Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Morning read: Stratfor on "Libya, the West, and the Narrative of Democracy" 

For your morning digestion, we have reproduced below Stratfor's report (reproduced with permission) on the intervention in Libya and the perhaps confused rationale therefor. Among other things, the ex ante reasoning appears flimsier than for either invasion of Iraq -- Libya not representing a meaningful external threat -- and even for Kosovo, the main difference from the former case involving the use of ground troops which portend occupation. Of course, there is no reason to believe that Libya will not require occupation when all is said and done.

We have heard no explanation for how the Libya intervention fits in to the core objectives of American foreign policy under Barack Obama, although that is not very surprising since (with three exceptions relating to energy security, climate change, and preventing nuclear proliferation) Obama's foreign policy objectives are more an "I'm not Bush" to-do list than an actual strategy.

My own suspicion is that the Obama administration is most worried about a humanitarian disaster akin to Rwanda -- not so much that it would happen, but that something that could be compared to Rwanda would happen on Barack Obama's watch in a country easily accessible to the United States Navy. That, and it never looks good for a Democratic president, who have all since the Carter years been at risk of looking soft, to be less hawkish than the French.

Richard Fernandez of The Belmont Club is, by the way, at least as baffled as I am, and points to the various ways in which this intervention could unfold quite badly for the United States, including scenarios that would directly offend the putative objectives of American foreign policy under Obama.

But Washington will not escape unscathed. By weirdly going along with the Paris and London only to leave them in the lurch Washington will humiliate its strongest allies in Europe. The damage to NATO and the Western alliance will be considerable, even leaving aside Turkey’s feelings. It will call into question whether America can still be relied on to be the regional hegemon, a question that is being asked all over the world...

The goal of aspiring regional powers is simple: to scatter US alliances in the area, either with a view to Finlandizing them or getting them to switch allegiances. And here is Barack Obama, handing it to them on a silver platter. By letting France and Britain get on the carpet then yanking it out from under them, Barack and Hillary are doing a phenomenally effective job of destroying the faith their predecessors sought to build.

In every part of the periphery allies are asking themselves: can we trust Obama?

This is at least a little ironic, since "re-energizing America's alliances" is one of the "guiding principles" of American foreign policy under Obama.

Anyway, read Stratfor (below) and Fernandez, and then please comment.
Forces from the United States and some European countries have intervened in Libya. Under U.N. authorization, they have imposed a no-fly zone in Libya, meaning they will shoot down any Libyan aircraft that attempts to fly within Libya. In addition, they have conducted attacks against aircraft on the ground, airfields, air defenses and the command, control and communication systems of the Libyan government, and French and U.S. aircraft have struck against Libyan armor and ground forces. There also are reports of European and Egyptian special operations forces deploying in eastern Libya, where the opposition to the government is centered, particularly around the city of Benghazi. In effect, the intervention of this alliance has been against the government of Moammar Gadhafi, and by extension, in favor of his opponents in the east.

The alliance’s full intention is not clear, nor is it clear that the allies are of one mind. The U.N. Security Council resolution clearly authorizes the imposition of a no-fly zone. By extension, this logically authorizes strikes against airfields and related targets. Very broadly, it also defines the mission of the intervention as protecting civilian lives. As such, it does not specifically prohibit the presence of ground forces, though it does clearly state that no “foreign occupation force” shall be permitted on Libyan soil. It can be assumed they intended that forces could intervene in Libya but could not remain in Libya after the intervention. What this means in practice is less than clear.

There is no question that the intervention is designed to protect Gadhafi’s enemies from his forces. Gadhafi had threatened to attack “without mercy” and had mounted a sustained eastward assault that the rebels proved incapable of slowing. Before the intervention, the vanguard of his forces was on the doorstep of Benghazi. The protection of the eastern rebels from Gadhafi’s vengeance coupled with attacks on facilities under Gadhafi’s control logically leads to the conclusion that the alliance wants regime change, that it wants to replace the Gadhafi government with one led by the rebels.

