The Humanitarian Expectation

E.D. Kain is one of my favorite bloggers and someone who I respect for his ability to get beyond simple partisan talking points, but I think he’s in denial about this:

As far as I’m concerned there are no good arguments for intervention in Libya. Reports that we’ve saved 100,000 lives there strike me as no better than propaganda.

As soon as Libyans began gearing up for their February 17th protests (which were supposed to mimic the successful Egyptian protest movement), I began to follow the situation closely. It’s a country (and a regime) that I’ve been fascinated by since I became friends with a Libyan who was given asylum in the U.S. in the early 90s. To this day, I’ve never been able to get the whole story out of him on why he had to flee the country.

For a while, it did appear as if Libya would follow the script of both Egypt and Tunisia. Protesters took to the streets across the country and in many cities were able to raise the tri-colored flag of pre-Gaddafi Libya. At one point, only Tripoli, Sirte, and a few other tiny pockets of the country remained loyal to Gaddafi.

As in Egypt – and in Cairo in particular – this required that people “lose the fear”. In Benghazi, this happened, and while some troops stayed loyal to Gaddafi, many didn’t (they were found bound and burned alive). Fighter pilots that were sent to bomb the city flew to Malta and demanded asylum. Many other Libyan diplomats defected and joined the ranks of the protesters. Benghazi was able to overrun the few Gaddafi supporters left and raise the rebel flag. But in the capital, none of this happened.

When protests started to break out in Tripoli, Gaddafi had enough fighters (along with paid mercenaries from other countries) who began terrorizing the populace. They fired from tanks and aircraft into crowds of peaceful unarmed protesters. At this point, the internet was still available and people in Libya were posting pictures and videos of the truly gruesome carnage. And my friend (who was still in communication with his large family back in Tripoli) was still optimistic when I talked to him, but Gaddafi’s assaults on the populace brought the fear back in Tripoli and allowed for him to project to the world that he still had support in the capital.

It’s hard to really get into the mind of someone like Gaddafi, but it’s not hard to see that from his speeches that it matters to him deeply that he’s loved by his people. And here he was faced with his entire nation standing up and telling him to fuck off. It was very similar to Mubarak, but Gaddafi isn’t Mubarak. And the Libyan Army isn’t an institution capable of rejecting a diseased head of state bent on massacring his populace in order to project an image to the world that he’s beloved.

At this point, there was still hope that the protesters could arm themselves and take on Gaddafi’s loyalists and paid fighters, but that hope was dashed in a flurry of intense military retribution on the general public. Tens of thousands started to flee to the Tunisian border. Gaddafi then started consolidating his military assets to reclaim cities that had raised the rebel flag. He repeatedly attacked Zawia, just west of Tripoli, by shelling residential areas. After several days of fighting, Gaddafi achieved his objective, to be able to set a scene where western reporters could broadcast to the world a scene of pro-Gaddafi supporters waving green flags and holding up his picture. It’s nearly impossible to know how many people died in order to set up this photo op. As was the case throughout the battles in Libya, dead bodies were picked up from the streets and taken away by the military. Hospitals were attacked and ambulances were often hijacked.

In the east, Gaddafi forces were able to continue along the main highway between Tripoli and Benghazi. Having the ability to fire from the air made it impossible for the now-armed but largely untrained opposition to stop them, especially in sparsely populated areas where it’s tough to hide. There was nothing stopping the advance on Benghazi, the second largest city in the country – and the heart of the newly formed revolution government. It would’ve been enormously wishful thinking to say that we weren’t staring down the possibility of a massacre that could’ve taken 100,000 lives. The Obama Administration had the military means to prevent a significant loss of life. And if Obama had not acted to wipe out Gaddafi’s troops and they did in Benghazi what they did in Zawia, you can be sure as hell that everyone would lay the blame for that massacre at Obama’s feet.

I recognize that there are a number of good counter-points to our intervention in Libya, and I’m still worried as hell that this situation will continue to deteriorate, but any argument that tries to dismiss the idea that a huge massacre was about to occur in Benghazi is not dialed in to what was going on there. And ultimately why I fall into the camp of the interventionists here is along the same lines of why these uprisings have managed to be so successful to this point. The citizens of the world are far more aware of what happens outside of their communities than ever before. And while this phenomenon can lead to greater understanding of one’s own state of being oppressed (as we’re seeing throughout the Middle East), it can also lead to greater expectations for those world powers who have the means to intervene on behalf of those being most oppressed. Of course, it would be considerably better if the Obama Administration were a little more consistent on when we intervene (see: Ivory Coast). But I still believe standing alongside the Libyan people here was still the right move, even if the outcome isn’t as triumphant as we’d all hope for.

