‘Addicted to empire… potential quagmire’ — Walt

Israel/Palestine
on 52 Comments

Stephen Walt on the Libyan intervention at Foreign Policy. “Potential quagmire” is in last line of the piece, not in this excerpt:

The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power — and especially its military power — can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America’s right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.

So if you’re baffled by how Mr. “Change You Can Believe In” morphed into Mr. “More of the Same,” you shouldn’t really be surprised. George Bush left in disgrace and Barack Obama took his place, but he brought with him a group of foreign policy advisors whose basic world views were not that different from the people they were replacing. I’m not saying their attitudes were identical, but the similarities are probably more important than the areas of disagreement. Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn’t really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.

So where does this leave us? For starters, Barack Obama now owns not one but two wars. He inherited a deteriorating situation in Afghanistan, and he chose to escalate instead of withdrawing.  Instead of being George Bush’s mismanaged blunder, Afghanistan became “Obama’s War.” And now he’s taken on a second, potentially open-ended military commitment, after no public debate, scant consultation with Congress, without a clear articulation of national interest, and in the face of great public skepticism. Talk about going with a gut instinct.

When the Security Council passed Resolution 1973 last week and it was clear we were going to war, I credited the administration with letting Europe and the Arab League take the lead in the operation. My fear back then, however, was that the Europeans and Arab states would not be up to the job and that Uncle Sucker would end up holding the bag. But even there I gave them too much credit, insofar as U.S. forces have been extensively involved from the very start, and the Arab League has already gone wobbly on us. Can anyone really doubt that this affair will be perceived by people around the world as a United States-led operation, no matter what we say about it?…

But the real lesson is what it tells us about America’s inability to resist the temptation to meddle with military power. Because the United States seems so much stronger than a country like Libya, well-intentioned liberal hawks can easily convince themselves that they can use the mailed fist at low cost and without onerous unintended consequences. When you have a big hammer the whole world looks like a nail; when you have thousand of cruise missiles and smart bombs and lots of B-2s and F-18s, the whole world looks like a target set. The United States doesn’t get involved everywhere that despots crack down on rebels (as our limp reaction to the crackdowns in Yemen and Bahrain demonstrate), but lately we always seems to doing this sort of thing somewhere. Even a smart guy like Barack Obama couldn’t keep himself from going abroad in search of a monster to destroy.

52 Responses

  1. CK MacLeod
    March 22, 2011, 9:59 pm

    I think John Judis put it well today – just the questions that the ideological opponents of the intervention need to answer:

    So I ask myself, would these opponents of U.S. intervention (as part of U.N. Security Council approved action), have preferred:

    (1) That gangs of mercenaries, financed by the country’s oil wealth, conduct a bloodbath against Muammar Qaddafi’s many opponents?

    (2) That Qaddafi himself, wounded, enraged, embittered, and still in power, retain control of an important source of the world’s oil supply, particularly for Europe, and be able to spend the wealth he derives from it to sow discord in the region?

    (3) And that the movement toward democratization in the Arab world—which has spread from Tunisia to Bahrain, and now includes such unlikely locales as Syria—be dealt an enormous setback through the survival of one of region’s most notorious autocrats?

    If you answer “Who cares?” to each of these, I have no counter-arguments to offer, but if you worry about two or three of these prospects, then I think you have to reconsider whether Barack Obama did the right thing in lending American support to this intervention.

    How The Left Got Libya Wrong | The New Republic

    • Donald
      March 22, 2011, 11:02 pm

      You picked out the worst part of Judis’s piece. It’s the same sort of BS that was given to support going into Iraq.

      A serious case for war would make the case that it would do Libyans and the rest of the world more good than harm. One would have to outline how a war would accomplish this. Just emoting about how bad Gadaffi is (of course he’s bad) doesn’t do the job.

      His support for the Gulf War (in the piece, not in what you copied) doesn’t really strengthen his argument as much as he seems to think. As a result of that war and the sanctions that followed we killed hundreds of thousands of Iraqis, impoverished the country, and set the stage for posturing US politicians to lead us into yet another war with hundreds of thousands more deaths, making their case for that war the way Judis does. Yes, we drove Saddam out of Kuwait, but that’s not all that we did. I’ve never understood how it is that war advocates can just blandly ignore the consequences of the wars they’ve advocated, remembering the good and forgetting the rest . Well, maybe I do understand.

      This doesn’t mean it’s wrong to intervene–I don’t know. But Judis’s argument is largely a waste of time.

      • Citizen
        March 23, 2011, 7:27 am

        One caveat is that when Bush Jr and the neocons took us to war the first pretext was not saving Iraquis from Saddam, but ill-evidenced WMDs. Further, at the time there was no Arab rebellion already sweeping through the region against its sequential tyrannical regimes.

        As to Walt’s article, it may clarify the intellectual difference between the successive US regimes, but it does not state the Krazy Glue which holds them together so strongly, the Israel Firsters that dominate every nook and cranny of our foreign affairs and MSM building, an invisible and narrow government building linking both the WH & Congress buildings. Perhaps this is because Walt expects his audience has already read The Israel Lobby.

        As to Judis, and Donald’s comment, does anyone here believe that Obama-Hillary et al would’ve unleashed our Tomahawks without
        AIPAC-Israel signing off first, at the very least, having no sticky objection?
        Just how do any of Obama’s foreign policy consultants and related think tanks regarding the Middle East differ from any Bush Jr had regarding anything Israel?

      • fuster
        March 23, 2011, 12:33 pm

        It ain’t overwhelming, but a consideration of the what the future might hold sans intervention is not a waste of time. it’s rather a usual practice.

