for your thoughtful and informed comments.

    I hope for the best in Libya, that the rebels are able to win quickly, and then establish a representative government that respects the interests of its people. I’m sure there will be some painful things that happen along the way, even in the best case.

    Our involvement was this: We initially acted to prevent a massacre, one that Human Rights Watch, and other international organizations with people on the ground were witnessing. We provided the military tools that only we had. We did it under the imprimatur of the UN Security Council. We acted under the authority and management of NATO. As to whether “we” have a plan – our plan is to allow the Libyan people, led by the rebel forces to determine their future. Their future is not ours to plan. Obviously, when we don’t “plan” governments for other countries, those who do the work may screw it up. That is their problem, although, as the UN has already said, we do have a humanitarian responsibility to protect civilians, if necessary.

    Our actions in Libya are so far on the opposite side of the spectrum from our actions in Iraq, that it’s disgusting to me that interested people can’t figure out the difference. It makes me despair even more of our future.

  138. 138
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Zifnab: You’re getting it backwards. Obama cannot tell Gitmo to close, because he has to do something with the people at Gitmo. A president couldn’t pull all of the soldiers out of Germany because it takes money to move the people out of Germany and back to the US. And there is only one place to get that money: Congress, and Congress gets to say where the money will go.

    And I could count on one hand the number of Congresspeople who will vote to decommission a Nimitz class carrier right now.

  139. 139
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Pococurante:

    they leap from “it’s a quagmire” to “now comes the hard part.”

    perfect synopsis of Coles position.
    so who’s next?

    i pick Algeria. because of the Sufis.

  140. 140
    Davis X. Machina says:

    @D-Notice:

    The west has had easy access to Libyan oil for the past 10 years.

    By 2005 production was finally back to 1980 levels…they were pumping basically as fast as they could before the recession.

  141. 141
    Samara Morgan says:

    @superluminar: abu aardvark got Cole perfectly.

    they leap from “it’s a quagmire” to “now comes the hard part.”

  142. 142
    Martin says:

    @FlipYrWhig:

    Whatever Obama did in this case had no bearing on what some future president would feel comfortable doing.

    Well, that’s probably true in general. It might shape a broader debate within parties, but Presidents are going to do what Presidents are going to do. There’s not a hell of a lot of precedent for Iraq II, for example.

    But I think Obama’s motivation to participate here was affected in no small part by his desire to give the multinational community – the UN, NATO, etc. – credibility. That was mostly wrecked under Bush. The US could do what it wanted when it wanted, and the UN were a bunch of stupid frogs that only wanted to destroy the ability of the US to operate. This was an example of how the US could work with the UN and NATO – providing a lot of early support to a security council initiative when it was well positioned to do so, and then as time afforded, bring allies in to take over, and then hand off to a responsible group of member nations, while we get back to what we need to do. Not only did the US participate as a member nation, but we didn’t let the UN/NATO hamstring us from other actions.

    Honestly, the takeaway from this is, as far as I’m concerned, that the US can participate very well in multinational operations without being forced to shoulder the entire burden, and that the US can afford to take problems back to the UN and other agencies without losing the ability to act. The UN and NATO are really the big winners here, and I think that’s partly by design.

  143. 143
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Tractarian:

    Do not engage the lunatic obtuse pseudo-muslim nutcase. Just don’t. Ignore the dizzy bimbo. That’s my new policy on her, and I’m sticking to it.

  144. 144
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): can’t you read?
    i was talking about the Arab Spring coming to KSA.
    that will make for 10$ gallon gasoline.

  145. 145
    El Cid says:

    @Bruce S: I’ll look it up, but fairly recently some of the declassified (or maybe Wikileaks) materials on the time seemed to demonstrate exactly what I figured all along — Glaspie at all thought Saddam was just talking about a few disputed areas of oil fields on the border. They never thought he could possibly have suggested he’d invade and occupy Kuwait. Got to go, but I’ll try and trace down the links when I can.

  146. 146
    ericblair says:

    @Zifnab:

    If Obama wanted to truly de-escalate the global presence of the US military, he could do quite a bit. Decommission aircraft carriers. Close foreign military bases. Sever diplomatic ties with military allies.

    Besides severing diplomatic ties, which sounds a little extreme, decommissioning vehicles and bases costs money. This money needs to be appropriated through Congress. Have fun with that, even if the goopers weren’t reflexively denying everything Obama wants. When Obama wanted to close Gitmo, that’s how the Senate (including what, forty Dems?) put the kibosh on it.

  147. 147
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: I applaud your stance. It’s just so difficult to do when the child is so blatantly wrong though huh?

    As far as Libya: it wasn’t perfect, but now we get to see the after. I’m excited and terrified at the same time.

  148. 148
    cervantes says:

    Well, it’s clear your name isn’t Juan.

  149. 149
    Zifnab says:

    @Tractarian:

    I might even suggest that such a move would be highly ill-advised, because while having the benefit of severely curtailing future presidents’ discretion with respect to defending the country, it also has the major drawback of severely curtailing future presidents’ discretion with respect to defending the country.

    From what?

    We’re dropping $900 billion this year on military spending. To protect us from what? What on God’s green are are we doing with *eleven* aircraft carriers with *three more on the way*? What are we going to do with all our nuclear missiles? Exactly how many mothballed F-18s does our country really require?

    I mean, let’s get serious here. The whole stated reason we were attacked on 9/11 was because of our military bases in Saudi Arabia. We had to be ready to defend against people who attacked us for having bases to defend us against people who would attack us.

    Beyond that, the biggest conflicts we’re seeing that we aren’t currently in are internal conflicts. Riots in the Middle East. Riots in France. Riots in England. International trade has made our large military somewhat obsolete because China, Russia, and Germany have very little incentive to assault their biggest trading partner.

    We won back in the 80s, when the Berlin Wall fell down and China opened its doors. There’s very little left we need to defend ourselves from.

  150. 150
    Samara Morgan says:

    @El Cid: i think you are correct.
    Saddam was an american client. and a bulwark against the iranian theocracy and Sayyid Ayatollah Ruhollah Khomeini.
    Saddam misunderstood.

  151. 151
    The Tragically Flip says:

    Not to deliberately be a downer, but the apparent success of this venture should be taken in stride as “so far, so good.” Iraq in the days after the fall of Saddam was looking like a smashing success too. It takes a few months for the various factions with access to weapons and reliable income streams within Libya to figure out where they are, and what they want to do. If one group decides “we want all the oil revenue” and other groups decide “we deserve our piece and have the means to get it” you’ll get another civil war.

    Gaddafi didn’t stay in power alone, there were lots of people who helped him and the chances of some serious retributive violence here are pretty high.

  152. 152
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Yutsano: who’s next Yut?
    i pick Algeria.

    because of the Sufis.
    :)

  153. 153
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    You know, there are a lot of people here who seem to think that we can just turn on the transporter beams and send troops instantaneously to anywhere on the globe and have them fight whatever group is engaging in genocide and make them stop over an indefinite period, apparating in food, ammunition, and other supplies violating Gamp’s Law of Elemental Transfiguration repeatedly.

    Rwanda would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to do much about, mainly because the US has next to no logistical base in place to intervene in that part of the world. I suppose that some fast negotiations with South Africa might have resulted in a staging area, but even with that, it takes time (often too much time in a fast moving situation) to get the necessary support on the ground for “doing something” about it.

    The thing about the two gulf wars that no one (especially in the sewer that is the media) understands is that they were successful because we had a huge logistical apparatus in place to make them possible. The effort put into that was staggering, and expensive, and it gets almost no attention at all. Such is the life of the quartermaster.

  154. 154
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Zifnab: we are defending ourselves from paranoia.

  155. 155
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent): I figured I would try it your way for once.

  156. 156
    Laertes says:

    When Obama stepped into this mess, I was worried that it’d just be a newbie mistake and put American credibility on the line to no good result.

    I’m not too worried about whatever precedents he’s allegedly creating. As they’ve demonstrated time and again, Republicans when they’re in charge are going to do whatever evil shit they want to do, precedent or otherwise be damned.

    It looks like we’re getting a pretty happy result at a very low cost. I wasn’t sure Obama was making the smart move, but it’s very hard to argue with a man who says “I did it my way, and it worked.”

  157. 157
    ericblair says:

    @Zifnab:

    We’re dropping $900 billion this year on military spending. To protect us from what? What on God’s green are are we doing with eleven aircraft carriers with three more on the way? What are we going to do with all our nuclear missiles? Exactly how many mothballed F-18s does our country really require?

    I don’t see anybody arguing with you about this. What people are saying is that Obama can’t wave a magic wand and do all of this by himself. The whole convoluted BRAC process, even if it’s only closing or repurposing a couple of bases at a go, was designed because it’s considered politically impossible to do this through the normal legislative process. Shitcanning all of the useless stuff is going to take a lot of work over a number of years and needs a committed Congress to do most of the heavy lifting. We ain’t exactly there.

  158. 158
    chopper says:

    @gex:

    not a whole lot, at least not preferably. europe (mostly italy, actually) buys from libya because its great oil with a substantial diesel fraction. after libyan oil went off the market saudi arabia tried shopping its own replacement blend to europe as a replacement and it fell flat because their ‘new blend’ kinda sucked. italy isn’t going to shop for the stuff we buy to make gasoline if they can avoid it. of course, they’ll take what they can get if that’s all they can get, and europe’s biggest oil benefactor, russia, is running full-bore but is running out fast.

    as i said, europe’s energy stability is in our best interest. i just think our involvement ‘being all about oil’ is too broad an assertion.

  159. 159
    Tractarian says:

    @superluminar:

    I can’t seem to find what it is you think the correct response to the Libyan crisis 6 months ago would have been. A harsher, more cynical commenter than myself would say that you would have been happy to stand by and watch thousands slaughtered, on the grounds that it’s “none of our business”…

    I think that’s exactly what President John Cole would have done.

    Now, don’t get me wrong, I certainly understand the impulse to shy away from conflict, especially after the Iraq fiasco. And frankly, I don’t think it’s a horrible impulse, morally speaking. When it comes down to it, the slaughtering of civilians would be Qaddafi’s responsibility, not ours; even if we had the clear chance to intervene and chose not to.

    That said, I’m glad we have a president who doesn’t act on impulse or knee-jerk reactions but rather coldly evaluates each situation as it presents itself.

  160. 160
    Enhanced Voting Techniques says:

    Obama is a whimp; a President Perry would have just nuked Libya to protect out oil on day one and ordered Boehner to give Perry fellatio in the oval office (since only perverts use interns)

  161. 161
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Yutsano:

    The most frustrating thing about her is her absolutely insane tendency to be more concerned with knifing those who might be her allies than engaging her adversaries.

    She’s got this Malkin-like tendency to cheer on those who would happily toss her into a harem and never let her see the light of day again.

  162. 162
    jwest says:

    First he kills Bin Laden, then he liberates an entire country.

    The only thing this superhero lacks is a cape. (don’t they hand out Nobel Prizes for this sort of thing?)

  163. 163
    The Tragically Flip says:

    The prime critique of the venture I’d agree with is the lack of Congressional approval and the frankly impeachable use of sophistry in the denial that what was happening qualified as “hostilities.”

    The War Powers Act was violated by this Administration. Bush contemplated doing so, and probably would have if the Democrats had shown any sign of denying him his AUMF in the Senate, but he did ultimately seek and get Congressional approval to fight a war.

    I shudder at what the next Cheney/Addington/Yoo group of always-wrong-neocons will do with this newfound Presidential power to tell Congress to fuck off by simply redefining plain language of statutes to avoid the need to comply with them.

  164. 164
    Yutsano says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    She’s got this Malkin-like tendency to cheer on those who would happily toss her into a harem and never let her see the light of day again.

    Doing it all from the milieu of a culture and society she nominally despises. Teh irony, it is indeed rich. She doesn’t have the first fucking clue what oppression really is. But then again suzanne nailed her a few threads back.

    @The Tragically Flip: Congress refused to stop him. They were the ones with the power and ability to do so. All they gave him was a sternly worded letter.

  165. 165
    Dan Carmell says:

    @Derf: John’s post is pretty accurate, as far as I can tell, both with regard to the reality of the intervention and its likely consequences for our domestic politics and international relationships. I am very excited for the Libyan people–it would be hard to see the news clips and not see how happy most are.

    But John’s post includes reasoned criticism of the Obama administration on this intervention. To my mind, that’s what Greenwald does, but because people don’t like his tone or disagree with his positions on issues like civil liberties, he is largely scorned from the front page bloggers to the posters here at Balloon Juice. We Democrats are better at circular firing squads than the Repubs, but that is in part because principles and not just power are important to us.

    When John Cole criticizes the Obama admin, we should listen and evaluate his arguments. Ditto to Greenwald and Hamsher.

    Dan Carmell
    Oakland, California

  166. 166
    Bruce S says:

    Yutsano: As far as Libya: it wasn’t perfect, but now we get to see the after. I’m excited and terrified at the same time.