Comments

  1. 1

    Dan B spews:

    Gene Sharp and his thorough research on the power of non-violent movements, stunning power, to create a crucible for representative democracies is key to understanding what happened in Tunisia, was brewing in Egypt and prevailed, what seems to be prevailing in Yemen, and what’s causing immense problems to the status-quo in Syria.

    Let’s say it loudly – dictatorships cannot endure a few moments after a broad base of the populace realizes they can place their power somewhere else. All they have to do is say “no” to the status-quo and yes to a simple clear vision.

    That’s coming through, via the internet, all over the world. Bread and circuses don’t stand a chance. That’s why powerful elites will attempt to corral the democratizing effects of the network. They’re all about control, which requires submission by the majority to exercise power. The majority don’t recognize their power when the circuses tell only stories of individual heroes. The power of non-violence is in forging community that doesn’t demean the individual hero but instead talks of the enormous power of heroic communities.

    That’s the story you won’t hear in the MSM. And if you do it will be parsed as propaganda from repressive states that called themselves communist or socialist.

  2. 2

    FricknFrack spews:

    Well written Lee! Rachel Maddow and Lawrence O’Donnell have been reporting a lot with Richard Engle.

    I’ve been watching also and feeling pessimistic. But, so hoping the protesters can turn it around.

    Sounds terrible but I admit I’m hoping one of Gaddafi’s closest people will realize his madness is spiraling out of control and simply ‘off’ him to save the country. One life vs. thousands of lives.

  3. 3

    spews:

    I heard Joe Wilson on a podcast say it was hard for the U.S. to justify intervention on the basis of national interest, i.e. oil – it could be replaced by higher production from Saudi Arabia (I disagreed with that). However the urging of allies to participate made it slightly easier. He thought that the UK and France didn’t want to deal with a possible refugee problem that could result from a hands-off policy.

    He also said he’d had dealings with Gaddafi during his service as a diplomat in Africa and concluded that Gaddafi was not the kind of guy anyone would like to see being a head of state, ie. the man is crazy.

  4. 4

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    Lee,

    The moral and intellectual case for intervention is incoherent and based on the faulty premise that we know what’s better for those folks…more than they do. Worse, the chosen instrument of your “persuasion” is war. This is just warmed over cruise missile diplomacy, and history shows the most likely outcome will be utter failure.

    You might try reading other opinions on this:

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

    Thanks.

  5. 6

    Shemp spews:

    If you are such a humanitarian, why are you ignoring the Ivory Coast? The Eastern Congo?

    A humanitarian argument is inconsistent on its face.

    If you are going to be honest, argue that acting like a savior makes you feel all warm and fuzzy inside and this war makes a great teevee war.

  6. 7

    spews:

    @6
    You might want to read through my entire my post before commenting.

    @4
    The moral and intellectual case for intervention is incoherent and based on the faulty premise that we know what’s better for those folks

    No, it’s not. As I explained in this post, the case for intervention was rooted in a desire to stop an impending massacre. And I recounted the events that occurred in Libya showing that to be true.

    I’d already read the link you posted as Kain pointed it out from his Twitter feed. It also refers to “dubious humanitarian…reasons”. The point of my post is that you can certainly find reasons to oppose this military action, but you can’t pretend the reality is something it isn’t. If we didn’t clear out Gaddafi’s forces, a large-scale massacre of civilians would have occurred. That’s simply a fact.

  7. 8

    spews:

    Sheesh! Fuck the white man’s burden ok?

    This is all about the white man’s interest.

    It’s much, much better to pursue our interests with legitimate governments than with crazed mass-murderers.

    The Bushies said the world changed after 9/11 – well the world’s changed even more after Egypt and Tunisia!

    Shit what would Bush have done? Quiet diplomacy? Uh.. Hell yeah!

  8. 10

    Right Stuff spews:

    Lee,

    First, IMO, nice post.

    In terms of Libya? Better late than never I suppose. However, we are wildly inconsistent in terms of our policy. Inconsistent in what our policy is within the world community, inconsistent within the military, and administration….That is not good….

    If we didn’t clear out Gaddafi’s forces, a large-scale massacre of civilians would have occurred. That’s simply a fact.

    We just have no way to determine this…Faced with overpowering force and the knowledge that the regime is willing to use it, “the rebels” may have put down their arms and melted back into the population thus avoiding a massacre…
    It’s a civil war. It’s ugly and messy.

    If our stated policy is “ghadaffi must go” then why wait for him to recapture all of that territory? If in fact he was beaten back into Tripoli, why let him regain the initiative? To me it shows a lack of leadership to define the policy and act on it.

    With regards to choosing now to intervene?
    The Obama Administration had the military means to prevent a significant loss of life. And if Obama had not acted to wipe out Gaddafi’s troops and they did in Benghazi what they did in Zawia, you can be sure as hell that everyone would lay the blame for that massacre at Obama’s feet.