      • CK MacLeod
        March 23, 2011, 12:34 pm

        Donald, I always enjoy your submissions on MW threads, because you stick to the ideas, and seem determinedly susceptible to logic. I’m therefore going to take a little time with this reply. The discussion should also address points raised by others in support of Walt and in relation to Greenwald’s reply to Judis.

        First on the Iraq comparison: The arguments made regarding Saddam may not have been sufficient to justify all that followed in the Iraq war, but that doesn’t mean that those arguments were baseless. It’s not a question of “emoting,” and it’s even less a question of designing a one-size-fits-all rule of building a perfect world through military intervention. It’s a question of analyzing a unique situation on its own terms and in actual context.

        There would have been a real cost, actually a set of real costs and uncertainties, to the Iraqis and others, attributable to not intervening in Iraq in 2003, and for that matter in letting Saddam have Kuwait in 1991. Given Saddam’s track record, his ambitions, and his methods, it’s fair to assume that the costs might have been extremely high, first and disproportionately to his neighbors and his own people. If you need to deny those facts to make your argument, then you don’t have a good argument, and you’re no longer arguing with the people who supported the Gulf War and the Iraq invasion (two phases of the same war), but with straw men. Or, to put it in your language, a war advocate could say, “I’ve never understood how war critics can just blandly ignore the consequences of letting an aggressive and genocidally mass murderous militarist dictator achieve dominance in the single most economically and politically critical region in the world.”

        There are answers to this argument, and this thread probably isn’t a good place to review the modern history of war in the Gulf, but simply dismissing it because it fails to move you is not answering it. The same goes for simply dismissing Judis’ argument as a “waste of time.”

        Greenwald’s reply is casuistry – taking the form, as Muhammad Idrees Ahmad puts it on this thread, of an elision of “the immediate context” in favor of an “abstract argument.” Others, such as Juan Cole and the author Muhammad links, have spoken expertly to the numerous real differences between Iraq 2002-3 and Libya 2011. Judas’ three questions define that immediate context further: Everyone who opts for the application of a strict and generalized anti-imperialist line, or in other cases a pacifist, isolationist, or conspiracist position that arrives in the same place, has at a minimum that three-part burden to overcome: 1) bloodbath, 2) Qadhafi in victory, 3) effect on Arab Spring.

        In other words, every alternative scenario for movement forward in the Middle East and the world must begin with a failure of the U.S. and the international community – despite the presence of an adequate consensus, relatively easy means for putting it into effect, and a lack of significant opposition – to save lives, to stall Qadhafi, and to side with those seeking universal human and political rights. Every alternative that doesn’t begin with and prepare to overcome the burden of those assumptions is wishful fantasy or, rather literally, sheer inhumanity – as, incidentally, are the historical critiques that pretend the alternative to war in 2003 or 1991 was perpetual peace among all the world’s children and other living things. The arguments become even more fantastical when they rely on fortune-telling: After a few days of cruise missile strikes on air defense assets, and some rather minimal bombing of troop positions, those supporting the Libya operations are somehow expected to justify a non-existent quagmire, and defend the entire course of the 20-year fustercluck in Iraq, and probably Vietnam and Korea, too, before we’re done with it.

        As I suggested on the Khalaf thread, the real difference on the broad left seems to be between two tendencies, which tend to co-exist in the critiques of many leftists, and are not always sorted out very consistently. One tendency sees the U.S. and other Western liberal democratic powers – the whole neo-empire – as part or potentially part of an international community supporting universal (bourgeois democratic) rights, freedoms, and institutions, its precise character evolving, but supported by military force when threatened by military force. The other tendency takes a more “radical” line, and is fed by several tendencies, including a critique of “imperialism” that doesn’t seem to have been updated in around 50 years. One of the things that makes the latter line less persuasive, and in most countries rather marginal in political discussion, is that it seems to have little to offer anyone beyond positions of eternal self-righteousness for its advocates. Objectively, it seems to end up in the same place as far right isolationists, far left splinter groups, New Age pacifists, conspiracist nutjobs… and Muammar Qadhafi, and not just in 2011.

        I don’t assume that it’s impossible for a serious and consequential anti- or post-imperialist radicalism to arise and overcome these problems, at least to augment and potentially even to supplant the first tendency, but I don’t think it will happen by wishing the world as it is away – or, in your words, “remembering the good and forgetting the rest” in its arguments.

      • annie
        March 23, 2011, 1:14 pm

        ee gads, how many people are going to make it thru this post for heavens sakes?

        It’s a question of analyzing a unique situation on its own terms and in actual context.

        it took you 2 paragraphs to spit that out and then you launch into a couple more hypothesizing it could have been worse had we not intervened in iraq.

        has at a minimum that three-part burden to overcome: 1) bloodbath, 2) Qadhafi in victory, 3) effect on Arab Spring.

        haven’t you gotten the memo? according to Africom” head Gen. Carter Ham?

        “I have a very discreet [discrete] military mission, so I could see accomplishing the military mission and the current leader would remain the current leader,” Ham said. “I don’t think anyone would say that is ideal.”

        the mission is not to oust qadhdhafi. the mission is not even to prevent qadhdhafi from duking it out w/the opposition (“We have no authority and no mission to support the opposition forces in what they might do,” he added. What’s more, the coalition forces won’t attack Qaddafi’s forces if they are battling rebel groups, only if they are attacking “civilians,” Ham explained.), only to protect ‘civilians’. you know how well we accomplished that in iraq/not. as we handed over civilians to be tortured by our well trainer puppet army.