But that would be too much like the invasion of Iraq against Saddam Hussein, and the United Nations and the alliance haven’t gone that far in their rhetoric, regardless of the logic of their actions. Rather, the goal of the intervention is explicitly to stop Gadhafi’s threat to slaughter his enemies, support his enemies but leave the responsibility for the outcome in the hands of the eastern coalition. In other words — and this requires a lot of words to explain — they want to intervene to protect Gadhafi’s enemies, they are prepared to support those enemies (though it is not clear how far they are willing to go in providing that support), but they will not be responsible for the outcome of the civil war.

The Regional Context

To understand this logic, it is essential to begin by considering recent events in North Africa and the Arab world and the manner in which Western governments interpreted them. Beginning with Tunisia, spreading to Egypt and then to the Arabian Peninsula, the last two months have seen widespread unrest in the Arab world. Three assumptions have been made about this unrest. The first was that it represented broad-based popular opposition to existing governments, rather than representing the discontent of fragmented minorities — in other words, that they were popular revolutions. Second, it assumed that these revolutions had as a common goal the creation of a democratic society. Third, it assumed that the kind of democratic society they wanted was similar to European-American democracy, in other words, a constitutional system supporting Western democratic values.

Each of the countries experiencing unrest was very different. For example, in Egypt, while the cameras focused on demonstrators, they spent little time filming the vast majority of the country that did not rise up. Unlike 1979 in Iran, the shopkeepers and workers did not protest en masse. Whether they supported the demonstrators in Tahrir Square is a matter of conjecture. They might have, but the demonstrators were a tiny fraction of Egyptian society, and while they clearly wanted a democracy, it is less than clear that they wanted a liberal democracy. Recall that the Iranian Revolution created an Islamic Republic more democratic than its critics would like to admit, but radically illiberal and oppressive. In Egypt, it is clear that Mubarak was generally loathed but not clear that the regime in general was being rejected. It is not clear from the outcome what will happen now. Egypt may stay as it is, it may become an illiberal democracy or it may become a liberal democracy.

Consider also Bahrain. Clearly, the majority of the population is Shiite, and resentment toward the Sunni government is apparent. It should be assumed that the protesters want to dramatically increase Shiite power, and elections should do the trick. Whether they want to create a liberal democracy fully aligned with the U.N. doctrines on human rights is somewhat more problematic.

Egypt is a complicated country, and any simple statement about what is going on is going to be wrong. Bahrain is somewhat less complex, but the same holds there. The idea that opposition to the government means support for liberal democracy is a tremendous stretch in all cases — and the idea that what the demonstrators say they want on camera is what they actually want is problematic. Even more problematic in many cases is the idea that the demonstrators in the streets simply represent a universal popular will.

Nevertheless, a narrative on what has happened in the Arab world has emerged and has become the framework for thinking about the region. The narrative says that the region is being swept by democratic revolutions (in the Western sense) rising up against oppressive regimes. The West must support these uprisings gently. That means that they must not sponsor them but at the same time act to prevent the repressive regimes from crushing them.

This is a complex maneuver. The West supporting the rebels will turn it into another phase of Western imperialism, under this theory. But the failure to support the rising will be a betrayal of fundamental moral principles. Leaving aside whether the narrative is accurate, reconciling these two principles is not easy — but it particularly appeals to Europeans with their ideological preference for “soft power.”

The West has been walking a tightrope of these contradictory principles; Libya became the place where they fell off. According to the narrative, what happened in Libya was another in a series of democratic uprisings, but in this case suppressed with a brutality outside the bounds of what could be tolerated. Bahrain apparently was inside the bounds, and Egypt was a success, but Libya was a case in which the world could not stand aside while Gadhafi destroyed a democratic uprising. Now, the fact that the world had stood aside for more than 40 years while Gadhafi brutalized his own and other people was not the issue. In the narrative being told, Libya was no longer an isolated tyranny but part of a widespread rising — and the one in which the West’s moral integrity was being tested in the extreme. Now was different from before.

Of course, as with other countries, there was a massive divergence between the narrative and what actually happened. Certainly, that there was unrest in Tunisia and Egypt caused opponents of Gadhafi to think about opportunities, and the apparent ease of the Tunisian and Egyptian uprisings gave them some degree of confidence. But it would be an enormous mistake to see what has happened in Libya as a mass, liberal democratic uprising. The narrative has to be strained to work in most countries, but in Libya, it breaks down completely.