    The US has always had this capability…
    What of Iran? Yemen? Bahrain?
    Massacre? What of Sudan? Somalia?
    Opressive regimes that massacre their people? China? N. Korea?
    Also, there is a significant populace in Libya that supports Ghadaffi….It’s civil war…

    Civil wars are brutal. No doubt. We don’t involve ourselves in them unless there is a direct interest for USA… I don’t see that in Libya…To throw out the “humanitarian” card is weak and fails the sniff test. If we are supporting British and French interests because we want them to “like and respect us” then call it that, and let the votes fall where they may…

  9. 11

    Politically Incorrect spews:

    Just get out of these Middle Eastern adventures. No good is going to come from these things. We’re just creating more Islamic enemies to trouble us for years to come.

  10. 12

    darryldarryldarryl spews:

    Well-reasoned post Lee. The Middle East reminds me of the alligator pop-up game. When you slam one down with your fist, 2 more pop-up somewhere else. And in this case, the game never ends.
    I do worry about terrorist groups getting a foothold in numerous Middle East countries. They really have the only organizations. That’s the problem. You kick out evil dictators like Qaddafi and who is next? No one knows.
    I guess you have to just let them kill each other and sort this out. You cannot possibly clean up Libya or any of these other countries without ground troops to assist the reformers.
    You can bomb away and make it more difficult on the regimes…but they can protect the regimes thru terror.
    We do need to make sure these countries do not have WMD or Nukes. But with conventional weapons, they can only kill each other pretty much. Sad, but the alternative is the alligator game.

  11. 13

    proud leftist spews:

    Well-stated, Lee. I tend to agree with you. Libya presented no good options and Obama faced criticism whatever he chose to do (of course, Republicans criticize him if he chooses oatmeal over poached eggs for breakfast). Waiting for international consensus on intervention had some negative consequences, but was the right thing to do.

  12. 14

    Zotz sez: Teahadists are Koch suckers! spews:

    “Our” military: Gangsters for capitalism.

    We may not directly benefit from Libya’s oil (1.7 mb/d) but global capitalism does.

    Please make a note of it. Everything starts to make sense once you do.

    The evidence clearly shows that Col K was about to massacre his citizens. For the Libyan people, it is fortunate that a humanitarian pretext coincided with the interests of our global capitalist masters.

  13. 15

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @1 Nonviolent movements can be powerful, but there are limits to their power. The Bolsheviks kept power in Russia for seven decades by killing millions and maintaining control through a brutal and violent police state. The only people who came close to overthrowing Hitler were those who used violence against him. Pol Pot was brought down by a foreign military invasion. Does anyone really believe that a killer like Gadhafi can be ejected from power by street demonstrations?

    The U.S. has all the justification it needs to use whatever force is required to remove Gadhafi from power — or, better yet, kill him like the mad dog he is: Lockerbie. Libyan insiders have now confirmed what has been suspected and actually obvious (but, until now, unproven) all along: Gadhafi ordered the bombing of an airliner full of innocent Americans. That was an act of war against the United States and a crime against humanity. Kill this bastard … just kill him. He has a only a third-world military force protecting him, much of which is made up of mercenaries who will melt away the moment they realize they’re facing overwhelming force, certain defeat, and a high probabiliy of death. Park four aircraft carriers off the coastline and they’ll didi-mau back to the countries they came from. Arm the rebels with tanks, artillery, machineguns, RPGs, and AKs (but only a 1-month supply of spare parts and ammo). They’ll finish off the remnants of Gadhafi’s army; we won’t need American or NATO ground forces.

    Peaceful demonstrations won’t topple a well-armed dictator who’s willing to kill unarmed protesters in the streets — and then use his secret police to round up and kill those who escape. Expecially one who knows he’s a dead man if his enemies ever get their hands on him.

  14. 16

    Right Stuff spews:

    Waiting for international consensus on intervention had some negative consequences, but was the right thing to do.

    If the mission has always been humaitarian, then waiting defeated that purpose. Ghadaffi was able to kill and capture back much of the towns and territory he lost….

    Also to continue my comments above….

    Those “rebels” that faced “massacre” are not unarmed, innocent civilians….
    Don’t get me wrong, I support them wanting to overthrow Ghadaffi, but to say they are unarmed civilians going to slaughter at the hands of Ghadaffi is false…

  15. 17

    John425 spews:

    Lemme see if I got this right. It is OK for Obama to go to war in Libya (without the Congressional approval that Bush had)and now the moral authority exists to remove a dictator?
    Funny how you guys wouldn’t go for that under Bush.
    Now, of course, Obama cedes his duties as Commander-in-Chief to NATO and once again gets to just stand by and vote–”Present”.