      • CK MacLeod
        March 23, 2011, 1:24 pm

        annie, try to process the difference between a military mission undertaken by particular U.S. and allied forces and a larger context. Here’s an example, I can respond to your comment, and I can also go on about my life. When questioned about my response, I could say

        I have a very discreet rhetorical mission, answering annie’s [characterization withheld] comment, at least the part that makes some kind of a arguable point. So I could see accomplishing that rhetorical mission while failing to achieve other desirable objectives. I don’t think that would be ideal.

      • annie
        March 23, 2011, 1:56 pm

        try to process the difference between a military mission undertaken by particular U.S. and allied forces and a larger context.

        ‘try to process’ the larger context of iraq?

        oh wow why didn’t i think of that before (snark)

      • CK MacLeod
        March 23, 2011, 2:13 pm

        oh wow why didn’t i think of that before (snark)

        Possibly, annie, because your mind words by circuitous and unpredictable ways. For instance, now you’re assuming, for no apparent reason other than a desperation to imagine you’ve won a rhetorical victory, that the larger context being referred to was Iraq. This larger context of the Libya operation in relation to Ham’s statement (which you introduced) involves factors, forces, and actors that go far beyond the limited military mission, whose main justification and stated objective were and are avoiding imminent negatives: imminent “merciless” bloodbath in Benghazi and beyond, imminent triumph of Q, imminent major and potentially definitive setback to the democracy movement as understood and supported by the international community.

      • annie
        March 23, 2011, 2:59 pm

        First on the Iraq comparison(ed note: bla bla bla )… It’s a question of analyzing a unique situation on its own terms and in actual context.

        now you’re assuming, for no apparent reason other than a desperation to imagine you’ve won a rhetorical victory, that the larger context being referred to was Iraq.

        cloudyboy, as much as i truly enjoy reading all your condescending teachie moments i already read ham’s statement before i linked to it, plus the supporting link of my supporting link. iow, his whole point was framing the ‘larger context’/kinda (i could copypaste more of his nebulousness but i recommend reading helena)

        if you like getting off imagining paraphrasing ham is your brainchild and i don’t think of those ‘larger issues’..dude, go for it.

        happy to hear you find me unpredictable, wish i could say the same for you. (boring…except for the condescension as it’s generally amusing hearing someone make a pompous a** of themselves). btw, this is no rhetorical victory because i found your original point too redundant to dive into a debate except to point out one pillar of your three pronged burden for the anti-imperialist line, or in other cases a pacifist, isolationist, or conspiracist (that being ‘Qadhafi in victor’) is a little watered down once we accept both the US and Qadhafi can come out victors. fun!

      • CK MacLeod
        March 23, 2011, 3:44 pm

        happy to hear you find me unpredictable

        No, annie, I find your comments generally quite predictable in tone and content. It’s the pseudo-logic connecting your presumptions, digressions, and insulting interjections that’s unpredictable.

        I think that you might actually be trying to say something (other than “f u CK”) in the above comment. Maybe you can try breaking up the last run-on sentence into chewable pieces.

    • Susie Kneedler
      March 23, 2011, 12:27 am

      Glenn Greenwald responds ably to Judis:

      “But my real question for Judis (and those who voice the same accusations against Libya intervention opponents) is this: do you support military intervention to protect protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies from suppression, or to stop the still-horrendous suffering in the Sudan, or to prevent the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast? Did you advocate military intervention to protect protesters in Iran and Egypt, or to stop the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon or its brutal and growing occupation of the West Bank?

      “If not, doesn’t that necessarily mean — using this same reasoning — that you’re indifferent to the suffering of all of those people, willing to stand idly by while innocents are slaughtered, to leave in place brutal tyrants who terrorize their own population or those in neighboring countries? Or, in those instances where you oppose military intervention despite widespread suffering, do you grant yourself the prerogative of weighing other factors: such as the finitude of resources, doubt about whether U.S. military action will hurt rather than help the situation, cynicism about the true motives of the U.S. government in intervening, how intervention will affect other priorities, the civilian deaths that will inevitably occur at our hands, the precedents that such intervention will set for future crises, and the moral justification of invading foreign countries?”

      link to salon.com

      • Muhammad Idrees Ahmad
        March 23, 2011, 7:14 am

        A rather poorly argued piece from the generally excellent Greenwald. Like Walt, he elides the immediate context and responds to an abstract argument. The Iraq-Libya analogy is facile, and is deftly deconstructed by Daniel Luban:
        link to lobelog.com

      • LeaNder
        March 23, 2011, 9:59 am

        thanks, Muhammad. Apart from what Luban writes, this is also a very different context. The region wasn’t in the process of demanding democracy, no matter how it happened. On the contrary Iraq was a central target on the US agenda for quite some time. It was a pure seize the day scenario, in spite of the massive PR trying to convince us of the ultimately humanitarian aims. Look at the results. It will be interesting what happens in the region in the next decade. Iraq doesn’t look much better than under Saddam, only the rulers changed, and a different set of people languishes in jail.

        There is an extended and complicated NATO meeting in Bruxelles. I think that the European are now faced with the centuries old US demand to take care of their own backyards. And this may well lead to changes in the structures of NATO decision authorities.

        German journalists experience troubles in the East, they sometimes seem to have a hard time to even get in. It’s interesting to watch the differences from reporters in the West and the East. The ones in the West are carefully guided by State propaganda. That leaves a similar feeling as during Operation Cast Lead. The difference is they experience the attacks.

      • LeaNder
        March 23, 2011, 10:40 am

        “to take care of their own backyards. ”

        I realize this may feel slightly insulting. But I didn’t invent the term and it’s usage.