    Yes.

  167. 167
    Tractarian says:

    @ericblair:

    I don’t see anybody arguing with you about this.

    Well, to be fair, I did question the wisdom of a president unilaterally rolling back the entire US military apparatus in order to bind the hands of his successors. I stick by that, but let’s leave that argument for another day. :)

  168. 168
    wrb says:

    @ericblair:

    The whole convoluted BRAC process, even if it’s only closing or repurposing a couple of bases at a go, was designed because it’s considered politically impossible to do this through the normal legislative process. Shitcanning all of the useless stuff is going to take a lot of work over a number of years and needs a committed Congress to do most of the heavy lifting. We ain’t exactly there.

    Which is the beauty of the debt ceiling trigger

  169. 169
    agrippa says:

    All’s well that ends well.
    So far, it appears that it might end well.
    I understand why the WH got involved in this; I doubt that I would have. But, I have no strong objection to getting involved.

  170. 170
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: we had troops on the ground there you fucking assclown.
    but they were only there to evacuate the white people.
    ANTHONY LAKE, Nat’l Security Advisor to Pres. Clinton: Well, I met with Monique and was moved and terrified for her by her story of barely escaping, hiding in the attack for a while and then getting out.

    MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA: [through interpreter] I think he was partly affected by what was happening in Rwanda. But as a government official, he was not ready to take action. He didn’t want to.

    ANTHONY LAKE: And it’s not that I didn’t care, it’s that any caring wasn’t translated into any focus, any attention really. On something like this, it would have taken quite a push. And there’s no question in my mind that, in the end, the president would have had to push it.

    MONIQUE MUJAWAMARIYA: [through interpreter] A congressional official responsible for Africa gave me an explanation which was discouraging but also enlightening. He said, “Listen, Monique, the United States has no friends. The United States has interests. And in the United States, there is no interest in Rwanda. And we are not interested in sending young American Marines to bring them back in coffins. We have no incentive.”

  171. 171
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    Try the Guardian — US media sux

    How would Libya’s next government take shape?

    As others have mentioned, the National Transitional Council (NTC) has been in place since February and has an interim plan drawn up. France was the first country to recognize them as the new government in Libya back in March, and several other countries (including the UK) also officially recognize them.

    The US doesn’t need a plan for the transition. The Libyan people have drawn up their own. All the US needs to do is respect their decisions.

  172. 172
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @jwest:

    Drives you crazy, doesn’t it, you contemptible Koch-sucking worm.

  173. 173
    srv says:

    @The Dangerman:

    Perhaps we should ask the 200+ Lockerbie Families their opinion on forced regime change?

    Perhaps you should ask Mrs. Irvine.

    Am I glad we didn’t let the NV Navy get away with the Gulf of Tonkin.

  174. 174
    jon says:

    @chopper: Any oil freely flowing is oil for us at a better price. There’s no “our” oil and “their” oil, as even protecting oil going to China or Cuba is in our interest. The market is the market, and oil from Russia, Norway, Libya, Iran, Iraq, Syria, Venezuela, and Alaska is all just one part of the whole. Higher prices in Europe would affect our prices, while it’s what’s done with the oil that really affects whether one economy of another is going to be a winner or a loser in the end. Here in the US, we’re not so good at using our oil. In Europe, much more of it is used for things other than cars and heating oil.

    The fact that the light, sweet crude is getting harder to find may lead to better methods of refining the other grades of crude. But for now, that’s the stuff everyone wants and is using at an unsustainable pace. That’s why we have new standards calling for 50+mpg soon and the oil companies have been silent. As were the car companies. Biggest non event of the Obama Presidency, if you ask me.

  175. 175
    superluminar says:

    @Tractarian:

    When it comes down to it, the slaughtering of civilians would be Qaddafi’s responsibility, not ours

    i think this sentence is doing more work than it can bear. Not that you’re entirely wrong with what you say, but the idea that bystanders to an appalling event who have the opportunity to do something but decline are completely blameless seems to me morally suspect.

  176. 176
    dm9871 says:

    John, thank you for your sanity! Amidst all of the cheerleading it is most welcome.

    Why is it so hard for people to separate two ideas: (1) I hope that the Libyan people overthrow Qaddafi and replace him with a government that more reflects the will of the Libyan people and (2) I believe the U.S., through military force, should help to bring that about.

    As far as I’m concerned those two ideas have nothing to do with each other. I support the former and not the latter. Why is it so hard for people to want the world to look a certain way and simultaneously to recognize that America should not be involved in creating that world.

  177. 177
    The Worst Person In the World says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    doesnt matter what you think, you panty-sniffing western culture chauvinist.

    Freak.

    What part of “democracy doesn’t even work in the U.S. is beyond your limited comprehesion?

    BTW, I can smell YOUR panties from here. You should change them and burn the current pair. Might kill those crabs too, and help with the yeast infection.

  178. 178
    Tractarian says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    The prime critique of the venture I’d agree with is the lack of Congressional approval and the frankly impeachable use of sophistry in the denial that what was happening qualified as “hostilities.”

    Right.

    I shudder at what the next Cheney/Addington/Yoo group of always-wrong-neocons will do with this newfound Presidential power to tell Congress to fuck off by simply redefining plain language of statutes to avoid the need to comply with them.

    Wrong! “The next Cheney/Addington/Yoo group of always-wrong-neocons” will do whatever the hell they want, regardless of whether Obama did it first. (In fact, Obama having done it first might discourage the neocons from repeating it, on the basis of the GOP’s general whatever-Obama-does-must-be-opposed theory of governance)

  179. 179
    ericblair says:

    @wrb:

    Which is the beauty of the debt ceiling trigger

    Yeah, maybe. Optimistically, it could give Congress cover to do what a lot of Congresscritters actually want to do. On the other hand, Congress is very good at ignoring its own triggers, and to me it’s likely they’ll pass a waiver to the trigger on some Tuesday morning and everyone will go on with their lives.

  180. 180
    Bruce S says:

    El Cid – I think you’re right about Glasspie and the Bush1 admin. But it seems bizarre to imply that an eentsie, weentsie invasion would be okay, and then go full guns when an obviously brutal egomaniac overreaches after you’ve given him a wink. I don’t have any full knowledge on this, but it makes one wonder if they wanted a confrontation. Although that doesn’t make much sense either. The politics at both ends of the episode were not just indefensible, but strange IMHO. Bad diplomacy and then, after a full-on counter-invasion, allowing Saddam to crush internal opposition. The irony of all this is that in the end Bush2 did Iran a huge favor…of all external powers, Tehran will be reaping the greatest benefits of our blood and treasure spent in Iraq.

  181. 181
    jwest says:

    Villago,

    Perhaps a bit more fiber in your diet would help your disposition. It must be hard to be pleasant while constipated.

  182. 182
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Yutsano: that stupid cow didnt even scratch me.
    and neither did you or asiangirlman.

    @Villago Delenda Est:
    NARRATOR: Overnight, 1,000 French and Belgian paratroopers had arrived without warning, seizing Kigali airport. These troops were not under U.N. command. Their mission was solely to get the expatriates out. Dozens of journalists had arrived with the new troops. They traveled with Belgian soldiers to Kigali’s psychiatric hospital, where the Western staff was trapped. On the way in, they drove past the Interahamwe waiting outside.

    Tutsis emerged from the hospital building, where they’d been hiding for three days. They said they were surrounded by the militias, that some of them had already been killed. When it was clear the soldiers weren’t going to help, the refugees appealed to the journalists.

    KATELIJNE HERMANS, Belgian Television: There was a whole group of people, but in the whole group, one woman started to speak and started to explain why they were afraid and what was happening to them. And she started begging us to take her and the others with us. She was speaking to me, a woman to a woman, saying, “I’m afraid. Please help me!” And we were just listening to her, and we couldn’t do anything. At that moment, we thought we couldn’t do anything, just listen and say “Yes.”

    So we left. For the white people, it’s over, but we knew the hundreds that stayed. And we heard the shooting at the moment we left. So it was clear for me that hell starts for them.

    NARRATOR: All Western troops and U.N. peacekeepers were under orders not to evacuate ordinary Rwandans.

    Maj. BRENT BEARDSLEY: What that meant was, anybody that was white-skinned got to get on an airplane and fly to safety, and anybody that was black-skinned got to stay in Rwanda and get killed. And that’s as simple as it came down to. It still to this day leaves a very, very bad taste in my mouth that the United States of America could have 350 Marines sitting at Bujumbura Airport, that the French were able to get in 500 or so paratroopers, that the Belgians had over a 1,000 paratroopers. You know, we basically had our intervention force already on the ground.

    You know, what they later told us, is it was impossible to get on the ground. We had it on the ground on the 10th of April, within three days of this thing starting and– but it wasn’t there to intervene. It wasn’t there to save Rwanda, it was there to save white people. And that’s what it came down to.

  183. 183
    sapient says:

    @dm9871:
    “As far as I’m concerned those two ideas have nothing to do with each other. I support the former and not the latter. Why is it so hard for people to want the world to look a certain way and simultaneously to recognize that America should not be involved in creating that world.”

    If you want the world to look a certain way, as a citizen of the world, you can help to bring that change about. I think that watching a soccer game and hoping that your team wins is not like watching an armed thug threaten an unarmed civilian and hope that the civilian manages to get out of it. Sometimes somebody needs to do something. That “somebody” doesn’t have to be the U.S. acting unilaterally, but if the U.S. has the authentic support of the international community (such as, through a UN resolution, about the most solid support it can get) it should act.

  184. 184
    Tractarian says:

    @superluminar:

    Well, it’s certainly complicated, isn’t it? For instance, our having the “opportunity” to prevent civilian deaths does not mean it comes without cost to us.

    Hypothetical: I’m standing with my family next to a burning house. There are kids in the upstairs windows waiting to be rescued. Am I really morally responsible for their deaths when I refuse to go in? What if I went in to try to save the kids and the house implodes we all die? Am I then morally responsible for the effects my death will have on my children?

    It’s complicated, to say the least. Which is why you can’t take ideological stands on these sorts of things.

  185. 185
    Danny says:

    @The Tragically Flip:

    The prime critique of the venture I’d agree with is the lack of Congressional approval and the frankly impeachable use of sophistry in the denial that what was happening qualified as “hostilities.”

    The Obama admin argued that US involvement did not – after the first 30 days – legally amount to “hostilities” as defined by the war powers act. The new precedent – if there is one – is that the extent to which we were involved in Libya after the first 30 days (IOW, coordination, surveillance, etc) is allowable under the war powers act – nothing else.

  186. 186
    Comrade Dread says:

    @The Dangerman: There are decent reasons to believe that without the US intervening in WWI, a stalemate would have resulted and a settled peace reached in Europe, which might have avoided the entire second war altogether.

    Speculation to be sure, but if we’re going to make call backs to history, my speculations merit as much value as yours.

  187. 187
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est:

    Rwanda would have been very difficult, if not impossible, to do much about

    we were already there you asswhipe, we were ALREADY FUCKING THERE!

  188. 188
    Jared says:

    So about this Powell doctrine.. would President Cole embrace it or reject it? How about the rest of you juicers?

    From Wiki

    The Powell Doctrine states that a list of questions all have to be answered affirmatively before military action is taken by the United States:
    1. Is a vital national security interest threatened?
    2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?
    4. Have all other non-violent policy means been fully exhausted?
    5. Is there a plausible exit strategy to avoid endless entanglement?
    6. Have the consequences of our action been fully considered?
    7. Is the action supported by the American people?
    8. Do we have genuine broad international support?

    EDIT: Sounds good to me, do you think Libya fits the model?
    Also blockquote fail

  189. 189
    Mnemosyne says:

    @srv:

    I was wondering when the “Gaddafi wuz framed!” crowd would show up.

  190. 190
    Martin says:

    @Zifnab:

    We’re dropping $900 billion this year on military spending. To protect us from what? What on God’s green are are we doing with eleven aircraft carriers with three more on the way? What are we going to do with all our nuclear missiles? Exactly how many mothballed F-18s does our country really require?

    Well, there’s an argument to be made (and not a bad one, either) that the reason we’re seeing terrorism instead of standing armies is because there’s no point of raising a standing army when the US can easily target it and blow it away. That is, even if the nuclear arsenal no longer stands as the kind of military deterrent that it did during the Cold War, those carriers and subs sure as hell do.

    I don’t think the US should reduce its carrier fleet back substantially. Or more accurately, I don’t think that NATO member nations should have a smaller carrier fleet than currently exists. I’d be perfectly content to see the UK or France or whoever take over some of our carriers, but if we got rid of ours, the west would effectively have none. We are the mobile air force for the planet right now – and not only is that handy for things like Libya, it’s also handy for things like tsunamis hitting Japan. But yeah, it’d be nice if we could share that cost a bit better. Apparently it costs about $160M per year to run a carrier, so lets say $5B to run all of them (including the smaller ones the Marines operate). Considering how much we actually do with our carrier fleet, that seems like some of the better uses of the military budget. Did we really need a $400B F-35 program for 3,000 planes and a $70B F-22 program for 200 planes? We’re spending over $200B per year on R&D and procurement. That’s more than we spend on personnel.