The Libyan Uprising

As we have pointed out, the Libyan uprising consisted of a cluster of tribes and personalities, some within the Libyan government, some within the army and many others longtime opponents of the regime, all of whom saw an opportunity at this particular moment. Though many in western portions of Libya, notably in the cities of Zawiya and Misurata, identify themselves with the opposition, they do not represent the heart of the historic opposition to Tripoli found in the east. It is this region, known in the pre-independence era as Cyrenaica, that is the core of the opposition movement. United perhaps only by their opposition to Gadhafi, these people hold no common ideology and certainly do not all advocate Western-style democracy. Rather, they saw an opportunity to take greater power, and they tried to seize it.

According to the narrative, Gadhafi should quickly have been overwhelmed — but he wasn’t. He actually had substantial support among some tribes and within the army. All of these supporters had a great deal to lose if he was overthrown. Therefore, they proved far stronger collectively than the opposition, even if they were taken aback by the initial opposition successes. To everyone’s surprise, Gadhafi not only didn’t flee, he counterattacked and repulsed his enemies.

This should not have surprised the world as much as it did. Gadhafi did not run Libya for the past 42 years because he was a fool, nor because he didn’t have support. He was very careful to reward his friends and hurt and weaken his enemies, and his supporters were substantial and motivated. One of the parts of the narrative is that the tyrant is surviving only by force and that the democratic rising readily routs him. The fact is that the tyrant had a lot of support in this case, the opposition wasn’t particularly democratic, much less organized or cohesive, and it was Gadhafi who routed them.

As Gadhafi closed in on Benghazi, the narrative shifted from the triumph of the democratic masses to the need to protect them from Gadhafi — hence the urgent calls for airstrikes. But this was tempered by reluctance to act decisively by landing troops, engaging the Libyan army and handing power to the rebels: Imperialism had to be avoided by doing the least possible to protect the rebels while arming them to defeat Gadhafi. Armed and trained by the West, provided with command of the air by the foreign air forces — this was the arbitrary line over which the new government keeps from being a Western puppet. It still seems a bit over the line, but that’s how the story goes.

In fact, the West is now supporting a very diverse and sometimes mutually hostile group of tribes and individuals, bound together by hostility to Gadhafi and not much else. It is possible that over time they could coalesce into a fighting force, but it is far more difficult imagining them defeating Gadhafi’s forces anytime soon, much less governing Libya together. There are simply too many issues between them. It is, in part, these divisions that allowed Gadhafi to stay in power as long as he did. The West’s ability to impose order on them without governing them, particularly in a short amount of time, is difficult to imagine. They remind me of Hamid Karzai in Afghanistan, anointed by the Americans, distrusted by much of the country and supported by a fractious coalition.

Other Factors

There are other factors involved, of course. Italy has an interest in Libyan oil, and the United Kingdom was looking for access to the same. But just as Gadhafi was happy to sell the oil, so would any successor regime be; this war was not necessary to guarantee access to oil. NATO politics also played a role. The Germans refused to go with this operation, and that drove the French closer to the Americans and British. There is the Arab League, which supported a no-fly zone (though it did an about-face when it found out that a no-fly zone included bombing things) and offered the opportunity to work with the Arab world.

But it would be a mistake to assume that these passing interests took precedence over the ideological narrative, the genuine belief that it was possible to thread the needle between humanitarianism and imperialism — that it was possible to intervene in Libya on humanitarian grounds without thereby interfering in the internal affairs of the country. The belief that one can take recourse to war to save the lives of the innocent without, in the course of that war, taking even more lives of innocents, also was in play.

The comparison to Iraq is obvious. Both countries had a monstrous dictator. Both were subjected to no-fly zones. The no-fly zones don’t deter the dictator. In due course, this evolves into a massive intervention in which the government is overthrown and the opposition goes into an internal civil war while simultaneously attacking the invaders. Of course, alternatively, this might play out like the Kosovo war, where a few months of bombing saw the government surrender the province. But in that case, only a province was in play. In this case, although focused ostensibly on the east, Gadhafi in effect is being asked to give up everything, and the same with his supporters — a harder business.