  16. 18

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    11, 12 — Would you two cynics have written off the people of Kosovo, too? Our wingnut friends criticized Clinton for stopping a genocide at a cost of zero American combat deaths. In the end, toppling Milosevicz cost almost nothing and saved perhaps hundreds of thousands of lives. The wingnuts were wrong about Kosovo, and you’re wrong about Libya. It wasn’t feasible or moral to overthrow Soviet Communism by launching a nuclear first strike against the USSR and hoping we got all their nukes because they could hit us back, like some rightwing crazies wanted to do, but there are times when murderous regimes are vulnerable and this is one of those times. Milosevicz was pushed over with not much more than a feather, and once Gadhafi’s air power, tanks, and artillery are neutralized he won’t have much left. On the other hand, the costs of leaving him in power are just too high.

  17. 19

    Roger Rabbit spews:

    @17 Bush didn’t have the approval of either the U.N. or the U.S. Congress to wage war as a first resort, and the approvals he did get — to wage war as a last resort — were obtained under false pretenses.

    Bush Sr. did the right thing by ejecting Saddam from Kuwait. Many people, including those on the right, criticized him for not going farther and finished off Saddam but he stayed within his mandate. Probably the main limiting factor was that the Soviet Union wouldn’t have stood for such a large expansion of U.S. power in the Middle East.

    Sure, Saddam was an odious dictator, but by 2003 he was contained and defanged. A case could be made for getting rid of him, but Bush and his fellow Republicans bungled the job so badly they gave “just war” a bad name.

    There is no comparison between Obama and Bush. Obama is not the incompetent cokehead that Bush was. It’s a stretch to claim Obama has committed the U.S. to a war in Libya. All he’s doing is using cruise missiles and airstrikes to take out Gadhafi’s heavy-duty military assets, just as Clinton did in Kosovo. That’s probably all that’s needed, the Libyan rebels will do the rest. This isn’t going to cost a trillion dollars or 4,000 American lives.

    Funny how wingnut idiots like you beat the drum for costly and unproductive military adventures, but are against quick and inexpensive interventions that save tens of thousands of Muslim lives — whoops, maybe that’s the problem, Clinton and Obama saved people that America’s rightwing racist pigs don’t like.

  18. 20

    Michael spews:

    Um… OK, whole “this is inconsistent with ____” meme does nothing for me. When have humans every acted in a consistent manner?

    In Libya the conditions all came together in a manner that we could help people out, so we did. That we didn’t do this else where isn’t really relevant.

  19. 21

    proud leftist spews:

    Michael @ 20
    Excellent point. As we know, “consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.” The intervention in Libya was morally correct because of a number of considerations; as you point out, the pieces just all fell together. Of course, wingnuts don’t do nuance, they don’t recognize relativity. So, your point is lost on them. They will just bitch about Obama because they can.

  20. 22

    spews:

    @10
    Thanks for your reply. I’m watching my son (not very well at this second, though) and about to head out to meet with a software startup this afternoon, but your comment raises a couple of good questions and other points I wanted to elaborate on. If I get some time this weekend, I’ll post up a full reply.

  21. 23

    rhp6033 spews:

    Faced with overpowering force and the knowledge that the regime is willing to use it, “the rebels” may have put down their arms and melted back into the population thus avoiding a massacre…

    That is true only if the dictator cares about the lives of the population.

    In Gadaffi’s case, there is ample evidence that he would be willing to kill every occupant of Bengazi just to make sure he got every rebel still in the city. And he might destroy a few neighboring villages while he was at it, just to make sure everyone else in Libya got the point. His point is: it’s not enough to not join the revolution yourself, you have to make sure your neighbors and co-workers don’t join it either, or you will all suffer the same fate.

  22. 24

    rhp6033 spews:

    Quite frankly, I’m still conflicted about this conflict. I’d like nothing better than to say that it’s Libya’s problem, we shouldn’t be involved in another nation’s civil wars.

    But when faced with a humanitarian crisis, such as in Bosnia and other conflicts of that sort, I feel compelled to try to make up an exception. I was even glad when Vietnam invaded Cambodia, which had me cheering one repressive regime because it was less repressive than the one it was attacking.

    It’s awfully hard to articulate, it reminds me of the Supreme Court justice who finally gave up trying to define illegal pornagraphy from “art”, saying ultimately “I know it when I see it”. Not exactly a sound basis for communicating foreign policy principles, I agree, but that’s the whole problem.

    But New Gingrich doesn’t seem to be burdened with any such doubts:

    (1) On Fox News on March 7th Newt claimed he “would have invaded” without first trying to seek partners in the international community.

    (2) Then not two weeks later on ABC he critized Obama for instituting a no-fly zone, saying that the plan didn’t have sufficient international support, a clear goal, or an exit strategy.