    Given that the military is moving to even more mobility than it currently enjoys – either better VSTOL aircraft, or more long-range aircraft, etc. building new carriers seems stupid. Just keep the current ones in service. Hell, if we can keep B-52s flying for damn near a century, we can keep a carrier afloat for that long.

    But the main problem with the military costs is that Congress has zero incentive to reduce them. They do everything they can to make programs as costly as possible to return money to their districts. That more than anything needs to stop first. And once it does stop, I think we would naturally find a more rational national security viewpoint. But until then, it’s pretty much hopeless to talk about what we should be doing strategically when pork and how Congress does appropriations is the primary motivator for our policies.

  191. 191
    Elie says:

    @Marc:

    Very good points..

    While I do not support wars in some absolute way, I find it perplexing that some people, including John, could think that America would have no international causes or interests and remain unwilling to exercise the tools necessary to shape those – sometimes using force.. do you think, for example, that Bosnia could have been “protected” through strong words from the United States?

    I think that is both naive and not particularly “reality based”. The United States is not a person who can just opt for non violence. Sure, it would be great if real existence could offer us that. But we are not in heaven, but in the world of humans. Somehow the usual leftist bromides about making peace not war just do not relate to the real world….

  192. 192
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Villago Delenda Est: has it ever occurred to you that a good honest harem might be preferable to you smug lying spinning asswipe western culture cheerleaders?
    you know NOTHING about Islam.
    fuck off panty-sniffers.

  193. 193
    Heliopause says:

    John, while everything you say is true, you don’t seem to understand what’s important. Didn’t you read Levenson’s paean to morality and principle yesterday? Dead children, bombed-out buildings, imperial power projection, none of that matters so long as Obama’s approval ratings tick up a couple of points as a result of this. FUCK YEAH!

  194. 194
    Danny says:

    @Jared:

    My 2 cents:

    1. Disagree. We should participate in UN-sponsored missions even when vital natsec interests aren’t at stake, e.g. Libya.
    2. Pretty much agree.
    3. Agree.
    4. Agree.
    5. Pretty much agree.
    6. Agree.
    7. Pretty much agree.
    8. Agree.

    Good luck at getting Cole on the record.

  195. 195
    Virginia Highlander says:

    To imagine that Libya sets a precedent is weak, since I’m not sure what is actually new, here.

    I think it is unclear whether this is actually a war. It certainly is not unprecedented — see above.

    I don’t understand why the idea of decapitating the Libyan regime offends Cole so. Was there a better way of protecting civilian life? If NATO could have put a .22 slug in the back of every Gadaffi head, wouldn’t that have saved both blood and treasure? Besides, it’s the American way, as an honest review of American history will show. Honor is for the rank and file, where it can sometimes save lives instead of wasting them.

    I don’t see why a stable Europe is a threat to Cole’s sensibilities, either. Isn’t that why Sarkozy and Cameron dragged us into it?

    And don’t forget al Jazeera and Qatar. They are the ones who sold this thing and for all we know the latter may be paying for it, too.

    Also, too: I still love John Cole, though, even when I think he’s being a p*ssy.

  196. 196
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Tractarian:

    Hypothetical: I’m standing with my family next to a burning house. There are kids in the upstairs windows waiting to be rescued. Am I really morally responsible for their deaths when I refuse to go in?

    Except that your options are not limited to either standing by and doing nothing or entering the house yourself. You can get the garden hose to try and put some of the fire out. You can figure out a way to get the kids to jump from the window as you and your family try to catch them. You can call the fire department. There are many possible interim steps between doing nothing and doing everything by yourself.

    That’s the point here: our options were not limited to either “do nothing” or “US does everything.” The US correctly decided that, while our assistance was needed, there was no requirement that we take over and run the whole show, so we stepped back and allowed other countries (primarily France) to take the lead while we provided support services.

    What’s driving me and some others here nuts is that your stance (and Cole’s) don’t seem to allow for any possibility of interim steps: either we run the whole operation, or we do nothing.

  197. 197
    Virginia Highlander says:

    Why am I in moderation?

    I shall never publicly proclaim my love for Cole again.

  198. 198
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Samara Morgan: Are your meds part of that shortage?

  199. 199
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Cole

    Does it change my opinion that we know literally nothing about the rebels who appear to be winning? No.

    Again, we have no say.
    If we helped the Libyan people to self-government, to “democracy”, we simply do not have any say in how they choose to govern themselves.
    its consent of the governed.
    that is the inherent paradox in your post. Either America believes in democracy or it doesn’t.
    its binary.

  200. 200
    superluminar says:

    @Tractarian:
    good points. In answer to this:

    I’m standing with my family next to a burning house. There are kids in the upstairs windows waiting to be rescued. Am I really morally responsible for their deaths when I refuse to go in?

    No, you’re not responsible directly, but are you responsible to some degree? Yes. A ulititarian calculation, or even a purely pragmatic one if you think you’d be useless as a rescuer, will point you in the right direction in these circumstances. The same calculus applies to interventions such as Libya, IMO.

  201. 201
    dm9871 says:

    @sapient

    I agree that we all ought to do a little more to build the world we want to see. But it’s really different when we do that in our own lives, through our own actions, and when the government does it on the lands of another sovereign state. The principle of reciprocity is important: If China or Sierra Leone wants our country to look different and they can get a bunch of nations to agree with them, does that justify their invasion of the United States? After all we allow torturers to act with impunity and we stage elections where the winner of more votes loses.

    Also, and here’s the key point: when making the world look more like we want it to involves dropping bombs on other people, we probably ought to be very cautious and act with great reluctance. The behavior of the U.S. over the last few years has shown a stubborn lack of concern in that regard. Afghanistan and Iraq now Libya. Now on to Yemen!

  202. 202
    tomvox1 says:

    We’re dropping $900 billion this year on military spending. To protect us from what? What on God’s green are are we doing with eleven aircraft carriers with three more on the way?

    This is the only sort of economic stimulus package that can still pass congress. Building bridges, dams and roads is “pork.” Building more aircraft carriers, tanks and missiles is protecting Our Way of Life © and hence an easy sell. It’s just a massive and perpetual government jobs program by another name and a damn big ‘un.

  203. 203
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Tractarian:You live your life over-thinking decisions like that?

  204. 204
    Elie says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    That’s the point here: our options were not limited to either “do nothing” or “US does everything.” The US correctly decided that, while our assistance was needed, there was no requirement that we take over and run the whole show, so we stepped back and allowed other countries (primarily France) to take the lead while we provided support services.

    This…exactly. We have options and obviously should consider a range of options….Its called making wise decisions that reflect our interests and values

  205. 205
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jared: i’d add a 9.

    is it cost-viable?

    since America is essentially bankrupt, having beggered ourselves for nothing in Iraq and A-stan, i think its reasonable to ask if we are getting a return on expenditure.
    i think American interests will have to be promoted on the cheap for the forseeable future.

  206. 206
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): You know? I don’t always agree with M_C, but I sometimes learn something from her posts, no matter how obnoxious she is.

    She certainly has no monopoly on obnoxious behavior, not by a long shot.

    I think mocking someone this way is unbecoming in an adult.

  207. 207
    Jared says:

    @Heliopause:

    It is actually possible to view things through several frames at the same time. Lets all try this out.
    Moral Frame
    Did we save more people than we killed overall? Probably. How much is Freedom worth anyway?
    Economic Frame
    A billion dollars would feed a lot of starving Africans. Why do Tomohawks cost so much?
    Political Frame
    Excellent News!! For McCain!!!
    Legal Frame
    Depends on what the definition of “hostilities” is. (seriously it a tricky one legally, not that it’ll matter)
    Troll Frame
    Tar sands? What Tar sands?

    Anybody else want to try?

  208. 208
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Virginia Highlander: Who asked you?

  209. 209
    Samara Morgan says:

    @superluminar: its called reciprocal altruism in EGT.

  210. 210
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The arguments for and against our involvement in Libya seem to constitute an irresistible force meeting an immovable object.
    So I’ll move on to something else. One of the rationales for U.S. involvement in Libya was that we were the only ones with the specialized military resources to make NATO intervention a success. Okay. Why didn’t the other participants in the intervention have these resources? I’d say it’s at least in part because we’ve spent trillions on those resources and therefore they don’t have to. They have silly things like roads, bridges, effective schools, UHC and a still robust social safety net. We, on the other hand, have thousands of military aircraft, tens of thousands of men and women under arms and eleven carrier air groups.

    Why buy a cow when you can get the milk for free? Right?

  211. 211
    Marc says:

    @Elie:

    Every choice that a president makes costs lives. That’s probably why they all seem to age so quickly when in office. Or at least the ones with a conscience do.

  212. 212
    chopper says:

    @jon:

    of course, the oil market is all a big mingle. and yes, as i said several times, stability in europe’s energy market is good for us.

    that doesn’t mean we did what we did in libya just because of ‘the oil’. that’s a lame attempt to make our foreign policy about one single issue cause it’s hard to think about complicated shit.

  213. 213
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    Either America believes in democracy or it doesn’t.__
    its binary.

    Binary may be a bit strong, but in general, I agree.

    If we were lied to, about what was happening on the ground in Libya, then that would be different. There is no indication of that and there would have been significant loss of life had NATO not intervened.

    If there were some obvious negative for the US, then that too would be different. I’m all hearing is a bunch of what-ifs.

    Sometimes, you stand for what you believe. You can’t save every child from every burning building, and sometimes you get hurt or killed trying, but that is insufficient reason to argue against doing it or condemning someone for trying.

  214. 214
    Samara Morgan says:

    @dm9871:

    involves dropping bombs on other people

    no. we dropped bombs on non-carbon based organisms with specular signatures. ie, T-72’s, T-62’s, BMPs. The friendly fire incidents were all on rebels using mecha boosted from the Qaddafi mercs and loyalists.

    We were not indiscriminately bombing civilians– we were leveling the playing field.
    We brought the rain to Qaddafi’s hardware, purchased with oil dollars he stole from his people.
    We are very, very good at bringing the rain to unfair hardware advantage.
    Now droning is where we are attempting to target specific carbon-based organisms.
    we are pretty bad at that.

  215. 215
    Brachiator says:

    @Martin:

    But I think Obama’s motivation to participate here was affected in no small part by his desire to give the multinational community – the UN, NATO, etc. – credibility.

    Damn good point. I hadn’t thought about this before, but it makes a lot of sense. It’s not just about talking about rebuilding relationships, but taking actions that rebuild those relationships. This seems to be in step with Obama’s clearly stated policy during the primaries and presidential campaign.

    I am not sure how these relationships could be rebuilt if Obama followed a strict neo-isolationist model. Perhaps some think that these relationships are unimportant, or that neutrality is more important.

  216. 216

    @The Worst Person In the World:

    Yes, I am sure Sharia law, instituted “democratically” (whatever the hell that means in these cases. Do women have the vote?) will be most excellent for all the people of Libya, especially women, gays, intellectuals, workers, etc.

    Google “Libyan Transitonal constitution”

  217. 217
    Jinchi says:

    I find it amazing that the counter arguments against John Cole in this thread read almost literally like John Cole’s pro-Iraq war argument circa April 2003.

    We won the war. That proves we were right to wage it in the first place..

    Left wingers just hate Bush

    What with the oil fields taken and promised to be put under UN control, the Al Qaeda/Iraq link firmly established through the raids at the Ansar el-Islam base camps, some of the MAIN liberal Democrat arguments against the war have already been ravaged. This was about terrorism, this is about liberating the IRaqi people, this is about WMD, and this is not about OIL.

    Crazy San Franciscans think the Saddam is better than bloodshed

    My goodness, how awful. They are giving the evil imperialist invaders flowers. How much more of this can we take?

    Howard Dean doesnt know jack-shit

    Note to Democrats- Hussein was a bad man and the Iraqi people are better off. I am sure Carville and Shrum will remember to get that in the next talking points.

    Cole seems to have learned from the experience. Where the hell were the rest of you guys on that one?

  218. 218
    sapient says:

    @Brachiator: “Perhaps some think that these relationships are unimportant, or that neutrality is more important.”

    A lot of people seem to think that. I see “progressives” dismissing the UN as if they were members of the Texas Republican Party.

  219. 219
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Virginia Highlander: Careful, you’re next from the “adult”:

    you panty-sniffing western culture chauvinist.

    you fucking assclown.

    that stupid cow didnt even scratch me.
    and neither did you or asiangirlman.

    we were already there you asswhipe,

    smug lying spinning asswipe western culture cheerleaders

  220. 220
  221. 221
    Dennis SGMM says:

    The burning building analogy is fun to use because it appeals at level below conscious thought. Try this instead; if my neighbor’s house catches fire I will do everything I can to help him and his. If a house fifty miles away catches fire then I’m not going to jump into the car and race over there to help out. That’s for his neighbors to do.