In my view, waging war to pursue the national interest is on rare occasion necessary. Waging war for ideological reasons requires a clear understanding of the ideology and an even clearer understanding of the reality on the ground. In this intervention, the ideology is not crystal clear, torn as it is between the concept of self-determination and the obligation to intervene to protect the favored faction. The reality on the ground is even less clear. The reality of democratic uprisings in the Arab world is much more complicated than the narrative makes it out to be, and the application of the narrative to Libya simply breaks down. There is unrest, but unrest comes in many sizes, democratic being only one.

Whenever you intervene in a country, whatever your intentions, you are intervening on someone’s side. In this case, the United States, France and Britain are intervening in favor of a poorly defined group of mutually hostile and suspicious tribes and factions that have failed to coalesce, at least so far, into a meaningful military force. The intervention may well succeed. The question is whether the outcome will create a morally superior nation. It is said that there can’t be anything worse than Gadhafi. But Gadhafi did not rule for 42 years because he was simply a dictator using force against innocents, but rather because he speaks to a real and powerful dimension of Libya.

Release the hounds.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 07:23:00 AM:

The President joined the Franco/Brit coalition for only one reason: to head-off a primary challenge from the restive Hillary Clinton and close out a developing Republican meme that he is ineffectual on foreign policy issues. This is Wag The Dog brought to real life.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 08:32:00 AM:

Too bad Reagan didn't finish the job in 1986 when he bombed--unilaterally--Qaddafi's compound during Operation el dorado canyon. After that failed operation, Qaddafi retaliated by blowing up Pan Am 103.  

By Blogger Steve, at Tue Mar 22, 08:49:00 AM:

Is there anything that Obama is doing right? Is there anything that he can point to as a success? He is remarkably and dangerously incompetent. He does not think. He just reacts.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 08:56:00 AM:

"Too bad Reagan didn't finish the job in 1986 when he bombed--unilaterally--Qaddafi's compound during Operation el dorado canyon. After that failed operation, Qaddafi retaliated by blowing up Pan Am 103."

Troll alert. Laughably ignorant troll too (C, is that you?). Just hang loose all, he'll climb back under his bridge soon enough.  

By Anonymous George Dixon, at Tue Mar 22, 09:20:00 AM:

One Question I have not seen addressed

What is the status of the Agreements Libya entered into with the USA regarding the Libyan Nuclear Program and Libyan support for terrorism?

Up until Obama pulled the trigger, and the US began "not leading this" according to Sec State Hillary Clinton, there was a standing agreement with between the USA and Gaddafi about Libya's nuclear program…  
Gaddafi would stop the nuclear program,   
and about his support for terrorist insurgents…Gaddafi would cease to do it any more.   
To date there has been compliance by Libya and no complaint from the USA.  
Since he made the approach to the Bush Administration, and to whatever degree it was codified…..  
…what happens to those agreements and issues now?    

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 10:16:00 AM:

You say "This is at least a little ironic, since "re-energizing America's alliances" is one of the "guiding principles" of American foreign policy under Obama."

Perhaps you are using a different interpretation of "energizing" than is Obama. I could argue that setting something afire is "energizing" it!

Hangtown Bob  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 10:23:00 AM:

"If we're going to discuss what's going on in Libya now and in the future, we have to start with three basic considerations: The first is we have a military operation that's been put to play, but we do not have a clear diplomatic policy or clear statement of foreign policy that has accompanied this military operation. The second and the questions you were just asking are some that I've asked on the Foreign Relations Committee and the Armed Forces Committee, we know we don't like the Gaddafi regime, but we do not have a picture of who the opposition movement really is. I've asked this repeated to State Department officials including Sec. [Hillary] Clinton in the past couple of weeks. And the third is yes, we got a vote from the Security Council, the United Nations Security Council in order to put this into play, but we had five key abstentions in that vote -- Brazil, Russia, India, China and Germany and we have not put this issue in front of the American people in any meaningful way. The president is in Rio. The Congress is out of session. So before we even get in to the command structure of this, I think it's very clear to put the marker down that moving forward we need to get more involved in terms of anything that goes from this point forward."

Senator Webb just about covers it, and as nicely as he can without calling the President a fool.