    (3) When faced with his inconsistencies, he went on Twitter and tried to argue that he wasn’t really inconsistent, that it was really Obama’s fault for not being clear enough which caused some to not understand his comments sufficiently – even though his “explanation” still is in clear contrast to his March 7th statement.

    (4) Now, following an old Newt Gingrich strategy, he intends to avoid any further discussion of his hypocracy, claiming that there was no discrepency and he’s already explained that, and he doesn’t intend to discuss it any further.

  23. 26

    John425 spews:

    The wabbit says: “Obama is not the incompetent cokehead that Bush was.”

    Yuk, yuk and 2 guffaws. It was never proven that Bush did cocaine whereas Obama admitted he was a cokehead. Did I say “was a cokehead”? Obama’s mismanagement style strongly suggests he never gave up the stuff.

  24. 27

    Right Stuff spews:

    In Gadaffi’s case, there is ample evidence that he would be willing to kill every occupant of Bengazi just to make sure he got every rebel still in the city. And he might destroy a few neighboring villages while he was at it, just to make sure everyone else in Libya got the point

    What is this evidence? I’m not being flip, or sarcastic, I want to know if I’m missing this..

    Saddam used WMD’s on his “own people” and that is a demonstrated example of what you describe. I don’t see that with Ghadaffi. I see him as more of a terrorist of his own people than an all out genocidal maniac…
    Are there mass graves in Libya that we are missing?

  25. 28

    Shemp spews:

    Uhh Lee, I did read your entire post. You didn’t make your case. You argue your position with vague terms, logical inconsistencies, and an army of straw men. A big chunk of your evidence in an anecdote from a “friend”. Nice solid evidence there, pal. And I’m sort of shocked that you, of all people, as someone who witnessed Iraq and Afghanistan, fall for this humanitarian BS and can’t see through the lies. You are stuck in warm & fuzzy savior dream dood, and you don’t even know it. A year from now you will.

  26. 29

    Shemp spews:

    “but any argument that tries to dismiss the idea that a huge massacre was about to occur in Benghazi is not dialed in to what was going on there”

    Straw man argument and a totally inconsistent point.

    The argument that the opponents have made is intervention will make things worse, is totally unplanned and confused, the costs far exceed any benefit, and the potential for blow back Osama style. Nobody argues what you claim.

    Straw man.

    Inconsistent: Eastern Congo = worse than Libya.
    Ivory Coast – soon to be worse than Libya
    Somalia – worse than Libya
    Sudan – much, much worse than Libya
    and so on and so on and so on.

    SO – Why the humanitarian concerns now? Because you have a Libyan friend?

  27. 30

    Shemp spews:

    For reference to show inconsistency of the humanitarian argument for intervention:

    People in the Congo are still dying at a rate of an estimated 45,000 per month; 2,700,000 people have died since 2004. This death toll is due to widespread disease and famine; reports indicate that almost half of the individuals killed are children under the age of 5

    That freaking totally dwarfs what was going on in Libya.

    So where is the call for humanitarian intervention in the Congo??

    Sorry Lee, I really do respect you, but you are a total sucker on Libya. You’ve been had.

  28. 31

    Upton spews:

    Oh, I see. I’ve got it now.

    Democratic wars-GOOD

    Republican wars-BAD

    Yeah, quibble over a few details to try and justify Obama lobbing over 100 cruise missiles into Iraq.

    What hypocrisy..

  29. 32

    proud leftist spews:

    31
    Thank you for your partisan pap. Your contribution to the dialogue is priceless.

  30. 33

    Upton spews:

    32.

    Thank you for proving my point..as you were no doubt opposed to both Iraq wars.

    However, when a Democrat cranks up the war machine..it’s all good, huh?

  31. 34

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Good stuff, Shemp. But be wary…for it’s not that far a step from “why aren’t we going there (Congo, Ivory Coast, wherever…) to “well, why not?” The thing is, we intervene because we can. The locale and the reason doesn’t matter. It’s part and parcel of being The Empire. There’s always a justification.

    I thought the left in this country had worked through this White Man’s Burden stuff. Looks like we gotta’ concede ourselves to that Higher Power and sign back up in a 12 step program.

    The presumption that we know what’s good for Libyans more than the Libyans do is beyond presumption….it borders on hubristic excess or even narcissism.

  32. 35

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    For the billion already spent in Libya, we could have rained food and medicine down on the Congo or Darfur and saved tens of thousands.

    But cranking up the war machine….piece of cake.