    • tree
      March 23, 2011, 3:33 am

      Glenn Greenwald’s response says it all for me:

      Note how, in Judis’ moral world, there are only two possibilities: one can either support the American military action in Libya or be guilty of a “who cares?” attitude toward Gadaffi’s butchery. At least as far as this specific line of pro-war argumentation goes, this is just 2003 all over again. Back then, those opposed to the war in Iraq were deemed pro-Saddam: indifferent to the repression and brutalities suffered by the Iraqi people at his hands and willing to protect his power. Now, those opposed to U.S. involvement in the civil war in Libya are deemed indifferent to the repression and brutalities suffered by the Libyan people from Gadaffi and willing to protect his power. This rationale is as flawed logically as it is morally.

      ———

      But my real question for Judis (and those who voice the same accusations against Libya intervention opponents) is this: do you support military intervention to protect protesters in Yemen, Bahrain, Saudi Arabia and other U.S. allies from suppression, or to stop the still-horrendous suffering in the Sudan, or to prevent the worsening humanitarian crisis in the Ivory Coast? Did you advocate military intervention to protect protesters in Iran and Egypt, or to stop the Israeli slaughter of hundreds of trapped innocent civilians in Gaza and Lebanon or its brutal and growing occupation of the West Bank?

      If not, doesn’t that necessarily mean — using this same reasoning — that you’re indifferent to the suffering of all of those people, willing to stand idly by while innocents are slaughtered, to leave in place brutal tyrants who terrorize their own population or those in neighboring countries? Or, in those instances where you oppose military intervention despite widespread suffering, do you grant yourself the prerogative of weighing other factors: such as the finitude of resources, doubt about whether U.S. military action will hurt rather than help the situation, cynicism about the true motives of the U.S. government in intervening, how intervention will affect other priorities, the civilian deaths that will inevitably occur at our hands, the precedents that such intervention will set for future crises, and the moral justification of invading foreign countries? For those places where you know there is widespread violence and suffering yet do not advocate for U.S. military action to stop it, is it fair to assume that you are simply indifferent to the suffering you refuse to act to prevent, or do you recognize there might be other reasons why you oppose the intervention?

      link to salon.com

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars
      March 23, 2011, 8:35 am

      Since I find it pretty difficult to express complex ideas in a language that isn’t mine I just want say that I agree with CK and John Judis.

  2. kapok
    March 22, 2011, 10:22 pm

    (4) If the Coalition of the Bribed want to help the Freedom Fighters why don’t they supply them with weaponry instead of simply bombing Gadaffi from afar?

    • Citizen
      March 23, 2011, 7:36 am

      The Libya rebels have been pleading for the US to send them governmental or private contractors to organize them and train them to be an effective military force. Clear skies. Done. Stopped Gaddafi’s armored column in its tracks. Done. Stealth supplying weapons? Sending in JFK-style “advisors?” This is indeed a slippery slope Obama has embarked on; he’s already announced we will be withdrawing our military help in a few days. A lot could happen in that time and in such matters Gaddafi is not stupid.

    • WeAreAllMadeOfStars
      March 23, 2011, 8:37 am

      Because I don’t think you will find an F18 or tank user manual on the internet …

  3. Chris S
    March 23, 2011, 12:14 am

    “Who cares?” is the right answer. It’s none of America’s business what goes on in Libya. Most Americans couldn’t even find it on a map, Americans only care because those that want a military base in Libya have conditioned them to care. Nobody cares.

    • Citizen
      March 23, 2011, 7:39 am

      Basically, true Chris S. We don’t even care about our own troops or their families. Last week Oprah had a show on this subject; she’s not alone in admitting she never really thought about it all. Next thing you know, Tyra Banks will have a show on the same subject. Maybe we need a reality show to really get the point made since those bumper stickers don’t do the trick.

    • annie
      March 23, 2011, 8:31 am

      Americans only care because those that want a military base in Libya

      possibly reestablishing Wheelus Air Base.

  4. Pixel
    March 23, 2011, 1:26 am

    “…if you’re baffled by how Mr. “Change You Can Believe In” morphed into Mr. “More of the Same,” you shouldn’t really be surprised.”

    There’s nothing baffling about it. You can’t morph into something when nothing changes and nothing did. Long before Day 1, Obama was owned by the Zionists who groomed him and put him into the Presidency. That’s the same Chicago group who pre-determined who got/kept which positions (and who didn’t) in the administration, the Fed, everywhere – Rahm, Geitner, Bernake, et al.

    And things keep moving predictably along. It’s zero surprise that Rahm was “elected” mayor of Chicago. You could smell it coming from a mile away. It’s all part of the same story and it matters. It matters to the Palestinian/Israeli nightmare and it matters everywhere else, too.

    It’s not baffling, it’s insidious.

    • Pixel
      March 23, 2011, 1:32 am

      “Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire…”

      Strike “empire.” It’s globalism.

      The Emperor is wearing no clothes.

      • Pixel
        March 23, 2011, 1:39 am

        “… it doesn’t really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue. ”

        Never a truer general statement made. And it has been true – on all issues – for many moons. “By the shores of Gitche Gumee, …”

    • Citizen
      March 23, 2011, 7:43 am

      Yeah, it seems our foreign policy experts and finance-monetary-economic experts never change no matter who’s in the WH, Congress, or high appointed offices in IT or Security, etc. It’s such a small speck of a group of consultants for such a large first line democracy nation.

  5. kosmotropic
    March 23, 2011, 1:50 am

    I don’t think that Libya is Obama’s “second blunder”, but actually a noble cause. Yes we are an empire and yes we have interests throughout the world including Libya. But how could you not admire Obama for sticking up for the Libyan rebels who yearn to be free of 41 years of capricious and brutal tyranny? What do you expect Obama to do? Cancel the empire? And if empire it is why not use that power in a noble cause? Compassion and self-interest: what a concept!