By Anonymous QuakerCat, at Tue Mar 22, 10:43:00 AM:

My broader problem with the handling of Libya has to do with this administration's core values. Think of America's greatest Presidents - can you imagine any of them being so deferential, so unwilling to lead? If it was not worth our time to go into Libya a month ago or even two weeks ago when Gadhafi's boys started turning the tide - why is it now? In the time of crisis people want to see conviction of purpose above all else. I feel Mr. Obama is doing this due to political triangulation rather than a set of principles that guide how we are to be governed.

I equally respect the Dove who says this is not my war as I do the Hawk who believes it is in our best interest to see a good outcome; either way a set of principles are in place that are both predictable as well as trustworthy.

Bottom-line: in the same fashion Mr. Obama's dithering on our surge in Afghanistan where it took him four months (and 12 rounds of golf mind you...) to decide to give the bare minimum support in way of troops and resources, he has once again come across as indecisive and unpredictable. As I said then and I will say now, I cannot imagine how it would feel or how bitter I would become if I lost a loved one during this time where Mr. Obama was called to act, and he instead took poll after poll after poll before he decided to half-step his way into a problem that needed full commitment.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 11:04:00 AM:

I think this has less to do with humanitarian goals than it does with America being drug into this by the Europeans. They realized they didn't have the means to enforce even a "simple" no-fly zone over a country 500 miles away - and they requested/begged the US to take the lead so they could get this done. This could indicate the true state of European readiness, and America had no choice but to shore them up lest the world see them for what they are. Empty shells.

The fact is the USA is the only nation on Earth that can enforce its will on countries over the horizon and we had absolutely no choice in this matter. The real test will be when the US hands off the lead to these partner nations. If the wheels come off the bus you will see the US resume the heavy lifting.  

By Anonymous Mr. Ed, at Tue Mar 22, 11:23:00 AM:

I saw the logic of the original invasion of Afghanistan, that being in our nature to fight back if we are attacked. I saw the logic of our invasion of Iraq where even if some key facts were in error, the logic had been advanced over 12 years of excruciating diplomacy.

This one is different. It looks impulsive. It looks like a course change to atone for our failure to stand up for Iranian dissidents last year, for our confused and dithering response to the unrest in Egypt and Tunisia and Bahrain.

I don't see a good ending here. Stratfor makes sense when he notes that the Libyan rebels are not a movement with a leader, nor are they a movement with a liberal democratic objective. Philosophy is rather beside the point. This is a feud and revenge is the driver now.

It is only a matter of time (that being the coming election) before Obama gets the chills and throws England and France under the bus. At that point he will have completed his destruction of nearly all of our key friendships and put NATO six feet under.


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 11:40:00 AM:

Remembering back to the Bush days, is this when we should start asking Obama what his "Exit Strategy" is?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 11:44:00 AM:

Very good points being made here. In my initial disgust I was focused on the administration's ever-present political calculus (and, what a lousy reason it makes for going to war), but clearly the intellectual and moral bankruptcy of our leadership goes far beyond simple politics. What do we do now? America, having joined the no-fly coalition, still can pull back quickly once the Libyan air defenses are done in. Allowing ourselves to be pulled any deeper into this war can still be avoided. And, what do we gain? What national interest can we (even ex post) claim was served by this adventure?


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 11:48:00 AM:

Good cartoon, 20 years old:


By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 11:57:00 AM:

I amend my last, by agreeing with Anon 11:04-- we can say we were in it at the request of our Eurotrash allies, and acted to support their efforts. Just direct all further questioning to the Elysee, and be done with it.  

By Blogger Mil-Tech Bard, at Tue Mar 22, 12:30:00 PM:

The Chicagoboyz blog took a shot at what American victory in Libya would looks like here:

Defining American Victory in Libya


By Blogger Dawnfire82, at Tue Mar 22, 12:56:00 PM:

This whole adventure makes no sense.

There is no clear strategic goal here other than, possibly, regime change in Libya. Which the 'coalition' does not officially support, though some of them (and Turkey) obviously think that that's in the cards.

But why? Qadaffi is no strategic threat. He was once, but isn't now.

Do Obama and crew just feel bad that he was killing rebels? Why? That's what you do with rebels. Americans had no problem killing rebels 1861-1865 or 1899-1902, and neither did the French from 1954-1962. Is Qadaffi's repression of this uprising "worse" than China's, Iran's, Bahrain's, or Saudi's (or soon-to-be Syria's), and even if so how is that a justification for military interference?