  33. 36

    Proud To Be An Ass spews:

    Lee,

    More from Freddie at L’Hote:

    “Since I began writing about this, I have been buffeted with the patient yet aggrieved teachings of decent liberals who are far too certain of their own decency. They have lectured me about many things, but at the heart of it is the same dynamic: the insistence that they are so wise and so well-meaning that they are able to be stewards of the Libyan people. That such a situation is literally unimaginable to them– that the idea that a foreign power might occupy this country and dictate terms is so foreign that it can hardly be rationally countenanced– is a large part of why they can so glibly advocate such a course of action. For all the talk of humanitarianism (and never forget, war itself is a humanitarian crisis), lurking and stomping in the lizard brain of liberal interventionism is a failure to see those who we are “helping” as fully human. You would not forcibly choose the color of a friend’s curtains; you would forcibly choose the government for millions of people you have never met. You can dress up what we are doing in any way you want but that is the reality. Perhaps this contradiction should provoke contemplation.”

    In my opinion, these are very wise words.

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

  34. 37

    Upton spews:

    Let me correct my post 31, I obviously meant Obama was lobbing missiles into Libya, not Iraq. It’s just that the justifications for the particular actions seem so similar, it’s hard to see much difference.

    MARCH 19, 2011
    OBAMA: ‘Today we are part of a broad coalition. We are answering the calls of a threatened people. And we are acting in the interests of the United States and the world’…

    MARCH 19, 2003
    BUSH: ‘American and coalition forces are in the early stages of military operations to disarm Iraq, to free its people and to defend the world from grave danger’…

  35. 38

    rhp6033 spews:

    Well, logistics and location are a consideration. Libya is an easy place to project force – we already have a fleet in the Mediteranian, and as last week showed, we didn’t have too much difficulty reinforcing it within a week or so. And in this case, we have lots of other options as well if our European allies are being cooperative: French air bases in southern France, NATO bases in Italy, Greece, Turkey, and Malta, etc.

    But the Congo???? No easy way to project air power there (bombers, yes, but fighter cover no), and the logistics of putting boots on the ground and keeping them supplied would be a nightmare. Ivory Coast is another matter, but it might take a couple weeks to get enough assets in place off the coast.

    And we’ve already tried Somalia, that didn’t work out too well. We could try Sudan, given a week’s sailing time and assuming we can afford to spare the naval forces from the Persian Gulf to the Red Sea, but that would be a long-term committment.

    So I guess one of the factors to be considered in trying to formulate a consistent policy is – do we really have a chance to make a difference?

  36. 39

    proud leftist spews:

    33
    When you’re completely full of shit, you really should go to the pharmacy and pick out a good laxative. Your pharmacist can help you select one. I was against the Iraq from the get-go, and history certainly has proven that opposition to be well-founded. On the other hand, I supported the initial incursion into Afghanistan. I now think we need to get the hell out.

  37. 40

    spews:

    @30
    If world powers decided to intervene in Congo for humanitarian reasons, I would very likely support that. I think you’re the one creating strawmen here.

  38. 41

    Upton spews:

    39.

    Hmm.. lets take a look:

    proud leftist:

    Iraq-Bad
    Afghanistan-Good
    Libya-Good

    Upton:

    Iraq-Bad
    Afghanistan-Bad
    Libya0-Bad

    Looking at that, I have to ask…just who is the REAL hypocrite, and who is the TRUE leftist?

  39. 42

    Michael spews:

    @35

    For the billion already spent in Libya, we could have rained food and medicine down on the Congo or Darfur and saved tens of thousands.

    The vast majority of the billions spent in Libya were spent long before the shooting started. The best we can do is hope those weapons do some good and the ones, like the missiles, that are used up are not replaced.

    For the billion already spent in Libya, we could have rained food and medicine down on the Congo or Darfur and saved tens of thousands.

    When we “rain down” food and medicine on places like the Congo and Darfur most of it gets snatched up by warlords and corrupt government officials and sold on the black market to enhance their personal wealth and to by guns and bullets for their goon squads. There’s very, very, little that we can do for people in places like the Congo and Darfur.

  40. 43

    spews:

    @41
    Sorry, but that’s just silly. It’s possible believe that some wars are worth fighting and others aren’t without being a hypocrite.

  41. 44

    Michael spews:

    @41

    Nah, that just shows who has the more ridged world view. Different times and different places call for different responses.

  42. 45

    proud leftist spews:

    41
    Please tell me how you have established hypocrisy in my position? I believe there can be just wars. Determining whether military intervention in another nation’s affairs requires a weighing of facts, values, and objectives. There is no precise formula. Such ambiguity must make your head explode.

  43. 46

    Upton spews:

    43,44,45..

    Yeah, sure.

    “Some wars are worth fighting for”

    “Different times and different places call for different responses”

    “I believe there can be just wars”

    All three of you have the Administration war talking points down pat don’t you? All you’re doing is recycling to same old BS..to try and justify the US being the world’s policeman.

    When the real truth of the matter, though all three of you will never admit it, is the only significant difference between Obama’s wars and those of Bush is that Obama is a D and Bush was an R.