    • Avi
      March 23, 2011, 5:35 am

      The terms “empire” and “noble cause” are anathema. Throughout history, humanitarianism has long been cited as the impetus to expand and grab more territory.

      • kosmotropic
        March 23, 2011, 8:45 pm

        Avi
        We live in this moment and not in history. History may, to some extent, be a guide to current events, but the times, in my opinion, are unique. We are a rapidly evolving (in a cultural sense) species. We are entering a whole new era in Humanity that has NO historical precedence. So I would caution you in your hasty generalizations about “noble causes” and “empires” being fundamentally incompatible. If something is in one’s self interest it is not impossible that it might also be the right thing to do (not in an egoistic sense but) in a broadly moral sense.

      • Antidote
        March 23, 2011, 11:04 pm

        I don’t see anything new here at all, and agree with avi. The intervention in Libya fits the bill of what the US has done for a century, starting with the Monroe Doctrine. None of the wars were fought for defending the US, nor any noble humanitarian goals, despite plenty of claims to the contrary. And they like beating up on weak or weakened targets to affirm world supremacy. Bush/Blair discredited themselves with transparent lies, Obama/Cameron is just new packaging of the same old imperial deal, taking cover behind the ‘world community’ (UNSC). Including the ‘you’re with us or against us’ false dichotomy. There are alternatives to the primitive response of ‘bomb this and that/smoke them out of their caves’. Here is one. To call it ineffectual is to deny the horrendous cost of intervention by the imperial powers during WW II and its successor in the ME

        link to koenraadelst.bharatvani.org

  6. Richard Witty
    March 23, 2011, 5:26 am

    “The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power — and especially its military power — can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. ”

    Everyone relies on the US, including the radical left. Even the hoping that the US will “change” Israel is a passive, dependant attitude.

    Disempowering, waiting, enabling. Failing to think beyond the struggle, failing to work towards an actual goal.

    • RoHa
      March 23, 2011, 8:45 am

      “passive, dependant attitude”

      Is using “dependant” as an adjective some secret Zionist code? The adjective is “dependent”.

      • Mooser
        March 23, 2011, 12:12 pm

        You oughta see dependant Witty wears around his neck.

      • Chaos4700
        March 23, 2011, 11:50 pm

        Stop being so dependantic. It’s fascistic and it’s in the past, Mooser.

  7. Bandolero
    March 23, 2011, 6:15 am

    I’m of the opinion that Stephen Walt is making the case against this war and the ideology behind it not strong enough.

    Here are some arguments countering the war against Libya (I wrote them initially to counter Juan Cole’s ten arguments why Libya 2011 is not Iraq 2003, but Juan Cole didn’t want that I share them with his readership).

    1. Bombing a country back to the stone age to help an armed insurgency in regime change is completely illegal – and cannot be legalized by no UNSC resolution. It’s even more immoral when these armed insurgent groups were financed, trained and armed for decades by the attacker’s intelligence agencies like the NFSL was by CIA and the LIFG and the heirs of the former king by MI6.

    2. The insurgency was by no means peaceful. These “peaceful protestors” running for regime change stormed arm depots, lynched scroes of their countrymen and massacred scrores of black people – huntng them fasely down as mercenaries. Given offers to mediate a peaceful end of conflict, the heavily armed opposition fighters vowed to violently conquer other towns. The armed march on Tripoli was stopped when the inhabitants of the village Bin Jawad allowed government forces to slip in and push the insurgency fighters out.

    3. There was an ongoing massacre of civilians, and many of them were black and killed by the insurgents just because they were black. The attacking foreign forces side with the conflict group who were hunting down and lynching black people. There was no grave danger of massacre in Benghazi, like the Obama-US supported “Operation scorched earth” in Yemen was, but a danger to negotiate peace and bring those who participated in a violent lynch mob and conspired with the US and UK to trial.

    4. The Arab League urged the UNSC to implement a no fly zone without foreign intervention, that is by diplomatic means. The UNSC allowed to protect civilians. The US decided to take that as a permission to bomb the country and it’s population. No neighboring country of Libya takes part in this war action against Libya. In fact, the much more clear active regional support is with the Libyan government. The African Union, which is in case of Libya much more important than the Arab League, because Libya is much more an African country than an Arab country, was just against any foreign intervention. The New York Times reported from the metropolis Bamako just across an uncontrolable desert border with Libya, that there are al around scores of people burning to go to Libya to fight for the Libyan government – even unpaid and when not invited. From Chad, Mauritania, Sudan and Niger there are similar reports of scores of well experienced civil war fighters coming to help their protective patron Gaddafi.

    5. As the UK Mirror reported the United Kingkom has scores of SAS special forces on the ground already “for weeks”. UK special forces on the ground in Libya were proven by the arrest of the heavily armed “small diplomatic team” brought in by helicopter in the night looking for a hotel, as the secretary put it. If irregular forces and NATO air support will not be enough for violent regime change – and it probably won’t, every military expert knows, what follow has to be a ground invasion to accomplish the goal.

    6. There were and are masses of false allegations against the Gaddafi government, like the hoaxes that it used mercenaries or that it used airplanes to attack civilians.