I don't think there is a strategic rationale here. At least not for us. It looks like base, and primitive, political calculation.

Here's what I think happened: A few Europeans were wringing their hands about yet *another* massacre that was going to occur on their doorstep and they, like previous Anon suggested, couldn't stop it themselves. So they went begging.

The initial response from Obama was negative, but then his political wonks thought something like this: "Oh no, people think Obama is a wuss. They keep asking us if we're going to do anything about Libya. We don't wanna, but if we say "no" it'll just confirm their claims. Damn that Sarkozy. Where's Chirac when you'd appreciate him? Hmm... so let's cut a deal with the Europeans, get a UN fig leaf, and then have Obama make a sudden decision without consulting Congress. Getting involved in another country's civil war is ok, because we'll be saving the artificially designated "good guys" so we'll be all heroic and shit. That'll make him look presidential!"

Worst. President. Ever.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 01:46:00 PM:

Please correct me if I am wrong, but it is my perception that there are two kinds of civilians in Libya; Gadaffy's supporters and Gadaffy's opponents. With this administration, as with the Clinton Administration, and with our Tomahawk missles and air strikes, we're murdering civilians again, just like we did in Kosova, and again we're protecting members of al Quada in Libya, just as we did in Kosovo. Democrats simply can not be trusted to protect Americans. They'r too closely aligned with Islam-o-Marxists.  

By Blogger LarryD, at Tue Mar 22, 01:49:00 PM:

So far the commentary here has missed the Responsibility to Protect agenda that Obama bought into six years ago.

The Westphalian Sovereignty era is ending.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 02:29:00 PM:

Responsibility To Protect = Endless War. For ideological reasons too, instead of national interest. Scary idea.


By Anonymous sirius, at Tue Mar 22, 02:41:00 PM:

"It is U.S. policy that Gaddafi needs to go."

That's the President speaking. Except, that's not policy. That's wishful thinking.

Here's your 'policy' Mr. President: We retaliate for the slaughter of innocent Americans, without regard to time elapsed or any other considerations. Yes, Gaddafi needs to go, but only for this reason, as far as U.S. interests are concerned.

But I can see why the humanitarian rationale is in play. Mrs. Clinton has that whole 'never again' thing hanging over her head going back to her husband's administration and his Sec. of State's (Miss Less-than-Albright's) inability (or, more accurately, refusal) to identify the ongoing genocide in Rwanda. Additionally, I suppose, there's a reluctance to allow the message to get out that we will happily oppose tyrants, as long as they're not killing 'their own' people.

The problem with the humanitarian justification for intervention is it doesn't go away with the dictator. The President has just laid the ideological groundwork for a long term intervention, despite his assurances that he will hand things over "in a matter of days, not weeks." He might better have said the troops will be home before Christmas, and given himself some leeway.

I'm all for promoting democracy, but I think the best way to do that is to support and, if need be, help defend, regardless of race or religion, consensual governments in the region already extent. Israel comes to mind, as does fledgling Iraq.

In parting, I'll only add that I'm surprised no-one has apparently yet apprised Obama of former Sec. of State Powell's "Pottery Barn rule"--you break it, Mr. President, you own it. And not just for some few days or weeks.  

By Anonymous sirius, at Tue Mar 22, 03:12:00 PM:

I had a rather long and (I thought) well-reasoned comment relative to this subject that seems to have disappeared into the aether. The world's all the poorer, unless it should somehow miraculously reappear and make itself known--in which case, nevermind.  

By Blogger Lionel, at Tue Mar 22, 04:16:00 PM:

The coming mission creep:

TRIPOLI, Libya – Moammar Gadhafi's snipers and tanks are terrorizing civilians in Libya's third-largest city, and the U.S. military said Tuesday it was "considering all options" in response to dire conditions that have left people cowering in darkened homes and scrounging for food and rainwater.–Yahoo News

Why doesn't Obama DO SOMETHING to help these poor people?? (Wrings hands.)  

By Anonymous Ignoramus, at Tue Mar 22, 04:24:00 PM:

"Here's what I think happened: A few Europeans were wringing their hands about yet *another* massacre that was going to occur on their doorstep and they, like previous Anon suggested, couldn't stop it themselves."