  222. 222
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): So, you’re some sort of AI spewbot?

  223. 223
    MattR says:

    @Danny:

    Many reasonable posters have asked you to stake out an actual position on foreign policy and foreign interventions.

    While you may want to hear this info from Cole, the lack of full foreign policy position does not automatically invalidate his criticisms of this particular intervention. Similarly, I don’t need to determine the exact set of conditions where police can use deadly force to know that shooting an unarmed child is not acceptable (I am not comparing Libya to an unarmed child, but pointing out that you can decide that something is bad without knowing exactly where the line from bad to acceptable is)

  224. 224
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Virginia Highlander: M_C and I go way back so mind your own fucking business. If it has something to say it will.

  225. 225
    soonergrunt says:

    @Virginia Highlander: No. He’s repeating things that MC/HGW/SM/Whateverthefuckshecallsherselftodaytoevadethepiefilters has said before.

  226. 226
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    It’s funny. I didn’t know that the US President had the ability to command French and Belgian paratroopers to pick up cigarette butts, let alone intervene in some third party’s domestic disputes.

    But then again, ‘we have no say’ in those things. The domestic disputes.

  227. 227
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Isolationism by any name…

  228. 228
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @soonergrunt: Jesus, was it that hard to figure that out? And that was just on this thread.

    How ya doin?

  229. 229
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): I can’t see why anyone might care.

  230. 230
    geg6 says:

    Didn’t agree with you then, John. Don’t agree with you now. But I haven’t been swinging any sort of hammer at you about it, either. It could have gone either way and I’m happy that the Libyan people are free of that madman and hope like hell that they take that to heart and run with it.

  231. 231
    Zifnab says:

    @chopper:

    that doesn’t mean we did what we did in libya just because of ‘the oil’. that’s a lame attempt to make our foreign policy about one single issue cause it’s hard to think about complicated shit.

    There are a lot of factors that enable this kind of conflict where other conflicts fail to materialize.

    I mean, take Syria. Syria is a close ally of Moscow’s, so it shouldn’t surprise us when the US doesn’t leap to antagonize a historical foe. Meanwhile, Libya and Qaddafi were close allies of Italy, and nobody is taking that country particularly seriously right now. I don’t believe Italy has a vote on the UN Security Council either.

    So, when comparing two oil-rich middle eastern despot-ridden revolting governments, it isn’t a terrible shock to see America side with the country that is easiest to side with.

    But when you ask “Why are we intervening in Libya and not – say – Myanmar”, the answer is pretty obviously “Who cares about Myanmar? Libya has oil.”

  232. 232
    different church-lady says:

    One of our more persistent and blockheaded trolls insists…

    Dude, it’s your blog.

  233. 233
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): everthing i said was true, if a tad rude… and i backed it with links…
    hunger makes me mean.
    sry.
    @soonergrunt: i relly prefer to be pied.
    in my experience people that pie me have nothing to contribute to the convo anyways.
    i change my nic as my online persona evolves, not to evade the pie filter.

  234. 234
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Virginia Highlander: Obviously you do with your bullshit, phony “unbecoming in an adult” tripe.

  235. 235
    dpCap says:

    @different church-lady: Blogging is no fun without trolls.

  236. 236
    Brachiator says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    They have silly things like roads, bridges, effective schools, UHC and a still robust social safety net.

    Uh, have you been following the news from the UK recently? You know, austerity budgets, cutbacks in all services including NHS, riots in the streets.

    France, another participant in the Libya effort, is not exactly rolling in croissants either.

    But I take your point on the larger issue. Clearly, there is a case to be made that since the former Soviet Union is no longer our biggest antagonist, there may not be a reason for the US to be the Number One Superpower, or a superpower at all. I got no particular problem with this.

    However, this does not really guarantee that you would have more money to spend on other stuff, especially during the current antagonistic political climate.

  237. 237
    Jared says:

    @Dennis SGMM: @Jinchi:

    I think it’s important that people on the left come up with a coherent rationale for when to use military force and when not to, that takes into account Iraq, WW2, Bosnia, Vietnam etc., otherwise people like Bush tend to dominate the argument. Because they actually make one.

    I can’t do better than better than the Powell Doctrine and I’ve tried. Can you? Can Cole?

    I disagree with m_c’s extra rule as it’s an argument against WW2.

  238. 238
    Commenting at Balloon Juice since 1937 says:

    zero casualties

    As usual, only white people count.

  239. 239
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Zifnab: you are missing the most important part– Syria has a border with Israel.
    if we get physical with Assad, he starts lobbing scuds into Israel.
    voila!
    enter WWIII.

  240. 240
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Virginia Highlander:

    Actually, it would be “isolationism by any other name…” Would it not?

    There’s a shit-ton of difference between isolationism and playing cop to the world. If you want the U.S. to intervene all over the world for humanitarian reasons then you should also STFU about the cost of our defense establishment.

  241. 241
    soonergrunt says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): Sometimes people get wrapped around the axle. I know I do at times.
    I’m doing alright, mostly. Loving my job, life in general, and everything else. Heart’s OK. Got to go see the doctor for check here in a bit, get a couple of prescriptions updated. You?

  242. 242
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    I fully concur with Mr. Cole’s amicus curiae offering to the court, and hereby offer to buy him a drink – may I recommend SUPER COKE! – or share my very cooperative wife with him.
    .
    .

  243. 243
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Samara Morgan:No prob, you know I like to pull your chain. Fuck all these other nosey little bitches.

  244. 244
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jared: we weren’t broke yet back then.
    i think Obama is changing strat here.

  245. 245
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Brachiator:

    However, this does not really guarantee that you would have more money to spend on other stuff, especially during the current antagonistic political climate.

    You’re right on both points. Lamentably, any “peace dividend” (Remember that one?) would be used as justification for more tax cuts for the rich and the corps.

  246. 246
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @soonergrunt: Good. did the swim end of a sprint Tri yesterday and, despite reading how insane it was, I was shocked. It was only 400 meters but I never caught my breath and gasped the whole way. I didn’t quit and didn’t finish last but damn!

  247. 247
    Constance says:

    @Derf:

    Please. Take your meds. Then start your own fucking blog.

  248. 248
    Jared says:

    Also “never” and “always” are coherent arguments, intellectually honest and easy to apply too.

  249. 249
    soonergrunt says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    in my experience people that pie me have nothing to contribute to the convo anyways.

    Pot, kettle…

  250. 250
    Brachiator says:

    @Zifnab:

    But when you ask “Why are we intervening in Libya and not – say – Myanmar”, the answer is pretty obviously “Who cares about Myanmar? Libya has oil.”

    And what does Syria have?

    But I take your larger point; however, countries get involved for all kinds of reasons, good and bad, but Americans seem to be stuck on economic self-interest as the sole or overriding issue. But then again, I vaguely recall some people insisting that Vietnam must have oil or minerals, or the US would never have gone into that war.

  251. 251
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: i actually think Coles arguments are valid, except for this one.

    Does it change my opinion that we know literally nothing about the rebels who appear to be winning? No.

    either Americans believe in democracy or we don’t. we dont get to chose the next Libyan government.
    The Libyan people are going to elect it.

  252. 252
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @soonergrunt: Okay, thanks.

  253. 253
    Villago Delenda Est says:

    @Zifnab:

    Well, the fact is, Syria isn’t “oil rich”, either.

    Just as Bush I could not get excited about doing anything at all about Bosnia, he could get excited about Saddam invading Iraq.

    My big concern with Gulf War I, at least at first, was that Saddam wasn’t going to settle for annexing Kuwait (there’s a historical case that Kuwait should be considered part of, at least, the Mesopotamian portion of Iraq, ruled from Baghdad) but was going to drive on south to the Saudi oil fields along the Gulf. It was never like he was good friends with the Saudis, after all, even though they did support his long war with Iran, because, well, those Shiites are a problem for the Saudis.

    The fact of the matter was, Kuwait was separated from whatever administrative division of the Ottoman Empire was run from Baghdad long ago, and that historical claim was weak. Iraq, as created by the WWI peace treaties, had no claim on Kuwait. Then there was the “slant drilling” issue that precipitated the invasion, part of the general suite of disputes that Saddam discussed with April Glaspie, which led to, apparently, Saddam’s idea that the US wouldn’t object to him taking out Kuwait. This was a miscalculation, obviously, on Saddam’s part. Whether Glaspie intended that misinterpretation or not is irrelevant, the fact that Saddam thought he saw an opening is the problem…and given that US policy towards Saddam had been friendly for some time, to the point of Don Rumsfeld shaking hands with him as they passed on the chemical weapons Saddam used on rebellious parts of his own populace, well, gosh.

    The fact remains, Iraq is sitting on a lot of oil. So is Libya. Syria is not. Therefore the temptation to get involved is greater for the petroleum junkie West.

  254. 254
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    I find it amazing that the counter arguments against John Cole in this thread read almost literally like John Cole’s pro-Iraq war argument circa April 2003.

    Yes, because thumbing your nose at the UN and invading a country unilaterally is exactly the same thing as acting in a supporting role for a UN coalition run by the French. It’s all bombs, amirite?

  255. 255
    Samara Morgan says:

    @soonergrunt: you think i dont have any contributions?
    your and eemom’s hostility towards me dates back to the wikileaks afghan data dump, where i was RIGHT and you both were WRONG.

  256. 256
    Elie says:

    I am just puzzled that some would realistically think that a large, generally successful country such as the US, would just go about “its own business”, and that business would not relate to influencing events on this planet.

    Without a doubt, there are excesses of applying militaristic power and solutions, but we are indeed a superpower from a number of perspectives both economic, military and even politically as promoters of democratic approaches and government (yes, I know that there are some problems here, but in general, we do support democracy). We are also world leaders in environmental awareness and our American’s with Disability legislation is a model for the world. On the latter, if you doubt what I say on that, got around visiting the world. Not too many handicapped people can get around as easily as they can here (and its by no means perfect here). But we ARE leaders and we have influence. The war machine is just an extention of influence. Yes, I would prefer that this is used most carefully, but I think its idiotic to assume that our big and powerful country is just going to send “sternly worded letters” in some instances which require physical muscle or when we have to “show the stick” to make sure our values are taken seriously. What, you think we could be the United States without showing the stick, and that we could retain power and influence without that?

    Get real.

  257. 257
    Elie says:

    I am just puzzled that some would realistically think that a large, generally successful country such as the US, would just go about “its own business”, and that business would not relate to influencing events on this planet.

    Without a doubt, there are excesses of applying militaristic power and solutions, but we are indeed a superpower from a number of perspectives both economic, military and even politically as promoters of democratic approaches and government (yes, I know that there are some problems here, but in general, we do support democracy). We are also world leaders in environmental awareness and our American’s with Disability legislation is a model for the world. On the latter, if you doubt what I say on that, got around visiting the world. Not too many handicapped people can get around as easily as they can here (and its by no means perfect here). But we ARE leaders and we have influence. The war machine is just an extention of influence. Yes, I would prefer that this is used most carefully, but I think its idiotic to assume that our big and powerful country is just going to send “sternly worded letters” in some instances which require physical muscle or when we have to “show the stick” to make sure our values are taken seriously. What, you think we could be the United States without showing the stick, and that we could retain power and influence without that?

    Get real.

  258. 258
    Marc says:

    @Jinchi:

    It’s possible to learn the wrong lessons from a prior event, or to have it cause you to make bad analogies.

  259. 259
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    either Americans believe in democracy or we don’t.

    Americans don’t believe in democracy. They believe in what they perceive to be best for America. That could mean propping up a dictatorship or it could mean encouraging a democratic revolution.

  260. 260
    Belafon (formerly anonevent) says:

    @Jared:

    I think it’s important that people on the left come up with a coherent rationale for when to use military force and when not to

    Isn’t that like coming up with a coherent rationale for when it’s OK to kill? That’s why we have judges that issue warrents and cops that are trained to hopefully be able to judge when it’s necessary, and trials and juries to weigh afterwards whether it was justified because it’s hard to come up with a coherent rule.

    And some people, like those on the right, are going to do it no matter what rules are in place. And when Congress goes along with them…

  261. 261
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Dennis SGMM: Thanks for the correction.

    There is shit ton of difference between playing cop to the world and our role in Libya.

    And one may still criticize the size of military budget while supporting military action in this instance.

    What a silly suggestion!

  262. 262
    The Dangerman says:

    @Comrade Dread:

    Speculation to be sure, but if we’re going to make call backs to history, my speculations merit as much value as yours.

    Fair enough, but your point kinda supports my underlying premise; one size fits all doesn’t work, each case is separate and distinct. For example, we could do something in Libya; contrast that to Syria, which if we intervened, would appear to be a huge fucking mistake. Again, this call is from the cheap seats and people a whole lot smarter than I will make the call, but the absolutist position (no intervention, ever) is horseshit.