    7. The United States will probably having no way out of this war without loosing the war. The fight will be won in the desert of the Sahara – from Sudan to Mauritania – , that’s where Gaddafis power base is and – even if it would be temporarily ousted in Tripoli, that’s were for years will come attacks from to reinstall the present government forces in Libya and get back the oil and water. It may well become a very long war. It’s highly probably that French and UK forces will loose that battle there without US ground forces. It’s highly improbable anyway, that the US presence there will make a big difference, because the war theater in the war against Libya will be about five to ten times larger than Afghanistan and Iraq combined. Have a guess why especially the republican defense secretary Robert Gates didn’t like the idea of going to war against Libya.

    8. The ethnic dimension in the Libyan war is – besides a competely tribal society similar to Somalia – more or less secular muslim africans in the west against islamic arabs in the east.

    9. The US has managed to draw it’s christian NATO stooges into this war against islamic Africa – nobody else wants to go into this quagmire. It may still have a chance to buy the arab dictator of Qatar as a fig leave for this crusade. The US has not managed to find a single African country to join the war against Libya.

    10. A victorious Gaddafi would not go to war against his African brothers, who didn’t wage war against Libya, but make the imperialist powers led by the US to regret the decision to wage war against Libya and never forget that lesson. But that will make all of his followers, too.

    Now there is just one way out of the quagmire of endless Sahara wars for the US and it’s followers: they have to pay compensation for what they damaged and stop sabotaging efforts of the African Union to mediate a peace deal between the African and Arab part of Libya.

    • RoHa
      March 23, 2011, 9:07 am

      “Juan Cole didn’t want that I share them”

      That should be “didn’t want me to share them”.

      “Bombing a country back to the stone age to help an armed insurgency”

      So far, still a long way from the stone age.

      “cannot be legalized by no UNSC resolution”

      That should be “cannot be legalized by any UNSC resolution”.

      “It’s even more immoral when these armed insurgent groups were financed, trained and armed for decades by the attacker’s intelligence agencies”

      Evidence for these decades of arming, etc.?
      And why is it more immoral to add open support to a cause that they have secretly supported?

      ” From Chad, Mauritania, Sudan and Niger there are similar reports of scores of well experienced civil war fighters coming to help their protective patron Gaddafi.”
      “There were and are masses of false allegations against the Gaddafi government, like the hoaxes that it used mercenaries or that it used airplanes to attack civilians.”

      Difficult to fit those two sentences together. The first asserts African fighters coming to help Gaddafi. The second denies that he uses mercenaries. Don’t the African troops get paid?

      “French and UK forces will loose that battle there..”

      Lose, not loose.

      “The ethnic dimension in the Libyan war is … more or less secular muslim africans in the west against islamic arabs in the east.”

      Tosh. The majority of Libyans, East and West, are mixed Arab-Berber.

      • Bandolero
        March 23, 2011, 10:42 am

        “Evidence for these decades of arming, etc.?”

        It’s well known a long time to everybody, with evidence in places available like the congress library. Let’s go into some details:

        See the early reports in Wikipedia who ran the battle of Benghazi – Belligerents: NCLO – in new versions the NCLO has been erased though from that wikipedia article to conceal it’s leading role. However it’s not difficult to find it out – once you know about it.

        First let’s have a look into Wikipedia what the NCLO is:

        Background:

        The National Conference for the Libyan Opposition was formed on 26 June, 2005 in London.

        Member groups
        * Libyan Constitutional Union, led by Muhammad as-Senussi, a pretender to the Libyan Throne
        * Libyan League for Human Rights
        * Libyan Tmazight Congress
        * National Front for the Salvation of Libya

        So that group was found in London. Let’s have a look into Wikipedia about the “National Front for the Salvation of Libya” (NFSL):

        The most recent National Congress of the NFSL was held in the United States in July, 2007. According to various sources, Saudi Arabia and the United States Central Intelligence Agency had supported the NFSL.

        OK, so the CIA has supported the NFSL.

        For some details on past actions you may look here:

        War Criminal Obama: Gadhafi Must Restore Phone Service or Face Attack. Globalist crimes against humanity expanded over Libya.

        No have a look at the Libyan monarchy, whose flag the rebels use. The New York Times ran a story Libyan Prince Is Taking Control of Rebels in 1991:

        The exiled Prince Idris of Libya has said he will take control of a dissident Libyan paramilitary force that was originally trained by American intelligence advisers, and he has promised to order it into combat against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi, the Libyan leader.

        So that’s the function of the monarchistic part of NCLO.

        Now have a look what we know about British MI6 and (Libyan Islamic Fighting Group) LIFG – look what former MI5 officers David Shayler and Annie Machon had to say about that relation – they revealed, that MI6 financed the “Libyan Islamic Fighting Group” to kill Gaddafi. For starters: The Shaylergate Files – How MI6 Sponsored Al Qaeda In Libya

        Now we know from British papers, that scores British special SAS forces are already many weeks operating secrety in Libya to prepare bombing of Libya. Funny eh? The “spontaneous” uprising just started with much hope, but the Brits were already marking the targets for the current bombing campaign.

        You do the math.

        PS: Please do not forget about the MEPI, which seems to be the government force behind the Facebook campaigns calling for the “days of rage” with the target of regime change.

      • RoHa
        March 23, 2011, 7:45 pm

        Good. Support for that part of your screed.

        Now why is it bad?

  8. seafoid
    March 23, 2011, 7:25 am

    Israel may be about to delegitimise itself even further

    link to haaretz.com

    Vice Premier Shalom says Israel may have to consider wide operation in Gaza; Minister Limor Livnat: Operation Cast Lead 2 may be in order

    • eljay
      March 23, 2011, 7:57 am

      >> link to haaretz.com

      From the linked-to article:
      >> “The IDF is acting and will act against terrorist organizations in the Gaza Strip,” Netanyahu said, after a barrage of mortar shells and Grad rockets struck the western Negev within the early hours of the day, “No state would be prepared to tolerate continue rocket fire on its citizens or citizens.”

      Here’s what’s wrong with the Zio-supremacist mind:
      1. No mention or recognition of the fact that Israel CONTINUES to engage in aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder against Palestinians.
      2. No mention or recognition of the fact that no people should have to tolerate ON-GOING aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.
      3. No mention or recognition of the fact that rocket fire on Israel may very well be the result of Israel’s ON-GOING aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder.
      4. No mention or recognition of the fact that Israel has the power to halt its ON-GOING aggression, oppression, theft, colonization, destruction and murder immediately, completely and forever…but that it chooses not to.

      Instead, all one hears is how Israel is a victim and how the Palestinians – who are mindless, anti-Semitic, Israel-hating terrrrrrrrists – have no right to the same sort of self-defense that citizens of Israel are entitled to.

      Zio-supremacism: Hypocrisy, immorality, injustice and supremacism in one tidy package.

  9. Citizen
    March 23, 2011, 7:58 am

    Bandolero, is it really a hoax that Gaffifi has brought in hired black thugs (jobless youger black African males use to violence and cruelty) to bolster his forces, which he had intentionally kept rather weak for rear of an internal insurrection?

    Yes, I wonder what the UK special forces have been doing on the Libyan ground for so many weeks. England has also just stated it would not promise it would not send in (more public) boots on the ground. And the rebels are asking the US for foreign military advisers. So how likely is it the US will fly home in a day or so, never to return?

    • RoHa
      March 23, 2011, 9:13 am

      “England has also just stated ”

      No it hasn’t.

      • MHughes976
        March 23, 2011, 1:50 pm

        Kevin Macguire in the Mirror, our only leftish paper with a wide readership in the UK, reports that SAS teams are guiding RAF strikes on Libya – their observations seem to have led the abortion of one RAF raid amid much publicity because of the risk to civilians. I had got the same impression, not much emphasised, from the BBC.
        I can’t deny that I was horrified by the prospect of a massacre by the Gadaffists in Benghazi, so I also can’t deny that I was relieved when the siege of Benghazi was stopped by western intervention. But the dilemma is going to be acute when we reach the limits of what can be achieved without a ground invasion. Are we going to settle for a partition?

      • Bandolero
        March 23, 2011, 3:13 pm

        @MHughes
        So, if the SAS teams in Libya were there to advice RAF pilots where are civilians, for what did they need to have explosives with them? Probably they are supposed to explode a bomb, so that the RAF pilots know where the civilians are.

        I think, what the SAS really does is a complete different thing than what the government claims: they fight since weeks in a war of aggression against Libya. And as they have explosives with them I guess they fight it with all the dirty tricks which we know from the SAS.

        The Dutch military helicopter which was cuaght in Sirte, which was said to have been flown there to evacuate two EU citizens, had also lot’s of weapons and money onboard. Looks pretty much like it was not an evacuation, but a supply mission for agents involved in a secret war.

      • RoHa
        March 23, 2011, 7:51 pm

        The SAS teams are supposed to be acting on behalf of Britain, under the orders of the British Government.

        England is only part of Britain, but Citizen seems to have difficulty understanding this.

    • Bandolero
      March 23, 2011, 9:44 am

      @Citizen
      Yes, the Gaddafi hires (black) mercenaries story is a hoax – or as I would call it – deadly war propaganda playing the arab anti-black racist card. About 20% of the Libyan population are black. Peter Bouckaert from Human Rights Watch was in eastern Libya to investigate the rebels claims that they captured black mercenaries fighting for Gaddafi. He reported to Radio Netherlands what he found out:

      The town (Al Bayda) is to the east of the city Benghazi and is also in the hands of the anti-Gaddafi protesters. The rights investigator said that what he found there were, in fact, 156 soldiers from the south of Libya and not from another African country. After talking to them he found out that they were all black Libyans of African descent. The soldiers have since been released by the protesters.

      According to Bouckaert, the support of the black southern Libyans for the Gaddafi regime is explicable as Gaddafi fought to counter discrimination against this group in Libyan society.

      RNW’s Mohammed Abdulrahman, who interviewed Bouckaert in Benghazi, says that the fact that there are few economic opportunities in the south also leads to southern Libyans joining the army.

      Source: HRW: No mercenaries in eastern Libya

      While the “black mercenaries story” is a hoax, the common persecution and even execution of black people commited by arab “rebels” seems not to be a hoax. See: Rebel racist hysteria: The persecution of blacks in Libya. Racism is a problem everywhere in northern Libya, but while Gaddafi tried to fight against racism, the rebels are particulaiar cruel: LIBYA: Rebels execute black immigrants while forces kidnap others.

      The reason why the rebels fear black people, is pretty cear for me. The south western Sahara cross border tribes (many civil war trained Tuareg fighters among them) are very much pro Gaddafi and most of them are black. And not only in Libya black people are very much pro Gaddafi.

      The New York Times recently reported from the 1.5 mln city Bamako – that’s the capital of Mali just across the desert border with Libya inhabitants – that the people there are building solidarity committes to go to fight for Gaddafi. Gaddafi didn’t call them, but they might go anyway to fight for him. Here are some quotes from the New York Times article:

      For the past 40 years, the Touaregs have rebelled, on and off, against the governments of Mali and Niger, provoking brutal anti-Touareg campaigns. Touaregs in Mali spoke of government soldiers poisoning wells and pulling Touareg men off buses and making them eat their national identification cards at gunpoint and then arresting or shooting them for not having any identification.