From what I've heard Dublin-born Samantha Power -- together with Hillary -- drove Libya by overruling Gates. After Yale and Harvard Law, while in Obama's Senate office, Samantha first came to modest fame by arguing that we should have intervened in Darfur. Later, during the 2008 campaign, she got more fame when she had to resign from Obama's staff after calling Hillary a "monster" during an interview. She came back so quickly to Obama that I suspect it was all a plan for a two-day MSM story. Once in office Obama put her on the National Security Council. Although Samantha has made a career of arguing for armed intervention to stop human rights abuses, she was a strident critic of our invading Iraq. Go figure.  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 04:35:00 PM:

"...she was a strident critic of our invading Iraq."

But of course. There weren't any WMD, and, as we all know,that was the ENTIRE justification for going in there.

Side note for Ms. Power: There aren't all that many WMD in Libya, either. And a good thing, too, huh? Care to hazard a guess as to why not?  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Tue Mar 22, 04:58:00 PM:

Regardless of your view on US involvement in Libya, the US could have been a little more Machiavellian with the coalition partners. In return for providing air and missile support for implementing the no-fly zone, the coalition partners should have coughed up more political support and resources for Afghanistan, which they've been bailing from for years. US defense expenditures provide the cover that allows Europeans to enjoy their welfare states. The last thing we should be doing is giving away our military assets.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Tue Mar 22, 08:09:00 PM:

Anonymous @, 04:35:00 PM
But of course. There weren't any WMD, and, as we all know,that was the ENTIRE justification for going in there. [into Iraq]

If you were not joking when you wrote the above, I suggest that you read the Iraq War Resolution. There are listed around twenty reasons for going to war.  

By Blogger Georg Felis, at Wed Mar 23, 10:33:00 AM:

Obama plans to take the credit if everything goes well, and to pass the blame onto France (and Hillary) if everything goes to heck. What he fails to realize is that France, and to a lesser extent the rest of NATO are perfectly happy to bail out on this disaster when it is still in the formative stage, leaving Obama and the US Military hanging out to dry. Remember France is still much the same country that we had to fly all the way around for the Reagan Libyan strike, and has a great deal of money tied up in Libyan investments. Expect the “Agreement” between France and a new dictator to be brokered within the next two weeks, and the US to be caught by surprise again. “Peace? Freedom? Change? Oh come on guys, open the door. I’ll give you an iPad with my speeches on it?”  

By Anonymous Anonymous, at Wed Mar 23, 12:29:00 PM:

The wonderful Jazz Shaw takes on the ineffable Obama foreign policy doctrine and R2P, otherwise known as "rationalization".


By Anonymous XLiberal, at Wed Mar 23, 12:31:00 PM:

Anonymous @ Tue Mar 22, 04:35:00 PM
Quotes previous poster "...she was a strident critic of our invading Iraq."
And comments:
But of course. There weren't any WMD, and, as we all know,that was the ENTIRE justification for going in there.

If you considered the above statement to be serious, and not some tongue-in-cheek joking matter, then I wonder why in the last 81/2 years you have not bothered to acquaint yourself with the Iraq War Resolution. There are over twenty reasons listed for going to war with Iraq.  

By Anonymous Boluto Tejano, at Wed Mar 23, 02:17:00 PM:

Sirius is not the only one who has experienced comments disappearing.

Anonymous @ Mar 22, 04:35:00 PM:
Quotes a poster:
"...she was a strident critic of our invading Iraq."
And adds his/her own comment:
"...But of course. There weren't any WMD, and, as we all know,that was the ENTIRE justification for going in there.”

Apparently you never bothered to read the Iraq War Resolution, which listed over 20 reasons for going to war.  

By Anonymous Boludo Tejano, at Wed Mar 23, 08:05:00 PM:

TH, your software is eating comments. Comments get posted, your software says all is fine, and then the comments are never seen again.  

By Anonymous sirius, at Thu Mar 24, 08:35:00 PM:

Guys, Anonymous @ Mar 22, 04:35PM is me, sirius.

But of course, I was being snide and facetious. I thought my following side note for Ms. Power made it obvious. Sorry for not being more explicit.

And TH, thanks for restoring lost comments.  

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