  263. 263
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: sad but true.
    that is what i mean about libertarians vis a vis American Foreign Policy, and indeed, domestic policy.
    FP resolves to Pax Americana, and domestic policy resolves to Distributed Jesusland™.

    >:(

  264. 264
    catclub says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): How much did you get kicked by other swimmers? ( and how many others did you kick?)
    I can imagine doing the swim and bike, but the run seems like it would be lacking in fun.

  265. 265
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @MattR: Yes, but in the long run, democracy seems a better choice.

    Isn’t this the beating heart of liberalism?

  266. 266
    chopper says:

    @Zifnab:

    true, but we intervened (not militarily, but we worked the backrooms) in egypt and they barely export shit for oil these days. course they still have gas.

  267. 267
    MattR says:

    @Virginia Highlander: Absolutely. Unfortunately our country will not do anything that causes pain in the short term even if it will lead to a better long term result.

  268. 268
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Elie:

    What, you think we could be the United States without showing the stick, and that we could retain power and influence without that?

    Yep, we showed those dirty Messicans the stick in 1848. Then we showed those filthy Spaniards the stick in 1898. Central America was shown the stick repeatedly in the years between 1900 and WWI. Fast forward and we showed, through the auspices of the CIA, the stick to Mohammed Mossadegh in Iran and then we showed the stick to Ho Chi Minh. While showing the stick to Uncle Ho we also showed the stick, again through the CIA, to Salvador Allende in Chile.

    Why didn’t you just quote Michael Ledeen?
    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

  269. 269
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @catclub: It was almost constant contact. I’m sure I made as much as I got but it made establishing any kind of consistent breathing impossible. I could get, at the most, a dozen freestyle stroke and then had to go breast or back. I had myself fooled that just because I swim a mile a day that I could breeze along. I was on a team with a friend and she did the other two events. I’m glad I did it and glad I wasn’t last.

  270. 270
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Sgt. Elias: What happened today was just the beginning. We’re gonna lose this war.
    Chris Taylor: Come on! You really think so? Us?
    Sgt. Elias: We’ve been kicking other peoples asses for so long I figured it’s time we got ours kicked.

  271. 271
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: heh. but Obama will.
    :)

  272. 272
    Danny says:

    @MattR:

    While you may want to hear this info from Cole, the lack of full foreign policy position does not automatically invalidate his criticisms of this particular intervention. Similarly, I don’t need to determine the exact set of conditions where police can use deadly force to know that shooting an unarmed child is not acceptable (I am not comparing Libya to an unarmed child, but pointing out that you can decide that something is bad without knowing exactly where the line from bad to acceptable is)

    Well, sure. But you have a consistent position of whether it’s ever acceptable to shoot an unarmed child, right? It wasn’t the case that you supported shooting unarmed children yesterday, but today you feel that last time got awfully bloody and your shoes were badly damaged in the process so you’ll have to sit this one out, but in the future: who knows? Because that’s Cole, if we allow your analogy. And furthermore, Cole doesnt really want to come out of the closet at all as being against shooting imaginary kids with metaphorical bullets. He’d rather get to pick and choose and opine a million unpersuasive reasons why shooting this particular kid is not the right thing to do, while committing to nothing w/r/t the future. E.g. “with our economic woes”…

    To be perfectly clear: my main problem with Cole is not that he supported Iraq or opposed Libya, even if I myself opposed Iraq and supported Libya. My gripe is that he allows himself to follow a gut feeling on what’s right, that has (imho) allowed him to get Iraq wrong, Libya wrong – and tomorrow who knows what – in an unpredictable way.

    I think it’s reasonable to ask people who opt to engage in punditry to have a reasonably consistent position on matters of policy that they opine about. Call me crazy.

    Cole, like much opposition on the left, has an assorted laundry list of shifting justifications for being against Libya. But his stance in particular pretty much looks like “Enough with the wars, any wars, for any reason, any way, any how. For now. But, hey, tomorrow, who knows?” to me. That doesnt inspire a great deal of confidence in his future judgement.

  273. 273
    MattR says:

    @Samara Morgan: Nice dream, but need I remind you that political realties tend to intrude (see closing of Guantanimo, expiration of Bush tax cuts, etc)

  274. 274
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Virginia Highlander:
    Do you think that our intervention would have been possible if we didn’t more than half of the military hardware in the world? You approve of our intervention and that’s fine; the arguments on either side are compelling. My POV is that the world, particularly the developed nations, either needs to equip itself to deal with instances like this or decide to stay on the sidelines. “Let’s you and him fight,” is becoming unaffordable and it leads to us being the bad guy and/or the chump when things don’t pan out.

  275. 275
    kay says:

    Congress acts, strongly, decisively and with absolutely no hesitancy to limit other areas of executive power. Strange and inexplicable, that.

    Guantanamo is the best example. Arguably, there, they were encroaching on executive power, yet, oddly enough, they acted.

    Congress had all the power they needed to limit Obama’s (or any Presidential) action on Libya or any other engagement. They carefully and deliberately did not and will not pick it up.

    Congress left a void and the President, any President, stepped into it. Understandably and inevitably.

    All they have to do is do their job. Then it won’t matter if it’s a President Obama or a President Palin, because there will be a functioning legislative branch who do not duck their constitutional duty, or pretend they don’t have all the power they need. They do. They have every tool they need. Now, just like they always did.

    This President (or any President) didn’t take it away. It’s still there. They abandoned it. I have absolutely no sympathy for them, just like I had no sympathy for Democrats in Congress who insisted Bush had taken something when, you know, he didn’t. They gave it to him.

  276. 276
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    Why didn’t you just quote Michael Ledeen?
    “Every ten years or so, the United States needs to pick up some small crappy little country and throw it against the wall, just to show the world we mean business.”

    And the fact that, worst case scenario, all we did was hold France’s coat while they did the throwing means that this is just like Iraq?

  277. 277
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    We don’t have a problem with Western countries like the Italians, French and UK companies. But we may have some political issues with Russia, China and Brazil,” Abdeljalil Mayouf, information manager at Libyan rebel oil firm AGOCO, told Reuters.

  278. 278
    Jared says:

    @Belafon (formerly anonevent):

    Isn’t that like coming up with a coherent rationale for when it’s OK to kill?

    Yes it’s exactly like that. Didn’t Dukakis or somebody get owned in a debate because he didn’t have one? Over some hypothetical like what would you do if somebody was about to do something horrible to your wife an children.

    WHAT WOULD YOU DO!! /Byron York

  279. 279
    Samara Morgan says:

    @MattR: heh. early times, dude, early times.
    Unlike Kuchisake-onna , who does what she WANTS, Obama does what he CAN.
    hes the stealth president.
    :)

  280. 280
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Mnemosyne:
    Funny, I didn’t mention Iraq, did I? Iraq isn’t Vietnam and Libya isn’t Iraq. Buying into someone else’s civil war is, to my mind, a bad idea because whoever wins we’re on the hook for the consequences. If you want to champion a heroically humanitarian president authorizing the delivery of heroically humanitarian ordnance on a country that didn’t attack us that’s up to you.

  281. 281
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Mnemosyne: yup, France brought the rain first, but we brought it best.
    :)

  282. 282
    MattR says:

    @Danny:

    Well, sure. But you have a consistent position of whether it’s ever acceptable to shoot an unarmed child, right? It wasn’t the case that you supported shooting unarmed children yesterday, but today you feel that last time got awfully bloody and your shoes were badly damaged in the process so you’ll have to sit this one out, but in the future: who knows? Because that’s Cole, if we allow your analogy.

    I knew that someone would harp on the idea that I was saying Libya was the unarmed child even though I explicitly said that was not my intention. The situation in Libya is much more muddled and would give the policeman in our analogy a reason to think he might be in danger.

    But that ignores the point I was making – you don’t need to have a clearly defined line in the sand to form an opinion that something is on one side of that line or the other. And to add to what Belafon (formerly anonevent) said above, some things are so complicated that it is impossible to draw a clear line so all we can do is evaluate each situation independently (which includes taking into account the state of our nation at the time as part of that analysis)

  283. 283
    Bill says:

    Doesn’t celebrating at this point feel a bit like a “Mission Accomplished” moment?

    I think I’ll wait to see how things shake out in Libya.

  284. 284
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):
    Imagine my delight in showing up at NSAD binh Thuy, (then) RVN in 1971 and realizing that we’d already lost.

  285. 285
    Raven (formerly stuckinred) says:

    @Dennis SGMM: We were winnin when I left! (snark)

    Me an JK were trying our best to get you outta that place.

  286. 286
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Dennis SGMM: jaysus you are thick.
    we didnt deliver ordnance on humans, we delivered ordnance on hardware.
    we are relly fucking good at that now.
    see through clouds, see in the dark, see through the ground.
    its not like droning carbon-based organisms in Waziristan, dumbshit.

  287. 287
    NobodySpecial says:

    I love this victory. Smells of ‘Major hostilities have ceased.’

  288. 288
    Samara Morgan says:

    LOLLLOLOL!

    “We are no closer to finding a means by which Gaddafi would be forced to ‘go’ than we were four months ago.” – Daniel Larison, July 27th.

    he and Cole should form a club.
    :)

  289. 289
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred): did you guys evah work with the spooky vision labs?

    light out of darkness

  290. 290
    Bago says:

    @catclub: Libya Libya Libya .nakedchicks.com

    Boomhauer be praised. Mike judge, also.

  291. 291
    Keith G says:

    @Bruce S:

    This turned out to have been good policy. More often than not, good policy is determined by how it turns out. The bin Laden kill could have become a minor disaster. No assurances

    I find it interesting to see all the folks who need (must have) assurances – assurances that our actions will meet some unrealistically pure and bloodless standard and assurances that no group of idiots will do stupid things in some unknown future:

    ..this example will be used to kill tens, even hundreds of thousands of brown/black people in the future that live under scum who control oil

    The silly burns.

    And yes folks, we do not know how the people of Libya will use this chance, buy they have been allowed to earn a chance. Operating on the fly, Obama made a tough call and it seems like it was a good one. (How’s that, Elie?)

  292. 292
    Danny says:

    @MattR:

    I knew that someone would harp on the idea that I was saying Libya was the unarmed child even though I explicitly said that was not my intention. The situation in Libya is much more muddled and would give the policeman in our analogy a reason to think he might be in danger.

    I allowed your analogy exactly on the terms you laid out, e.g. as a moral position someone might legitimately hold without having written a book on justice and law enforcement. I tried it out on Cole and his past positions and showed that he still doesn’t look good.

    But that ignores the point I was making – you don’t need to have a clearly defined line in the sand to form an opinion that something is on one side of that line or the other.

    Hey, you don’t need anything much at all to form an opinion. Any old hick in some neck of the woods can do that. And yet, we don’t consider all opinions equally persuasive, do we? And consistency and what guiding principles were used to arrive at an opinion are things we like to have a look at in order to decide if we think that someone’s opinion is persuasive in some matter. If you stop and think about it, I’m sure you’ll find that you agree with that when considering many other issues.

    And to add to what Belafon (formerly anonevent) said above, some things are so complicated that it is impossible to draw a clear line so all we can do is evaluate each situation independently (which includes taking into account the state of our nation at the time as part of that analysis)

    Hey, life is complicated. But how could it be that something is simple enough for you to have an opinion about it that we have to consider serious and noteworthy, yet too complex for us to ask that your opinion be derived from some set of guiding principles? Without guiding principles your opinion is all gut feeling, and fair game to be criticized as such.

  293. 293

    I agree with the other J. Cole.

    I have taken a lot of heat for my support of the revolution and of the United Nations-authorized intervention by the Arab League and NATO that kept it from being crushed. I haven’t taken nearly as much heat as the youth of Misrata who fought off Qaddafi’s tank barrages, though, so it is OK. I hate war, having actually lived through one in Lebanon, and I hate the idea of people being killed. My critics who imagined me thrilling at NATO bombing raids were just being cruel. But here I agree with President Obama and his citation of Reinhold Niebuhr. You can’t protect all victims of mass murder everywhere all the time. But where you can do some good, you should do it, even if you cannot do all good. I mourn the deaths of all the people who died in this revolution, especially since many of the Qaddafi brigades were clearly coerced (they deserted in large numbers as soon as they felt it safe). But it was clear to me that Qaddafi was not a man to compromise, and that his military machine would mow down the revolutionaries if it were allowed to.

    http://www.juancole.com/

  294. 294
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Raven (formerly stuckinred):

    Sometimes the simple things are the most memorable ones. I still recall my absolute delight at sitting in the freedom bird at Ton San Nhut and wiggling my fingers and toes – just because they were still there to wiggle.