      When thousands of Touaregs fled into Libya in the 1970s and 1980s, Colonel Qaddafi welcomed them with open arms. He gave them food and shelter. He called them brothers.

      “Even if Qaddafi didn’t ask them, they’d go. He’s their chief, their leader, everything to them. If he’s out, they lose their protector.”

      He even succeeded in getting some traditional African leaders to call him “King of Kings,” and in Mali, from the streets to the president’s office, there seems to be near unanimous respect. Mr. Sissouma bristled at the idea that Libya was buying friends. “That’s not the case,” he said. “Libya has accepted to share its resources with others. Other African oil producers, like Nigeria, don’t do this.”

      “Hey, wait, you’re American,” he said excitedly. “Think the American government could help us defend Qaddafi?”

      In other long war torn regions and cities in the Sahara countries bordering Libya, the strong pro Gaddafi picture seems to be very similar. Much support for Gaddafi, and many million black people there fought their anti-colonial wars of liberation side by side with Gaddafi.

      If America and it’s allies want to make the racist arab rebels win in eastern Libya against the African backed socialists, they will have to occupy the whole Sahara – a region about five to ten times the size of Iraq and Afghanistan combined. So far for your question if “the US will fly home in a day or so”.

      • RoHa
        March 23, 2011, 7:58 pm

        So the people in Libya have to put up with Gaddafi’s tyranny because he’s been nice to some black people, and they haven’t?

  10. eGuard
    March 23, 2011, 9:11 am

    No American interest here. It’s just payback time for the US. Clearly, Blair & Bush jr. decided in 2002 to let Libya to the UK (BP, Shell). Blair then fleshed out the big contracts with Gadaffi, and now he calls on the US to deliver their part of the Iraq-deal. Just a pound of flesh from the Libyans (each).

    We only need to know what Tony Blair does these days. Let’s ask BP and Shell.

  11. Keith
    March 23, 2011, 6:14 pm

    The problems in the Middle East and elsewhere in the Third World are primarily structural, the result of colonialism, neo-colonialism, and neo-liberal globalization. This system has produced the deplorable conditions which give rise to civil unrest in the Third World. Make no mistake, most Third World economies are controlled by the IMF which is implementing the Washington consensus which immiserates the people for the benefit of the transnational corporations and international finance. Third World leaders which go along with the Washington consensus diktats are of necessity authoritarian to be able to control the population and crush resistance. That most of the Third World leadership is unresponsive to the popular will is a given considering the overarching structure of imperial dominance and control. Those leaders which oppose the neo-liberal imperative can only resist in a limited way due to global trade and financial dependencies, and even then are targeted for imperial retribution. The key determinant is the degree to which a situation advances or inhibits the imperial agenda, and the likelihood that a planned intervention will benefit elite interests. Humanitarian considerations are not considered except insofar as they may inhibit overall geo-strategy.

    As regards to Libya, this latest US intervention is intended to advance US strategic objectives. I am unaware of any instance where the US has engaged in military operations for humanitarian reasons (a virtual oxymoron if one thinks about it). I seriously doubt that such a thing is possible given the nature of the political economy, what with neo-liberal globalization causing such widespread human suffering worldwide in order to secure corporate profits and financial domination. What we can be sure of is that the US will oppose, and never assist any movement or insurrection which threatens to undermine the Washington consensus of US global hegemony and corporate/financial exploitation. As for Gaddafi, I don’t know how he compares to the other rulers in the area, Tunisia, Bahrain, etc. On the United Nations Human Development Index, Libya at 0.755 is the highest ranked country in Africa (53rd overall), while Egypt at 0.620 (101st overall) and South Africa at 0.597 (110th overall) are well behind. As for supporting terrorism, does that include the substantial support for Nelson Mandela and the African National Congress back when the US State Department classified them as a “terrorist” organization?

    Of course, whether Gaddafi is a “bad guy” or a “typical guy” is quite irrelevant as far as the intervention goes. Remember Suharto who murdered about 1 million people with our encouragement, support and approval? “They (the Indonesian military) probably killed a lot of people, and I probably have a lot of blood on my hands, but that’s not all bad.” (Foreign service officer Robert Martens discussing the US role in encouraging and supporting General Suharto’s coup in which a million people were murdered by Suharto’s forces) The point being that great powers intervene to achieve strategic objectives regardless of the cost in human lives, and never intervene simply for humanitarian reasons, particularly if doing so would be a setback to geo-strategy. To attempt to justify this imperial intervention as “humanitarian” is both absurd and obscene. If Gaddafi were to massacre a lot of people in support of US objectives, as in Bahrain, we would cheer him on. Isn’t that obvious? Our intervention indicates that the US feels that the outcome (removal of Gaddafi, splitting the country, new bases and force projection, etc) will advance US geo-strategic interests, and, more significantly, neo-liberal globalization.

    • RoHa
      March 23, 2011, 8:06 pm

      I don’t think any grown-up really believes the intervention is motivated by Sarkozy’s humanitarian concerns.

      However, given that an awful lot of these grand strategy operations end up as grand cock-ups (especially when the US is involved) my concern is whether it will end up with a passably democratic government in Libya without the total destruction of the country.

  12. Keith
    March 23, 2011, 9:27 pm

    ROHA- Since a passably democratic government in Libya would likely be a hindrance to the achievement of US/NATO strategic objectives, it could only occur despite US/NATO actions, an extremely unlikely scenario. As for US grand strategy “cock-ups,” I would suggest that the US didn’t exactly blunder into becoming the lone super power and reigning world hegemon. Allegations of US foreign policy blunders are highly exaggerated and usually result from a failure to accurately perceive actual strategic objectives, which are rarely stated and must be inferred.

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