  44. 47

    proud leftist spews:

    46
    Really, man, wash it all out with a good laxative. The dike will burst and you’ll feel a whole lot better.

  45. 48

    spews:

    I bet these right wingers can’t wait to buy oil from Gaddafi after he slaughters his people.

    But thanks to the U.N. and the coalition that bit of nastiness will mitigated.

    Bush took Libya off the State Sponsors of Terror list and Condi made nice with him. We didn’t import Libyan oil before that and we do that now.

    This is one where we’re going to come out on top.

  46. 49

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    This is one where we’re going to come out on top

    I’ll lay odds you will be disappointed.

  47. 50

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    @42: So the justification for intervention comes down to this, our chances of success? That’s the criteria you want to lean on when it comes to state sponsored intervention in civil wars? You do realize that when we do so, we’re turning people we know little, if anything about, into pink mist and burned flesh?

    I believe you really really have to re-examine that premise.

  48. 51

    spews:

    49 – I can live with that. I’d be more disappointed if Obama went the Raygunesque “quiet diplomacy” route and then lost political ground to the likes of the odious Newt Gingrich.

    Right now he’s exploding their pinheads and I’m loving it.

  49. 52

    Michael spews:

    @50

    So the justification for intervention comes down to this, our chances of success?

    Huh? Not sure how you got that from what I was saying, it’s certainly not what I meant.

  50. 53

    Zotz sez: Teahadists are Koch suckers! spews:

    @48: And the fucking idiot pussyman holds hands with and kisses Saudi tyrants.

  51. 54

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    Michael @52 responds: “Huh? Not sure how you got that from what I was saying, it’s certainly not what I meant.”

    but, but, but…this is what you wrote:

    “There’s very, very, little that we can do for people in places like the Congo and Darfur.”

    And this is, presumably, justification for doing noting? I can understand that. But how do we get to justifying what is being done in Libya?

    There is a big disconnect here that I believe you are not seeing. Please revisit. Thanks.

  52. 55

    proud leftist spews:

    Proud @ 54
    Congo and Darfur are not going to benefit from military action, not in the short run, at least. There is too much chaos, and too little by way of targets. I am a pacifist by nature. But, way back in college, I read Michael Walzer’s “Just and Unjust Wars.” It is one of the most influential books I’ve read in my lifetime. Sometimes, killing others is just to save others. Intervention in Libya meets all the criteria for going in.

  53. 56

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    proud leftist @ 55
    We are choosing sides in another country’s politics. We know virtually nothing about these factions. However, we have made the facile assumption that one side is “evil”, so now we have taken it upon ourself to justify killing them. By doing so, we blind ourself to the fact that Qaddafi’s supporters (yes, he apparently has them–have you ever stopped to ask yourself why?)are human beings. We have unilaterally decided to take away their liberty. Worse, being by far the most powerful military nation on earth, such morally bankrupt decisions come easily to us.

    There is something seriously wrong with this kind of thinking.

    Thanks.

  54. 57

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    There is too much chaos.

    Ah. So the use of explosive ordinance under some certain limited chaotic situations will reduce chaos?

    And here I though war was chaotic. Silly me.

  55. 58

    Proud to be an Ass spews:

    OMG! Gaddafi was ‘planning’ to massacre his own people!

    So we turn a blind eye to what happened in Bahrain why exactly? Because their feudal rulers already did it?

    Where are the cruise missiles? Not enough of them for Hamad bin Hamad Al Khalifa?

  56. 59

    spews:

    @10
    RS, I don’t think my response here warrants a new front page post, but I wanted to respond to your comment.

    In terms of Libya? Better late than never I suppose. However, we are wildly inconsistent in terms of our policy. Inconsistent in what our policy is within the world community, inconsistent within the military, and administration….That is not good….

    There’s obviously a lot of truth to that and I called that out at the end of my post. As I mentioned, I could support international action in places like Ivory Coast or the Congo, where those in power have been willing to be brutal to hold onto illegitimate power.

    We just have no way to determine this…Faced with overpowering force and the knowledge that the regime is willing to use it, “the rebels” may have put down their arms and melted back into the population thus avoiding a massacre…

    This simply wasn’t a realistic possibility. In other cities, Gaddafi’s troops went in with tanks and aircraft and shelled civilian neighborhoods and ordered his militiamen to break into homes and terrorize people. A nominal “surrender” by the rebels was not what Gaddafi is after. He wanted to ensure that folks in Benghazi would be afraid to challenge him again.

    If our stated policy is “ghadaffi must go” then why wait for him to recapture all of that territory?

    Roger Rabbit and I had this argument earlier on in one of the previous threads. He was arguing the same thing as you. My position was that the international community should allow the rebels to win the battle on their own terms if they can, but if Gaddafi threatens to massacre Benghazi, we should step in. I still think that was the right thing to do.

    If in fact he was beaten back into Tripoli, why let him regain the initiative? To me it shows a lack of leadership to define the policy and act on it.