  295. 295
    Marc says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I’d certainly like to see a world where our military is drastically pruned and other institutions have to deal with Libya-like situations. In the world as it is, however, we do have that position. We’re also a member of some important international alliances, and refusing to join collective efforts has consequences. Anything that we do costs lives.

    And I call bullshit on all of the rhetoric by others on this thread about how it’s mission accomplished yada yada yada. I like Cole’s approach better: he doesn’t pretend that there is some outcome that would make him change his mind. The people bitching here would never agree that intervening was a correct decision – either because they’d never agree to intervening, or because they’d never admit that Obama did anything correctly.

  296. 296
    Elie says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I don’t think I appreciate how you are characterizing what I said. I do not and did not advocate for the US behaving as an unfettered bully. I acknowledge that at different points we have and I do not support those instances nor want that sort of decision making behind our policies.

    That said, if you are charged with the safety and security of the American people, do you just stay hunkered down behind our borders and hope that our influence just magically happens and only in good works such as building hospitals and feeding starving people? Do you think that some of our success as an economic and socio-political actor is indeed because we can protect and assert our interests? Where does the line exist between being a peaceful protector of our interests and having to assert our power to protect those and those of weaker people in this world? Is that someone else’s job, Dennis?

    I am not a leftist ideologue like you so I don’t have “rules” that always apply no matter what. If my folks are starving, or need water, I am going to make sure I do what I can to get them what they need to survive. Obviously, the US is not in that situation, but it has a responsibility to its people to safeguard their interests. Our leadership makes some good calls and some really bad ones also. We aint in heaven and if we keep our political process intact and working, we should be able to remove those from power who abuse their mandate. That is why its so important to have our government work.

  297. 297
    Jared says:

    @Bill:
    Nah, they had no chance 6 months ago, now they have some chance. Its worth celebrating now. Thats why they’re celebrating now. Its a genuine win and they have every right to spike the football regardless of what happens tomorrow. The West didn’t exactly take a linear path to democracy but I bet there were plenty of days like these.
    Shit! We’re winning! What now? ……. +8 (non alcoholic beverages)

    Also I predicted 500 comments yesterday and its not gonna happen unless I bring up whats going on in Israel/Palestine

  298. 298
    Elie says:

    @Keith G:

    LOL! Me likee!

    thanks Keith

  299. 299
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Marc: but Cole is irrational.

    Does it change my opinion that we know literally nothing about the rebels who appear to be winning? No.

    does he or doesn’t he (believe in democracy)?
    we dont get to choose/shape/influence the government of a democratic society.

  300. 300
    Virginia Highlander says:

    @Dennis SGMM: You are going to have an extremely hard time proving that the weak military forces of foreign nations is a direct cause of our own militaristic culture and bloated military budget.

  301. 301
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jared:

    Also I predicted 500 comments yesterday and its not gonna happen unless I bring up whats going on in Israel/Palestine

    whats going on in Israel/Palestine?

    approach to Kralizec, she says helpfully.

  302. 302
    Jared says:

    @Elie: @Dennis SGMM:
    The Powell Doctrine…has fairly simple, non-ideological rules…can you do better? Only Obots have even tried so far.

  303. 303
    Keith G says:

    @gocart mozart: Thanks for the link. I do hate being snippy, but it is quite clear that some here can not deal with the type of super defined nuance that Juan Cole was using.

    You can’t protect all victims of mass murder everywhere all the time. But where you can do some good, you should do it, even if you cannot do all good.

  304. 304
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Elie:

    I am going to make sure I do what I can to get them what they need to survive. Obviously, the US is not in that situation, but it has a responsibility to its people to safeguard their interests. Our leadership makes some good calls and some really bad ones also.

    soooo…..how do you feel about the price of gas, and US support for KSA?

  305. 305
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jared: im an Obot then?
    what would you do in Iraq, as a presumeable non-Obot.

    remember, time travel to the past is impossible, because of closedform timecurves.
    your only options are withdraw or not-withdraw.

  306. 306
    Elie says:

    @Jared:

    Yes, I agree that the Powell doctrine makes some sense. that said, I don’t think that there is probably one all encompassing “doctrine” that allows for every eventuality. There may be other arguments/approaches at other times that would be applicable…

  307. 307
    John Cole says:

    What in Sam Hill does the fucking Powell doctrine have to do with what just happened in Libya?

  308. 308
    Elie says:

    @Samara Morgan:

    I think that we have had a policy in this government to under price gasoline. this is a big problem but we also have another “mistake” that contributes to the necessity for cheap gas: we are a huge country and rather than developing in concentrated urban footprint, we are spread to hell and gone. Its gonna be a bitch figuring out how to reel our spread out nature back in to accomplish better environmental and energy policy, but here we are…

    The world as it is. We have to solve the problems we have in the world as we find it and do the best we can to make ourselves safe but also good world citizens.

  309. 309
    Danny says:

    @John Cole:

    We’re trying to trick you to come out in support of some set of guiding principles w/r/t when foreign intervention is warranted and when it’s not. Don’t fall for it.

  310. 310
    Keith G says:

    @John Cole:I’ll play:

    Sensible ideas developed by African Americans.

    Okay, it was weak, but it’s all I had.

    Edit: I meant to add – That do not apply to all circumstances.

  311. 311
    Tractarian says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    What’s driving me and some others here nuts is that your stance (and Cole’s) don’t seem to allow for any possibility of interim steps

    Guess you didn’t read the last sentence of my post.

    It’s complicated, to say the least. Which is why you can’t take ideological stands on these sorts of things.

    Or my previous one.

    That said, I’m glad we have a president who doesn’t act on impulse or knee-jerk reactions but rather coldly evaluates each situation as it presents itself.

  312. 312
    Jared says:

    @John Cole:
    Nothing. It has plenty to do with what happened 6 months ago. And your general rules for humanitarian intervention, which I’ve been trying to pin down. Partly because this is my favorite blog and I’m curious. And partly because you’re former Republican AND former military so you have fairly unique insight (so does Dennis). Its as interesting as the Schiavo thing because of the thought processes involved.

    ETA: So yeah basically what Danny said

    ETA2: Keith too, why not

  313. 313

    @John Cole:
    I don’t know. I would say it is irrelevant. It may apply in the future in some other scenario and was certainly violated in the Iraq War. I guess some are looking for a grand unifying “Cole Doctrine” to cover your future war punditry.

    Me, I don’t care. My question is, have you read the other Cole’s thoughts on the Libya matter and what is your response?

  314. 314
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @Elie:

    I am just puzzled that some would realistically think that a large, generally successful country such as the US, would just go about “its own business”, and that business would not relate to influencing events on this planet.

    Translation – Al qaeda’s realistic attempt to influence events on this planet was wrong because they were not a generally successful country. If 9-11 were perpetrated by President Obama, that would be fine.
    .
    .

  315. 315

    Thought for the day: “A foolish consistency is the hobgoblin of little minds.”

  316. 316
    Danny says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    I think the standard charge against Al Qaeda is that they subscribe to the notion that targeting and killing civilians (with premeditation) is right and just as long as it’s done in pursuit of their desired goals.

  317. 317
    Jared says:

    @gocart mozart:
    Can I also request a Tunch Doctrine, while we’re on the subject?

  318. 318
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jared: dont forget me.
    ive been whining about Humanitarian Interventionism and Right-to-Protect for six months now.
    :)

  319. 319
    Sloegin says:

    I’m nearly just as thrilled now as when the plucky rebels kicked the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

    However, now I’m older and realize that the result could be just as bad as when the plucky rebels kicked the Soviet Union out of Afghanistan.

  320. 320
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @Danny:

    I think the standard charge against Al Qaeda is that they subscribe to the notion that targeting and killing civilians (with premeditation) is right and just as long as it’s done in pursuit of their desired goals.

    You’re right. I think they call it “Shock and Awe,” or “hiroshimanagasaki” in their native language, I forget.
    .
    .

  321. 321
    Jinchi says:

    Jared @237

    I think it’s important that people on the left come up with a coherent rationale for when to use military force and when not to

    Rule Number 1: Do not get involved in other people’s civil wars.

  322. 322
    Danny says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    Say what you will about Dubya but are you saying that he pursued a policy of targeting civilians with premeditation in Iraq? That’s not a serious position re: Iraqi Freedom, because it aint true.

    I’ll grant you that Hiroshima and Nagasaki is arguable, though. And that’s why the decision to drop the bomb remains controversial, and why we haven’t been doing that since.

  323. 323
    birthmarker says:

    @Sloegin: I see what you did there…

  324. 324
    soonergrunt says:

    @Samara Morgan: In what drug-addled world have you ever been right about anything except accidentally?
    That’s never happened around here.

  325. 325
    buermann says:

    “we are not, as the administration asserted, engaged in hostilities? No. I still think that is laughable, perhaps one of the dumbest things I have ever heard, and will be used by future administrations for less “noble” pursuits. “

    To be fair Obama is just borrowing these laughable assertions from any number of his predecessors. An undeclared, unauthorized, unjustifiable military intervention like this is simply par for the course.

  326. 326
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    Not even in the case of a one sided Holocaust/Ethnic Cleansing type situation? Where we might be able to help? There have been plenty of those in our lifetime…

    If you say yes I will admire your honesty.

    ETA: Thanks for having the balls to discuss it

  327. 327
    Samara Morgan says:

    @soonergrunt: i right about Qaddafi going.
    and i was right about Kain.
    i was right about the wikileaks A-stan document dump. :)
    and you and eemom were WRONG.
    hahaha
    :)

    oh, and Assange and Bradley Manning– wrong should be your middle name sooner.

  328. 328
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Which would have allowed Iraqi Freedom but kept us from supporting the rebels in Libya (if we consider that a “civil war”)… Looks like a stupid rule to me. And this is exactly why it’s a useful exercise to get guiding principles on the record.

  329. 329
    Jinchi says:

    @Jared:

    Not even in the case of a one sided Holocaust/Ethnic Cleansing type situation?

    Genocide is not the same thing as a civil war.

  330. 330
    Jinchi says:

    Which would have allowed Iraqi Freedom but kept us from supporting the rebels in Libya (if we consider that a “civil war”)

    I don’t remember adding a rule that “allowed” for anything in particular at all. And if you don’t consider the recent fight in Libya a civil war, then I don’t know what you think a civil war is.

  331. 331
    Jared says:

    Ok maybe not plenty, definitely *some* though.

  332. 332
    Jared says:

    Where’s the tipping point between losing a civil war and a genocide anyway?

  333. 333
  334. 334
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Applying that rule to Iraq we find that there was no civil war when we invaded, so your rule – considered in isolation – would not have helped guide us to opposing Iraqi Freedom. That was the implication, nothing else.

    Your rule would have prevented our current course of action re: Libya, if we agree with you that Libya was to be considered a “civil war” when we intervened. (E.g. Juan Cole does not agree, see #5)

  335. 335
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Under your rule, what would have been appropriate action re: Rwanda?

  336. 336
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    I can’t, I’m not that old and I quit history when I was 15. Weren’t there any more ‘Bosnias’ in Latin America or Africa? Why did Clinton go to Africa anyway? I only saw the trailer for Black Hawk Down.

  337. 337
    Jinchi says:

    @Danny:

    That was the implication, nothing else.

    Nonsense. The rule, in isolation, says nothing at all about whether we should have gone to war in Iraq or Zimbabwe or Poland or anywhere else. It simply says we shouldn’t get involved in someone else’s civil war.

    As for Juan Cole’s position, he qualifies: “It was not [a civil war], if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic“. Please show me where, other than in his self-serving post, anyone has ever used that definition for a civil war.

  338. 338
    Amir Khalid says:

    @Danny:
    To add to your answer to Powell’s question one: the authority of UNSC, of which the US is a permanent member, and for that matter of the UN as a whole, is surely in itself a vital national security interest for the US. The US doesn’t need to be the lead actor in everything that happens here on Earth, and indeed it shouldn’t be. Whether a needful thing in world affairs happens or not shouldn’t depend on whether it’s in US interests or inclination to make/let it happen.

    For what it’s worth, my own take on this is that Obama made the right call: US intervention at about the right level, and not as the lead actor. Whatever John McCain and his significant other might say, US didn’t lose any prestige by not being the boss of this action, or by not being more aggressive. In fact, helping achieve international consensus on the right action, and then playing the right role in that action, is good for US credibility in world affairs.

    Now it looks like events on the ground will more or less vindicate Obama’s action. Which is great. But the success of the rebellion was always up to the rebels, as it should have been. It would have been heartbreaking had the rebels failed. But I don’t see how their failure would have invalidated the international community’s calculation that the right thing to do was protecting them from Qaddafi’s air strikes.

    The issues with Congressional approval strike me as very much an instance of its current hyper-partisan “If Obama says yes, we say no” attitude. The only real solution to that is the election of saner people in 2012.

  339. 339
    Jared says:

    Wikipedia probably has a page on Ethnic Cleansing, Civil Wars and Genocides in world history, back in a minute.

  340. 340
    Jinchi says:

    @Danny:

    what would have been appropriate action re: Rwanda?

    The fact that both you and Jared keep trying to steer this discussion back towards genocide, suggests that you can’t defend the Libyan action on it’s merits.

    But in any case, remind me what actual policy decided was the appropriate action re: Rwanda.

  341. 341
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    And if you don’t consider the recent fight in Libya a civil war, then I don’t know what you think a civil war is.

    A civil war is when one faction tries to break off and fails. A revolution is when that faction succeeds.

    Looks to me like we have a revolution here, not a civil war. Or do revolutions not exist in your world and every intra-country fight is a civil war?

  342. 342
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Virginia Highlander:

    Read again; I was saying that the weak militaries are not a cause, they’re an effect.

  343. 343
    Mnemosyne says:

    @buermann:

    An undeclared,

    Except by the UN

    unauthorized,

    Except by the UN

    unjustifiable

    Except by the UN

    military intervention like this is simply par for the course.

    So I take it that you do not recognize our treaty with the UN and think that any action we take in concert with them or in concert with any of our treaty allies like NATO is automatically illegitimate?

  344. 344
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Nonsense. The rule, in isolation, says nothing at all about whether we should have gone to war in Iraq or Zimbabwe or Poland or anywhere else. It simply says we shouldn’t get involved in someone else’s civil war.

    Well, yes. It says nothing about whether we should have gone to war in Iraq or not. That was my point. Iraq has cost us dearly. Iraq was a misguided war. Libya hasn’t cost us dearly, as far as we know at this point. Your rule says nothing about the former, but rules out the latter. I’d like to see guiding principles that prevents us from making stupid decisions; Iraq being the most recent example of a stupid decision.

    As for Juan Cole’s position, he qualifies: “It was not [a civil war], if by that is meant a fight between two big groups within the body politic“. Please show me where, other than in his self-serving post, anyone has ever used that definition for a civil war.

    I didn’t say that I necessarily subscribe to Cole’s position. I alluded to the possibility that there may be disagreement whether Libya should be considered as having been in a state of “civil war” when we intervened, and then I offered Juan Cole as an example of someone who disagrees.

    But just for sports: Should the Revolutionary War be considered a British civil war, or shouldn’t it?

  345. 345
    Jinchi says:

    A civil war is when one faction tries to break off and fails.

    Uh, no. But if you think a war is bad if it’s called a civil war and good if it’s called a revolution, then I think you’re more interested in doublespeak than in any substantive debate.

  346. 346
    Dennis SGMM says:

    @Elie:

    Your use of the phrase “show then the stick” invited the characterization of your remarks. As for being a “leftist ideologue,” I’m a goddamned Democrat and I have been since I cast my first ballot more than forty years ago. Unlike many of today’s Democrats, I believe that certain things are not negotiable. If that annoys you then get the estimable cleek’s pie filter and put my nick in.

  347. 347
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    We’re not talking Libya, we’re talking about the usefulness of your proposed rule. Or is that rule only meant to apply to Libya and nowhere else? Well then it’s no rule, it’s just a convenient pretext to oppose Libya.

    But you’re free to qualify your rule in any way you like, e.g. if you want to go with “Rule Number 1: Do not get involved in other people’s civil wars if they’re in Libya“, or “Rule Number 1: Do not get involved in other people’s civil wars except in Rwanda” – by all means, knock yourself out.

  348. 348
    worn says:

    @El Cid: Having not read any of the Wikileaks material, this comment is interesting to me in that it flies in the face of my (admittedly) meager knowledge of the region’s history.

    To wit: my father is (was) a lifelong newspaperman. And I remember his reaction to the “this was unexpected” handwringing back in late ’90 that accompanied Iraq’s invasion of Kuwait, which was essentially that no one should be surprised that Iraq had been threatening to do it for years. And I believed him, for he – on factual matters – always seemed to school me. Badly.

    But the funny thing was that about a year later I found myself helping a friend clean up/out his grandparent’s house up in N Georgia and stumbled upon a 1961 Newsweek mixed among the stuff on a coffee table. And a story therein told of Iraq’s then-current threat invade Kuwait, not the oil fields, but the entire country. My memory is that the Iraqi threats were supported by claims there was no historical basis for the existence of a separate nation state of Kuwait. The real reason for the sabre-rattling had more to do with the British-drawn borders of the two countries denying Iraq a viable seaport IMHO. They apparently weren’t too happy at their 35 miles of marshy access to the Persian Gulf.

    Nothing I’ve said above necessarily contradicts what you’re recollecting, though it seems the truth (or worse, wisdom) Glaspie’s claims might merit some further consideration, given the contentious history of that little slice of desert sand.

    *I may be a little off here in that I’m trying to quickly paraphrase a news article I read 20 years ago, but I think the basic outline is sound…

  349. 349
    Jinchi says:

    I’d like to see guiding principles that prevents us from making stupid decisions; Iraq being the most recent example of a stupid decision.

    Sounds like you’re moving the goalposts here. What exactly is your guiding principle that prevents us from making all stupid decisions?

    I alluded to the possibility that there may be disagreement whether Libya should be considered as having been in a state of “civil war” when we intervened, and then I offered Juan Cole as someone who disagrees.

    And he redefined the term to suit his argument. It’s not a civil war if you accept Juan Cole’s redefinition. But nobody uses that definition. It’s a straw man.

  350. 350
    Jared says:

    Well that was depressing, here’s the list of post-WW2 civil wars. I’m guessing more than 3 of them went badly and were preventable and lives would have been saved with some type of intervention. The merits of why they started don’t actually appear in the Powell Doctrine. Should they?

    Greek Civil War, 1946–1949
    Paraguayan Civil War, 1947
    Palestinian Civil War, 1947–48
    Costa Rican Civil War, 1948
    La Violencia, 1948–1958
    Korean War, 1950-1953 between North and South Korea
    Laotian Secret War 1953-1975
    Vietnamese Civil War, 1954–1975
    Guatemalan Civil War, 1960–1996
    Congo Crisis, 1960-1966
    North Yemen Civil War 1962-1970
    Dominican Civil War, 1963
    Rhodesian Bush War, 1965–1980
    Cypriot Civil War, 1967–1974
    Nigerian Civil War, 1967–1970
    The Troubles, 1969–1998 (considered ongoing by extremist minority groups)
    Cambodian Civil War 1970-1975
    Pakistani Civil War, 1971
    Lebanese Civil War, 1975–1990
    Mozambican Civil War, see Rome General Peace Accords, 1975–1992
    Angolan Civil War, 1975-2002
    Cambodia, 1978–1993, 1997–1998
    Nicaraguan Civil War, 1979–1990
    Salvadoran Civil War (El Salvador), 1979–1991
    Peruvian Civil War, 1980–2000
    Second Sudanese Civil War, 1983-2005
    Sri Lankan Civil War, 1983–2009
    First Liberian Civil War, 1989-1996
    Rwandan Civil War, 1990–1993
    Casamance Conflict, 1990–2006
    Georgian Civil War, 1991-1993
    Sierra Leone Civil War, 1991–2002
    Algerian Civil War, 1991–2002, conflicts persist
    Civil war in Tajikistan, 1992-1997
    Burundi Civil War, 1993–2005
    Civil war in Yemen, 1994
    First Chechen War, 1994-1996
    Iraqi Kurdish Civil War, 1994–1997
    First Congo War, 1996–1997
    Republic of the Congo Civil War, 1997-1999 in Congo-Brazzaville
    Nepalese Civil War, 1996–2006 labelled “People’s War” by the Maoists
    1997 rebellion in Albania, 1997
    Republic of the Congo Civil War, 1997-1999
    Guinea-Bissau Civil War, 1998–1999
    Kosovo War, 1998–1999
    Second Congo War, 1998-2003
    Second Liberian Civil War, 1999-2003
    Second Chechen War, 1999-2009
    Albanian rebellion in Macedonia 2001
    Ivorian Civil War, 2002-2007, conflicts persist
    War in Darfur, 2003-2009
    2004 Haitian rebellion, 2004
    Fatah–Hamas conflict (third Palestinian Civil War), 2006–2009, tensions ongoing

  351. 351
    Jinchi says:

    We’re not talking Libya

    Have you looked at the title of this post yet?

    Or is that rule only meant to apply to Libya

    Since the word “Libya” is not in the rule, I would have thought it was obviously not meant to apply only to Libya. It’s meant to apply to other people’s civil wars.

  352. 352
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    How about this for a rule: Sovereign nations should be allowed to settle their differences with anything except genocide.

  353. 353
    Mnemosyne says:

    @Jinchi:

    Uh, no. But if you think a war is bad if it’s called a civil war and good if it’s called a revolution, then I think you’re more interested in doublespeak than in any substantive debate.

    No, I think a “successful” civil war is a revolution. I put “successful” in quotes because you can always debate whether or not the revolution in, say, Cuba or Vietnam was an actual improvement over the status quo, but to say that they were just “civil wars” vastly underestimates the upheaval to their respective countries.

    If you disagree with my definition of “revolution” and you disagree with Prof. Cole’s definition, please provide your definition and explain how it differs from a civil war.

  354. 354
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @Danny:

    Say what you will about Dubya but are you saying that he pursued a policy of targeting civilians with premeditation in Iraq?

    Of course not. That was just a predictable accident, as I’m sure you’ll grant me. Everybody knows it is very common for a million civilians to die accidentally. They even have a term for it – “collateral damage,” and the U.S. position is, it’s all good because it’s sadly necessary.

    I’ll grant you that Hiroshima and Nagasaki is arguable, though. And that’s why the decision to drop the bomb remains controversial, and why we haven’t been doing that since.

    Al qaeda hasn’t been doing more 9-11s either, but if they wanted to they easily could. The U.S. hasn’t done it a third time (the second one was “doing it again”) because it hasn’t felt it was sadly necessary, not because it was “controversial” or “bad press.” And we use MOABs nowadays anyway.
    .
    .

  355. 355
    Danny says:

    Sounds like you’re moving the goalposts here.

    Me asking to see some guiding principles means that I can’t have an opinion on whether a certain guiding principle is useful, without me having moved the goalposts? Don’t think so.

    What exactly is your guiding principle that prevents us from making all stupid decisions?

    There are (trivially) no guiding principles that prevents us from making “all stupid decisions”.

    On foreign intervention: I’m e.g. in favor of working within the UN framework and requiring reasonable consensus within the global community that there are either humanitarian reasons for intervention or a credible threat to regional or global stability and a UNSC resolution authorizing intervention. The justification for subscribing to that principle is that a requirement of reasonable global consensus lowers the risk that action is taken in pursuit of some narrow national interest, humanitarian reasons only being a pretext. There’s smaller probability that we underestimate the potential fallout, since more nations than one or two has to agree on the action being wise. There are shared stakes, shared risk, and shared costs.

    Obama appealed to that guiding principle (and others) in his speech were he explained his decision to participate in the UN intervention in Libya.

  356. 356
    Jinchi says:

    @Jared:

    I’m guessing more than 3 of them went badly and were preventable and lives would have been saved with some type of intervention.

    Well, pretty much all of them went badly, considering that they were civil wars. And if you look closely, you’ll notice that many of them did involve “some type of intervention”, (which I assume must be a euphemism for military hostilites), some of them even by the United States, and they went badly all the same.

    Cambodia, Laos, Vietnam, El Salvador, Nicaragua, did we help or hurt there? And whose side should we have taken in the Alabanian rebellion or the Pakistani civil war?

    BTW you seem to have missed the Afghan civil war (1978-present). How did our intervention there go?

  357. 357
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Now you’re just opting to bob and weave rather than defend your silly rule. You say the rule is supposed to apply to other people’s civil wars. We’re asking you to apply it to Rwanda. Time to walk the walk, buddy.

  358. 358
    Jared says:

    @Dennis SGMM:
    Which is the principle that you believe is non-negotiable in this case?

  359. 359
    Danny says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    Targeting civilians and predictably causing civilians to be killed is not the same thing, leaving aside any other feelings on both practices. Granted?

  360. 360
    Uncle Clarence Thomas says:

    .
    .
    @Danny:

    Targeting civilians and predictably causing civilians to be killed is not the same thing, leaving aside any other feelings on both practices. Granted?

    I’ll grant you that both approaches can be summarized as, “We’re going to kill civilians.” In both approaches, civilian death is a known certainty before the decision is made to pull the trigger.
    .
    .

  361. 361
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    Yep you’re right. This is where rules 2 and 3 of the Powell doctrine come into play. That part is *difficult* and you might not have the time to make a perfect decision.

    2. Do we have a clear attainable objective?
    3. Have the risks and costs been fully and frankly analyzed?

    I’m not ready to discard it without having something *better*. Which is why I’m talking to you. I’d like to have a Leftier Doctrine which takes into account real world examples and doesn’t offend the world community/Libyans. How did you like my formulation of the Jinchi Doctrine?

    Sovereign nations should be allowed to settle their differences with anything except genocide.

  362. 362
    Jinchi says:

    @Mnemosyne:

    No, I think a “successful” civil war is a revolution.

    Okay, so you think a revolution is the outcome of a successful civil war. @341 you wrote that “a civil war is when one faction tries to break off and fails“, which is a bit different. So I think my rule still works as a general guide for when to intervene.

  363. 363
    Danny says:

    @Uncle Clarence Thomas:

    Well no it’s not a known certainty, after all AQ could have failed on 9/11. Anyway, by analogy, is it your position then that the penal code should consider all predictable deaths murder one?

  364. 364
    Omnes Omnibus says:

    @Amir Khalid: Well said, sir.

  365. 365
    Keith G says:

    Jinchi, Jared et al:

    Part of the problem is that the terms: civil war, revolution and even rebellion have become squishy terms of art in their modern usage. One reason for this is that societies are not as static and as clearly delineated as in past times.

    Can there be a revolution without an autocracy from which to rebel? Are there sub categories of civil wars?

  366. 366
    Jinchi says:

    @Danny:

    We’re asking you to apply it to Rwanda. Time to walk the walk, buddy.

    I’ve already answered the point on Rwanda. Genocide is not civil war. Nobody ever refers to the Holocaust as the “German civil war” and nobody thought that Lincoln intended to slaughter every man, woman and child in the Confederate South. If it’s not obvious to you that the terms are different, then I can’t help you.

    Mind you, you still haven’t answered the question yourself. Clinton didn’t send troops to Rwanda. The whole thing happened in just over 3 months. We didn’t even give military aid to the Tutsi minority, in part because they’d been accused of genocide against the rival Hutu.

    So what’s the Danny doctrine in that case?

  367. 367
    Samara Morgan says:

    @Jinchi: didnt you read my quotes?
    we had NO INTEREST in Rwanda.
    America is only interested in oil and white people.

  368. 368
    Jinchi says:

    @Jared:

    How did you like my formulation of the Jinchi Doctrine?

    I think it shows an astounding lack of reading comprehension.

    Do not get involved in other people’s civil wars.

    Seems pretty self explanatory to me. But maybe I wasn’t clear that I was talking about military involvement. So rephrase it if you prefer.

    Do not fight another man’s civil war.

    Is that more clear?

  369. 369
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Well, leaving Rwanda aside, the concepts of civil wars and genocide are not mutually exclusive. That is the larger point. Assuming for the sake of argument that we’re faced with a civil war where a genocide is taking place, are we allowed to intervene?

    W/r/t my position on Rwanda, I think the Rwandan Genocide neatly illustrates a drawback of the guiding principle I outlined in a previous post (working with the global community and the UN to decide when humanitarian intervention is warranted). That drawback being that the global community may not be able to reach reasonable consensus quickly enough to intervene, even when we find in retrospect that intervention could have saved one million lives. The Bushies attacked this apparent weakness of multilaterism when pitching their own unilateral approach to foreign policy.

    I’ll accept that flaw as a necessary evil, until I come across better guiding principles. I think the Dubya experience showed that their approach has it’s own drawbacks.

    But in a future Rwanda-like situation, I would of course hope that information about a genocide under way would be quickly and widely disseminated and that the UNSC would mandate an intervention to prevent the genocide from proceding – if the estimated risks didn’t outweigh the estimated cost of doing nothing (and I believe they didn’t in the case of Rwanda).

  370. 370
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    Maybe..I was just wondering how you sell that without people saying, “but what about Civil War X! Think of the children! You are history’s greatest monster!” Also you’re going to need a *very* convincing definition of Civil War and Genocide to make this point and have a hope of convincing anybody.

  371. 371
    Jinchi says:

    “but what about Civil War X! Think of the children! You are history’s greatest monster!”

    Again, “Civil War X”? Which would that be? Try citing an example of an actual war if you want to make that argument. And how did I get to be history’s greatest monster by arguing that we should avoid military conflicts in far flung regions of the world.

    It seems to me that you and Danny are quite happy to have a default use of military force by erecting extreme hypotheticals instead of dealing with reality. Instead of asking me what I would do in fantasy Civil War X, why don’t you take a look at your list of actual Civil Wars, explain to us which ones get the Jared seal of approval for military intervention. Don’t forget to explain why the rest don’t meet your standards.

    You might want to start by looking at the wars we did get involved (always with the best of stated intentions) and see if they turned out as we had hoped at the time. Better yet, take a look at the list and tell me which one “history’s greatest monster” didn’t get involved in.

  372. 372
    Jared says:

    @Jinchi:
    I don’t know nearly enough about them, like Danny I was assuming some civil wars turn into genocides (and end up on a different wiki page anyway), and some don’t.Anyway, interesting speaking to you, I’m defeated at only 372 comments.

  373. 373
    Elie says:

    @Dennis SGMM:

    I don’t need that technique, Dennis. I frequently ignore your sillier comments as I am sure you ignore mine. We are all adults here and can pick and choose our responses without someone’s mandate.

    PS — you know, you can be a lefty idealogue AND a Democrat… some are. I imagine you have many principles that are not negotiable pronouncements. I get that.

  374. 374
    Danny says:

    @Jinchi:

    Well you reject the Rwandan example, and still there was an ongoing civil war in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 (when the Genocide occurred). Civil war and Genocide are not mutually exclusive. Another example: the Bolsheviks are estimated to have killed 3-500 000 Don Kossacks during the Russian civil war.

    So there are a few examples for you to consider. But in the end that’s immaterial because the question is: Assuming for the sake of argument that a genocide was to occur in a civil war zone, can we intervene or not?

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    Jinchi says:

    Well you reject the Rwandan example, and still there was an ongoing civil war in Rwanda between 1990 and 1994 (when the Genocide occurred).

    Your argument is specious, because you’re misreading my rule to suppose that we could not, for any reason, intervene in a country that was in a civil war. Toss aside your hypothetical ‘war that never was’ and consider instead the one that actually happened: Afghanistan.

    In 2001, Afghanistan was in the midst of a decades old civil war and the United States went to war against it’s Taliban government. But we didn’t go to war because they were a despotic government oppressing their people and we didn’t go to take sides in their civil war. We went to war with them because they were sheltering a group that had directly attacked the United States. That war was in the national interests of the United States and virtually every other nation in the world thought it legitimate, including some of our enemies. Pushing out the Taliban and AQ was both quick and dramatic.

    The next 9 years we were focused principally on fighting their civil war, with ‘allies’ routinely switching sides on us. Even Karzai has occasionally threatened to join the Taliban if we don’t do his bidding. That’s why we’re in a quagmire there.

  376. 376
    Danny says:

    Your argument is specious, because you’re misreading my rule to suppose that we could not, for any reason, intervene in a country that was in a civil war.

    I’m not misreading anything. You didn’t qualify your rule, thats all: “Rule Number 1: Do not get involved in other people’s civil wars”. That’s not my fucking problem. I offered you the chance to do so, here.

    Toss aside your hypothetical ‘war that never was’ and consider instead the one that actually happened: Afghanistan.

    Well, do you think that intervention in the Rwandan civil war would have been warranted once the genocide was underway? I didnt see you answering that. Did I miss a post somewhere?

    Do you think that intervention in the Russian civil war would have been warranted once the genocide on the Don Kossacks was underway? Those are simple questions, and they are not depending on some hypothetical. Those were civil wars where genocide took place.

    In 2001, Afghanistan was in the midst of a decades old civil war and the United States went to war against it’s Taliban government. But we didn’t go to war because they were a despotic government oppressing their people and we didn’t go to take sides in their civil war. We went to war with them because they were sheltering a group that had directly attacked the United States. That war was in the national interests of the United States and virtually every other nation in the world thought it legitimate, including some of our enemies. Pushing out the Taliban and AQ was both quick and dramatic.

    The next 9 years we were focused principally on fighting their civil war, with ‘allies’ routinely switching sides on us. Even Karzai has occasionally threatened to join the Taliban if we don’t do his bidding. That’s why we’re in a quagmire there.

    So you’re saying that where we went wrong was picking sides in the afghan civil war. I’d say you’d have a stronger case if your proposition was us screwing up when we defined the exit condition as a stable, non-taliban Afghanistan, and assumed ownership for making that happen.

    But we could have easily have picked sides without assuming ownership, e.g. like we did in Libya. We’d hardly be in a “quagmire” in Afghanistan, if all we ever did was provide air support to one side, while proclaiming that the final outcome will be up to the afghanis on the ground.

    I’m not saying that that is what we should have done, just saying that your rule still doesnt cut it.

  377. 377
    Jinchi says:

    I’m not misreading anything. You didn’t qualify your rule, thats all

    You’re still misreading me. Sending troops to Afghanistan to oust bin Laden is not the same thing as deciding to fight their civil war. Likewise, acting to stop a genocide does not require that you pick a side among the hostile factions. There is no qualification necessary.

    But you tell me my rule “doesn’t cut it” despite the fact that your preferred course of action literally failed to stop the Rwandan genocide. Still you’re sure it will work out next time.

    And now you’re off to fight another fantasy war in Russia. Tell me, are you asking if I think the United States circa 1918 should have intervened in the Russian civil war or in your fantasy, is it the United States circa 2011 fighting against men on horseback? Because it seems like you imagine that our intervention is guaranteed to succeed at virtually no cost in American lives or money, despite a long history that tells us otherwise.

    You want the rest of us to lay down a set of rules, with the hope that you can nitpick at it looking for loopholes. Always as an excuse to go bomb somebody, of course. The idea that America’s default position should be not to go to war is apparently offensive.

  378. 378
    Danny says:

    You’re still misreading me. Sending troops to Afghanistan to oust bin Laden is not the same thing as deciding to fight their civil war. Likewise, acting to stop a genocide does not require that you pick a side among the hostile factions. There is no qualification necessary.

    Then you understand your rule to specifically entail not being involved in the fighting while being in a lasting alliance with one side. Is that correct? It’s OK to violate the territory of one side, but we can’t consistently favor one side? If we have to engage in hostilities with one side that’s OK as long as our objective is not favoring one side in the conflict, but preventing genocide?

    That understanding of what “getting involved” entails is absolutely reasonable, but it would have been just as reasonable to interpret “getting involved” as not partaking in any hostilities with either side whatsoever. You never specified what you meant, hence I wasn’t misreading you; you weren’t clear.

    But you tell me my rule “doesn’t cut it” despite the fact that your preferred course of action literally failed to stop the Rwandan genocide. Still you’re sure it will work out next time.

    I said it didnt “cut it” because you seemed to be implying the justification for it was not getting tied up in “quagmires” as exemplified by the Afghanistan experience, and I suggested that we could have easily avoided a quagmire in Afghanistan while still breaking your rule – e.g. by just providing air support to the Northern Alliance and nothing more. IOW, your havent yet shown that following your rule is necessary to achieve your stated objective.

    And now you’re off to fight another fantasy war in Russia. Tell me, are you asking if I think the United States circa 1918 should have intervened in the Russian civil war or in your fantasy, is it the United States circa 2011 fighting against men on horseback? Because it seems like you imagine that our intervention is guaranteed to succeed at virtually no cost in American lives or money, despite a long history that tells us otherwise.

    I was trying to get you to illustrate how your rule would be applied to different plausible real world scenarios. The Russian civil war obviously isnt a fantasy war – it was a real war. The only hypothetical was a humanitarian intervention to stop the genocide that took place during the Russian civil war.

    It’s just another way of asking the question: Assuming for the sake of argument that a genocide was taking place in a civil war zone, what does your rule entail w/r/t if we’re allowed to intervene under the rule? That’s a perfectly fair question. The Russian civil war is only relevant as a real world example of a genocide in a civil war zone.

    My understanding of your position is now that yes, we are allowed to intervene under your rule, as long as long as our only objective is stopping the genocide and nothing more. Correct?

    You want the rest of us to lay down a set of rules, with the hope that you can nitpick at it looking for loopholes. Always as an excuse to go bomb somebody, of course. The idea that America’s default position should be not to go to war is apparently offensive.

    Yes, I want you to lay out guiding principles, and yes, there’s no promise that I will find them worthwhile. I’ve been perfectly forthcoming with laying out my own guiding principles when you asked me about them, and even pointing out ways in which they’re flawed. You’re free to nitpick them all you want. That’s the point of this exercise, isnt it, to arrive at a position on when and when not to deploy the US military abroad? To try that position out on plausible scenarios and consider what the implications could be.

    I have a lot of respect for the strict non-interventionist position. Implying that I would find it “offensive” is an Ad Hominem. I just think one has to be transparent with what one’s position is, and willing to discuss the implications of it openly, and honestly. Is there a problem with that approach?

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    […] Cole is more forceful in his evaluation of this seeming victory, and the question of whether or not it should change the opinion of anyone who has opposed this war from the beginning: Does that change my initial opposition to US involvement? Not one bit. You all can go on and on […]

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