    He was never really “beaten back” to Tripoli. This was never a matter of a military advance by rebels. It was a matter of the people daring to stand up to the regime and raise a different flag. Once Gaddafi starting fighting back, the people were able to defend their cities, but only for a short amount of time. A rag-tag military force set out from Benghazi to march on Tripoli, but it couldn’t even get half-way there.

    The US has always had this capability…
    What of Iran? Yemen? Bahrain?

    Iran is 10 times larger than Libya and the government there has significantly more support. Plus, we’d have no allies. There’s not much we can do about Iran.

    The President of Yemen is going to step down soon without us having to do anything.

    Bahrain is a bad situation for us. It’s worth noting that what the Bahraini government is doing is child’s play compared to what Gaddafi is doing, but it’s still bad. But with the Saudi involvement, we can’t do crap.

    Massacre? What of Sudan? Somalia?

    Sudan was an unfortunate situation because at its peak of heinousness, Iraq was boiling. It made it very difficult for us to do anything.

    Somalia’s a mess, but isn’t really a case of a government killing its people. There is no government and people are just killing to survive.

    Opressive regimes that massacre their people? China? N. Korea?
    Also, there is a significant populace in Libya that supports Ghadaffi….It’s civil war…

    North Korea and China is a sticky situation, one that western powers have little ability to influence.

    There appears to be a subset of the Libyan population that still supports Gaddafi, but I still don’t consider what’s happening there to be a civil war. I consider it to be a government trying to massacre its citizens en masse in order to keep them from publicly expressing their dissatisfaction with Gaddafi.

    It’s easy to assume that the U.S. has ulterior motives because of Libyan oil, but the bigger factor playing into international action here is a concern over a refugee crisis in Europe. That’s why France, UK, and Italy are involved. Even with that, though, as I mentioned at the end of my post, with a shrinking world whose warts sit prominently in view on our computer screens, it becomes more incumbent upon world powers to act in ways that prevent humanitarian disasters. That was the main thrust of this post.

    Thanks for the comment. Always good chatting with you…

  57. 60

    Right Stuff spews:

    Hey Lee,

    “It’s easy to assume that the U.S. has ulterior motives because of Libyan oil, but the bigger factor playing into international action here is a concern over a refugee crisis in Europe. That’s why France, UK, and Italy are involved. Even with that, though, as I mentioned at the end of my post, with a shrinking world whose warts sit prominently in view on our computer screens, it becomes more incumbent upon world powers to act in ways that prevent humanitarian disasters. That was the main thrust of this post.”

    Ok, so I agree with this. I don’t think this has ever REALLY been about some greater humanitarian effort with respect to Ghadaffi mass killing the people of Libya.. From my window on the interweb, and only basic knowledge of Libya, hard to determine what’s really going on…REALLY.
    The Big BUT is that like many countries on the African continent and Arabian Peninsula, it’s all about tribes. Tribes and tribal loyalties. When I wrote that a significant population in Libya supports Ghadaffi, I mean that in the tribal sense. Like Afghanistan, the western notion of “government of the people for the people” doesn’t seem attainable..There isn’t a desire for freedom and self determination in the western sense. The tribal blood loyalties cannot be broken.
    So where does that leave the USA?
    “Freedom fighting rebels rising up against a dictator or monarch” connects with our (United States) sense of what’s right and just..I just don’t see the other half of that equation, which is a desire for freedom, self determination and a system of government that serves it’s citizenry vs dominates it. All we are doing is swapping one “Tribal Tyrant” for another…

    Another note about our role in the world community.
    There are maybe 2 or 3 coutries that have the equipment, training, logistics, skill and resources to implement a “no fly zone” for any extended period of time…. That number shrinks when outside a counties immediate sphere of influence. Whether we like it or not, the United States Military is really IT when it comes to these “policies” NATO? UN?
    Toothless without the US Military. So whenever we hear how “NATO is taking over control”….you see where I’m going…

    The United States is now running a sustained military operation in Libya. Time to call it what it is, and state exactly what our goals are, and end state….

  58. 61

    spews:

    Another note about our role in the world community.
    There are maybe 2 or 3 coutries that have the equipment, training, logistics, skill and resources to implement a “no fly zone” for any extended period of time…. That number shrinks when outside a counties immediate sphere of influence. Whether we like it or not, the United States Military is really IT when it comes to these “policies”

    That’s true, and what I’m saying is that with that power – and with a world that has become much more a fishbowl – what the world will expect from us will continue to expand, whether we like it or not.

    The United States is now running a sustained military operation in Libya. Time to call it what it is, and state exactly what our goals are, and end state….

    I agree, and I suspect that Obama’s speech on Monday night will be focused on that. Of course, words are always easier than actions.

  59. 62

    spews: