Libya And The Interests Of America

Via Jay Ackroyd, Professor Juan Cole writes a piece arguing why "the Left" should support the Libya intervention.Before I consider the substance of Prof. Cole's (obviously an expert on the region) argument, I want to take issue with the notion that the decision to support or oppose the intervention requires a view from "the Left" or from any ideological perspective for that matter. Perhaps this makes me not of "the Left" (and I am really not actually), but I think any military or foreign affairs action by the United States should be viewed from the perspective of America's national interest. When I profess this view, some commenters compare me to Kissinger. This misses the point. Kissinger's problem is not that he focused on the American national interest, it is and was that he misunderstood what was in the American national interest. It happens that promoting democracy, economic development, advancement of the entire world, is key to America's national interest. In that sense, the fall of Gaddafi in Libya could be in America's national interest. (Just as certain electoral results in some countries would be in the American national interest.) There are no elections in Libya, and in any event, meddling in foreign elections in a way that American fingerprints are seen does not work and does not forward American interests. Assuming for the moment that it is, the question then is is what can be done to facilitate Gaddafi's fall and what effect will those actions have on the American national interest? I will attempt to glean answers from Prof. Cole on the flip.

After an unfortunate "what the Left thinks" introduction, Prof. Cole describes the Libyan opposition as "not al-Qaida" and working class. I certainly accept that. This is sort of "they won't become the Taliban" type of argument.

Then Cole continues by explaining that "[a]s Qaddafi’s tank brigades reached the southern districts of Benghazi, the prospect loomed of a massacre of committed rebels on a large scale." I certainly accept that Gaddafi and his loyalists are capable of committing massacre on a large scale. But then Cole makes a leap that is offensive and outrageous:

If the Left opposed intervention, it de facto acquiesced in Qaddafi’s destruction of a movement embodying the aspirations of most of Libya’s workers and poor, along with large numbers of white collar middle class people.

That is a despicable lie and beneath Prof. Cole who ironically started his article by stating he seeked "a calm and civilized discussion of the rights and wrongs here." Well, he just committed a wrong that makes it difficult to treat him with civility.

Here is the problem with Cole's formulation - simply imposing a no fly zone of undetermined duration will not end the risk of massacre at some time. Indeed, the surest way to avoid massacres is for the insurgents to acquiesce to Gaddafi. Some will be killed of course, but no massacres would likely occur.

Cole's "unabashed cheering" for the insurgency in Libya does not mean he is de facto "acquiescing" in massacres. And not supporting intervention does not mean anyone "acquiesced" to massacre. Cole has sadly adopted the rhetoric of the neocon here. It is despicable.

I wlll put that aside and continue to consider Cole's argument. Cole states that:

The arguments against international intervention are not trivial, but they all did have the implication that it was all right with the world community if Qaddafi deployed tanks against innocent civilian crowds just exercising their right to peaceful assembly and to petition their government.

The world community often protests the repression of civilians "exercising their right to peaceful assembly" without engaging in military action. Not exercising military action does not mean that the world community viewed it as "all right." If so, the precedent has long been set, and Libya would be just one more instance of this. This "precedent" argument is wholly without merit.

Cole continues:

Some have charged that the Libya action has a Neoconservative political odor. But the Neoconservatives hate the United Nations and wanted to destroy it. They went to war on Iraq despite the lack of UNSC authorization, in a way that clearly contravened the UN Charter.

This is a "hand waving" argument. Neocons hated the UN if the UN did not agree with them. Here's the question for Cole, what if the US had acted in Libya unilaterally? Would he oppose the intervention? Of course he wouldn't. He would be railing against the UN just as the neocons would. This argument also fails.

Cole states "The intervention in Libya was done in a legal way." This is not true under US law, imo, but I think Cole is referring to international law. I think this is a straw man argument, no real objections are being raised on the grounds of violations of international law.

Cole finally gets to the crux of the issue when he writes:

Assuming that NATO’s UN-authorized mission in Libya really is limited ( it is hoping for 90 days), and that a foreign military occupation is avoided, the intervention is probably a good thing on the whole[. . .] Qaddafi only had 2000 tanks, many of them broken down, and it won’t be long before he has so few, and and the rebels have captured enough to level the playing field, that little further can be accomplished from the air).

(Emphasis supplied.) Now we get to the point. What happens AFTER the air campaign (which Cole glides over, is beyond what the UN sanctioned anyway) can not accomplish anything further and Gaddafi remains in power? What then?

Cole is completely silent on this point. As he must be for it destroys his argument. Ironically, Cole admonishes "the Left" to understand that:

Military intervention is always selective, depending on a constellation of political will, military ability, international legitimacy and practical constraints. The humanitarian situation in Libya was fairly unique. You had a set of tank brigades willing to attack dissidents, and responsible for thousands of casualties and with the prospect of more thousands to come, where aerial intervention by the world community could make a quick and effective difference.

Cole's argument then is that if air power is sufficient, then we should do it. I can accept that argument conditionally here. To Cole, Libya is like Kosovo. I am not convinced that is true. Cole blithely ignores the history of escalation of military actions that litter world history.

In any event, time will tell. Whether "the Left" supports or opposes the Libya intervention, it is happening. We'll see in 90 days where we are and what Prof. Cole says then.

If a land action is proposed, will Prof. Cole then say he opposes? I doubt it. He does not say in this article.

I would love to have heard his argument on THAT.

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    My sense of insult includes (5.00 / 1) (#10)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:52:37 AM EST
    but is not limited to those presented in your insightful and helpful analysis.  The admonition to the "left" to get with this program is condescending in that it assumes that a larger perspective on this military intervention does not exist or is not important--just humanitarian, and who can be against that other than the most callous of us.

    And, furthermore, Professor Cole assumes that we are unaware that the UN resolution is just for a "no fly zone", when in fact, it includes regime destabilizing sanctions such as asset freeze, arms embargo and ship inspections.  Professor Cole seems to want us to view the Libyan military intervention as a good war, and one where nothing could go wrong. And, if it does, it is worth it.

    Gaddafi has been in power for almost 40 years, almost half of it with US and/or UN sanctions.  President Bush found him to be rehabilitated enough to have sanctions lifted in 2004, what with restitution to Lockerbie disaster families and nuclear curtailment. The national interest was served when it is defined as re-admitting US and British oil companies to refurbish aging oil facilities and stabilize Gaddafi's regime.  Somewhere along the line, he must have outgrown his britches and made him vulnerable.  The "non-war" as preferred by Obama so as not to look like our theaters of war are more of a multiplex, was initiated in a curious way, not as deceptive, of course, as Bush, but curious all the same.  

    Well said, and (none / 0) (#81)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 09:58:41 PM EST
    I'm also dubious about the constant repetition of the phrase "slaughtering his people" or "massacring unarmed civilians."  We have some ugly and harsh confrontations there, for sure, but no evidence I'm aware of of Gadhafi "slaughtering his people" or unarmed civilians.

    There's a full-blown armed revolution going on there.  There's something outrageous about his using his military to defend against that?

    Those phrases seem to me to be pure propaganda, not unlike Condi Rice's famous "mushroom cloud."

    Gadhafi's undoubtedly a bad guy, but unlike Saddam or even the late Hafez al Assad in Syria, I'm not aware of his ever having indulged in "slaughtering his own people."

    Perhaps it's just a moot point, but it irritates the he** out of me and makes me unwilling to trust what I'm being told about any of this.

    And if that doesn't make me enough of an apostate, I've never been convinced by the extraordinarily flimsy and dubious "evidence" on the Pam AM 103 thing, either.  So there.

    So seems to me the justification for U.S. (or French or German or etc.) involvement in this rests on pretty dicey grounds of using major military might to support a revolution against a rather routinely unpleasant regime we don't like, and I'm not altogether comfortable with that.  I'm rooting for the rebels, of course, but do we really want third countries pitching in on one side or the other on these things?  We don't much like Saudi helping the Bahraini government out.


    Agreed. This is not genocide, (none / 0) (#94)
    by KeysDan on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 09:59:13 AM EST
    it is a rebellion--a civil war among tribes and we are not sure of what the nature of the rebellious victors (if that becomes the case) will be, although this amorphous group  may be saying all the right things at this point.  Putting down an armed rebellion, especially, by an entrenched dictator is not likely to occur without bloodshed, and threats of such to intimidate. Of course, Libya would be well-served by regime change, but with our involvement in war, and its uncertain outcomes,  against Libya is troubling.

    A key point IMO (none / 0) (#95)
    by MO Blue on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 10:20:07 AM EST
    we are not sure of what the nature of the rebellious victors (if that becomes the case)

    What happens if the rebellious victors turn out not to be friendly to Western interests? What do you think will happen if once in power they decide that they should sell their oil to Russia and China rather than Europe?


    Well, I would see another (none / 0) (#96)
    by KeysDan on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:02:58 PM EST
    rebellion in Libya's future, and another, until they get it right.

    A chime-in from conflicted me? (none / 0) (#97)
    by christinep on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:07:15 PM EST
    While I am supportive--to this point--of the US response to the Libyan situation & supportive of the obvious attempt by involved world nations to act in a coordinated fashion with NATO assuming leadership (and with the US' stated objective of pulling back), I also carry with me the scars of hearing "good talk" going into too many wars/military endeavors in my lifetime. Everything that you have said here, and also gyrfalcon's observations, ring a note.

    Related: I had the same inner response as to how far we would or should go if necessary to aid the situation in Egypt.  As it has developed to date, Egypt appears to have moved forward; ergo, we didn't have to answer any military-involved strategy. But, consider this: Those in Tahrir Square, whom so many of us admired and for whom we either quietly (or not so quietly) wished success in their rebellion...consider whether we can really differentiate that from the Libyan rebels???  It may be that we intuitively feel closer/more aligned with Egyptian rebels (kinda like us?) than we do with Libyan rebels?  I don't know.

    I do know--for me--that what we saw of the Egyptian rebellion & what we now see of the Libyan rebellion have striking similarities. And, most troubling in terms of how far we are willing or able to extend ourselves as a country, so many now ask whether a number of explosive situations in the MidEast are not similar enough as well?
    The fact that things are similar or not so identical, the fact that to act in one case & not another may cause some to cry "inconsistent"...well, that would really be "the hobgoblin of little minds."

    I would like to see a movement toward a 21st view about military intervention. Not a mathematical formula, because human relations that comprise internation relations cannot be reduced to that. An important consideration for people like me who were tarred by the finagling of getting into past military adventures: UN approval--true international community involvement. Also: Divvying up lead and shared reponsibility for carrying out a military response. And: Short duration in situations where relief is sought to overthrow a clear tyrant and where withheld relief would in all likelihood have destabilizing & other negative consequences for the US. The bottom line to me is my personal acceptance that there will be times when humanitarian & strategic interests will call out for US aggressive involvement...and, altho we must apply the lessons of the past and the restraint that comes with it, we must find a way not to be paralyzed by the past but to look toward a handful of modern-day consensual principles to guide inevitable foreign military incursions.


    Certainly understand (none / 0) (#100)
    by KeysDan on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 02:23:00 PM EST
    the conflicted feelings and you make good points on both sides of the ledger.   However, attacking another nation that has not attacked us, or for that matter any neighboring country or that has even threatened to do so,  is a serious matter.  It puts our country at war with indeterminate consequences and  for an indeterminate length.

    While the UN resolution does provide a humanitarian fig leaf to the "situation", it still involves this country and its resources.  I will run the risk of being the hobglobin of a little mind, but the action is inconsistent despite all the rationalizations to the contrary--and we will be recycling this in the future to make cases both for and against wars wanted and unwanted.

    Furthermore, I do look to the past for guidance and that is not helpful; perhaps the "Bombs over Belgrade" would be instructive (if we can avoid hitting the Chinese embassy) but, this was not an internal rebellion, but involved genocide and other territories.


    if i recall correctly, (5.00 / 1) (#23)
    by cpinva on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:37:07 PM EST
    a bomb was placed next to adolph hitler, in an enclosed space. he survived with some minor injuries, while several others were killed. dictators just aren't all that easy to get rid of.

    let's assume, for the sake of discussion, that the following is true:

    promoting democracy, economic development, advancement of the entire world, is key to America's national interest.

    (gee, i sure miss the copy/paste function!)

    then a cost/benefit analysis must logically follow, since we have scarce allocable resources to parcel out. are the potential benefits greater than or equal to the costs of intervening in (your country's name here)?

    they might well be in libya, i have no idea, since pres. obama never saw fit to make that argument to either congress, or the american public at large.

    no cogent person argues that libya's (and n. korea's, and red china's, etc., etc., etc.) dictator isn't a homocidal megalomaniac, they tend to be by definition. the issue is: what's in it for us?

    Maybe the President's Monday night (none / 0) (#33)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:20:26 PM EST
    speech will clarify all this?  (I think he was pretty chickensh*t to embark on this military intervention whilst in South America.)

    Going to South America, as scheduled, (5.00 / 2) (#39)
    by KeysDan on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:47:25 PM EST
    was, in my view,  a part of the strategy to minimize the military intervention.  Sort of, no big deal, just a humanitarian activity that the women-folk of my administration argued for and is not to be  a distraction from Winning the Future.  

    Are you kidding? (none / 0) (#83)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:11:17 PM EST
    When has he ever explained anything in other than simplistic platitudes? I expect nothing from that speech.

    OTOH, I disagree with you on the S. America trip.  I do think that was deliberate, to deemphasize both to the American public and to Gadhafi the importance and extent of this action.  IOW, Gadhafi is an annoying fly buzzing around on the window, but not important enough to bring the regular business of the U.S. to a screeching halt.  To the U.S. public, it was meant to signal this was not yet a third major war, just a short-lived air action.

    Semi-hysterics of the right wing about it to the contrary, I think he did exactly the right thing in going off on his trip.


    what's the big deal? we're consistent! remember (5.00 / 1) (#63)
    by seabos84 on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:27:24 PM EST
    it is better to be tortured under and autocratic boot than under a dictator boot!

    it is stunning how this week we're at war with Eurasia and always have been, except for last week when we were at war with someone else and always had been.

    cuz it ALWAYS about freedom fries and velveeta, NOT about 3 buck a gallon gas !

    IF we paid our armed forces with 100 shares blocks of Fortune 500 companies, THEN at least those putting their asses on the line would benefit.

    Instead, we got some people who've actually fought in combat, and 100 times more who haven't, all pounding their armchairs, sitting around in front of various Big Boards, pontificating about the 3rd I.D., and what a .50 cal sniper rifle can do, and how secret Surgical Tomahawks can be inserted right up ... whatever.

    I'd prefer they just ship the pallets of $100s to whatever undisclosed Contra - Jungle - Wyoming - Iraqi - Dessert and leave us all alone.


    I guess I am a lefty hawk then (5.00 / 1) (#101)
    by Bornagaindem on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 05:09:14 PM EST
    I grant I might have a simplistic view of the Libyan situation but here it is. There is a tsunami forming in the middle east that began  when the people of Tunisia rose up and threw off the bonds of a dictator in order to try and govern themselves. If America stands for anything at all  that is truly at the top in my mind so when a people does that we need to stand up and cheer. In Tunisia and Egypt we ( and the world)  were lucky that the dictators chose to run and did not engage in wholesale slaughter of their own people because they could have done just that and that would have put a quick end to these upstarts.

    Then Libya tried to follow suit and we had a choice to just stand by and try our usual ineffective diplomacy crap and let Quaddaffi put down his rebellion as he brutally told us he would do or to act. The UN got off their duffs and acted and even the Arab league gave us (the west) the go ahead. End of story. To not act would have been unconscionable in the same way that europe did not cover it self in glory when they sat around for two years and let the killing go on in the former Yugoslavia because things might get messy.

    The question to be asked is not why we didn't and/or don't act to defend the downtrodden in every situation but what we should do in each individual country.  And trying to bolster the rebels in Libya was the right thing to do both from a humanitarian stand and because in the long run we want more countries in the middle east to follow the example of Tunisia and Egypt. Quaddafi winning would have stopped this awakening and nipped it all in the bud. No matter what happens now in Libya we at least tried to help a people throw off a cruel dictator.

    The US can't turn a country into a democracy which is why I objected so much to the invasion of Iraq and think that war was completely wrong (  I believe I differ from BTD in this because I thought he  supported that war). But when the people of a country rise up we have an obligation, no a duty to speak up and support them.  Sometimes that will mean just condemnation or sanctions but on rare occasions it will mean sending in the military to help in small ways. If the US or the west invaded Libya and did the fighting for the people that would be the wrong way to proceed as well. the best we can ever hope for is to level the playing field as much as possible.

    He must have a magic ball... (none / 0) (#1)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:12:48 AM EST
    ...that tells him that Libya is "different."  And it's not like we stopped any great violence in Bosnia either, massacre after massacre occurred.

    Technology's impact on the psyche is far reaching. That we can now see everywhere on the planet in an instant makes us feel like we MUST, then, be able to do something in each case.  When in reality, when it comes to mass murder as a response to potential mass murder, well, you can figure out the rest.  

    Disappointing and confounding peace by a usually smart guy.  Too bad the Libyans couldn't have flown some sorties over, say, Kent State back in the day.

    The certainty of success (none / 0) (#2)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:14:53 AM EST
    was quite reminiscent of the neocons on Iraq.

    THAT'S what really confounds me (none / 0) (#3)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:19:50 AM EST
    I suspect he has closer personal ties to the country, perhaps.  

    I suppose (none / 0) (#4)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:23:01 AM EST
    That bothers me less than the insults about "de fact acquiescing." And that after stating he wanted a calm and reasoned discussion.

    can't argue, no pun intended (none / 0) (#9)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:42:28 AM EST
    and i was agreeing about the entire neo-con vibe of it, which of course includes demonizing and making complicit in massacre those who would disagree with you.  

    Yep (none / 0) (#14)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:05:54 PM EST
    Why not the covert way IMO its better (none / 0) (#5)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:23:42 AM EST
    Never had understood why we do not send secret soldiers to assassinate these dictators.   Does not necessarily have to be done directly.  A secret operative disguised as a journalist getting interviews with Muammar Gaddafi yet giving GPS coordinates to the military in order to send a missile or drone to those coordinates.

    If someone on the ground killed Muammar Gaddafi whether our men or there men the bulk of all of the fighting would be over. Countless lives would be spared.    The only next problem to deal with  is who or what would succeed him.  I rather deal with that than still trying to get rid of Muammar Gaddafi

    Before we invaded Iraq a last minute effort was made to send a missile to Sadam.  The missile hit but he and his sons had just left the building.  The missed by a few minutes.  Had he been killed there would have been very little fighting and many lives on both sides would been saved not to say anything about the cost of the war.  

    Can't understand why we have to wait then get a coalition that is controversial and cost mucho mula.

    One bullet one little bullet and it's over

    Also we never try to get reimbursed for helping with the exception of the first Gulf War which was reimbursed about 90 per cent of our cost.

    We have frozen Muammar Gaddafi assests here in the U.S.   32 billion.  Money which probably does not belong to Muammar Gaddafi in the first place but to the Libian people.  Why not just subtract 3 or 4 billion from this amount for the whole Coalition's cost of the war.

    In theory (none / 0) (#6)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:26:56 AM EST
    because assassination is illegal under US and international law.

    In practical terms, I assume it is not that easy to do.


    We sent a cruize missel to his home compound (none / 0) (#8)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:40:30 AM EST
    for Gods sakes.  Why to kill him.  He wasn't there.  

    We are not trying to hide this fact.

    We are trying to kill him  if all possible whether we do it or the other coalition forces do it.

    You really believe international law would object to him being killed whether covertly or by the coalition?  Especially if it saved lives and money


    I wrote "in theory" (none / 0) (#13)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:05:33 PM EST
    Hence, the denial of trying to kill him, instead an attack on "command and control."

    In practice, as the missile strike demonstrated, it is not easy to do.


    Only because he wasn't there (none / 0) (#20)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:14:37 PM EST
    Had he been there he would have been killed.  Which was the objective.  That's pretty easy. If comes out to give a speeches like he has been doing then that even easier.

    Let's try again with better knowledge of his gps coordinates.


    Um (none / 0) (#27)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:47:50 PM EST
    what? Sure "if he was there" applies to everything.

    He wasn't there for a reason.


    Easy or not (none / 0) (#29)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:05:11 PM EST
    was the main point of this discussion.  Easy yes.  Did we have reliable information on his coordinates probably not.  Can it be corrected yes.  Look at all the drones that have been used in Iraq, Yemen, Afghanistan  that took out their intended target.  Was there collateral damage yes.  Is it still being used by the U.S.  yes.  

    Even if Muammar Gaddafi gave up tomorrow he still is a wanted man for a war trial atrocity.  This man was responsible for the flight bombing over Scotland.  Should he be killed or brought to justice yes.  


    Do you really think... (none / 0) (#15)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:06:34 PM EST
    ...if Saddaam and his boys had simply been killed right away that Iraqis would've somehow just taken hands and sung Kumbaya comparatively?

    I, uh, don't.  

    And I don't think Libya is any different in that respect.  


    Yep it should would of. (none / 0) (#16)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:11:16 PM EST
    It's that simple.  If word had gotten out that Sadam had been killed right before our invasion there would have been the biggest party you had ever seen.

    That's ridiculous (5.00 / 2) (#18)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:12:42 PM EST
    Saddam has been dead for years now.

    And the Shias, Sunnis and Kurds still hate each other and are in a low level war as we speak.


    That is the struggel of who succeeds (none / 0) (#21)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:19:47 PM EST
    Everyone one there was happy he was gone. This can happen in Libya also.  The point is that look at all the American lives and innocent Iraqis that would have been spared  had we initially killed him before the invasion.    I rather have the current struggle than what occurred to get to this struggle.

    That's what matters (5.00 / 1) (#25)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:47:15 PM EST
    Getting rid of Saddam to put in a new Saddam is useful how?

    That is not our job (none / 0) (#28)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:56:42 PM EST
    Iraq should have never happened.  The government that exist now is not much of a government.  Look at the price we paid to get to this mickey mouse government. Was it worth it.  Nope.    The only point here is the cost of our American lives innocent lives and  treasure that could have been saved had we initially gotten rid of Saddam before the invasion.  What occurred after IMO is immaterial

    An extraordinary rosy viewpoint. Have (none / 0) (#30)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:15:00 PM EST
    you been reading about Iraq post-deposing of Saddam Hussein?

    Nope just using common sense (none / 0) (#34)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:24:42 PM EST
    I said all this before the invasion

    Didn't work out very well in Viet Nam. (none / 0) (#7)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:35:08 AM EST
    Did not have the tech with have today (none / 0) (#11)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:53:09 AM EST
    There was no GPS satellites during Vet Nam. No Cruize or smart bombs at that time.  We have high tech drones and other high tech that makes it easier today.

    Today's armed services is all computerized

    It can be done.


    Everything, in theory, CAN be done (none / 0) (#19)
    by Dadler on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:13:51 PM EST
    Very rarely is it done, in the context of state sanctioned murder.  More complicating is our history of utter hypocrisy, which renders our word, and whatever pure intentions we ascribe to our actions, useless.  There are literally hundreds of millions of people around the world who quite reasonably, from their personal suffering, believe and desire the leaders of nations like ours should be assassinated.  Will you support their quest?  Of course not.  

    IOW, we are all full of sh*t.  With all of our gadgets and tools and technologies, the world is a cesspool of violence and inexcusable nonsense. I'd suggest it is precisely because technology SEEMS to make it so easy that it is, in fact, much more difficult that we ever imagine.  


    technology (none / 0) (#41)
    by jondee on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:23:56 PM EST
    and public relations industry's time-tested ability to embed a narrative and 'manufacture consent'..

    Then why haven't we "won" in (none / 0) (#31)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:15:37 PM EST
    Afghanistan and Iraq?

    That does not look like the objective IMO (none / 0) (#38)
    by Saul on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:42:04 PM EST
    The high tech army does not mean you will win it just means its easier to hit strategic  targets with less collateral damage than in the past. To win you would have to own Iraq and Afghanistan.  Remove all the bad people.  Which will never happen. We won in Japan.  Yeah you did not worry about innocent people and you just bombed it into oblvion.  That easy to do.  We could do that in Iraq and Afghanistan but then you would be the bad guy.  Look at Korea.  Did we really win.  Half way only.   If the U.S. was under direct siege you bet we would win because we must win to survive.

    In every military engagement we have (none / 0) (#12)
    by Anne on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:04:58 PM EST
    undertaken, innocent life is always lost to the greater good and greater goal of improving life and increasing freedoms and giving voice to those who have been oppressed, repressed and silenced.

    At least, that is the argument that works best with American people; it is an emotional argument that taps into our own feelings about freedom: who just wouldn't want others to be free?  Only those for whom freedom is a threat to power, of course.

    But these last couple decades of Middle Eastern engagement have also been about the cold, hard reality of economic interests: oil.  How else to explain the blind eye we have had for the oppressive dictatorial reigns of so many in that region - that many of the peoples of the Middle East are really not free is not something that happened overnight.

    The response to that criticism seems to be that we can't just insert ourselves into the politics and actions of sovereign governments around the world just because we don't approve; so we work the back channels and we wait for conflict and then, I guess, we pick a side.

    In this region, if we allow chaos to grow, if we are not there using our influence and forging alliances with those who control the oil, we will have failed on two fronts: we will be the great freedom-loving nation that did nothing to assist in the quest for freedom in Libya, and we will be the stupid nation that, in the midst of already-difficult economic times, will bear the responsibility for gas and oil shortages and prices at the pump that almost no one can afford.

    So, I'm looking at this and gauging the possiblity of military involvement going to the next level by how quickly and certainly we can secure the continuation of the oil production and supply.

    What we're hearing we've heard before, which is why we don't trust it; sadly, what's going to be done is going to be done, and I don't expect what we think or say about it will make any difference.

    Oil is important (5.00 / 1) (#17)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:11:34 PM EST
    It is worth fighting for.

    It also is worth choosing not to fight.


    I am more of an idealist than you are (none / 0) (#22)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:27:41 PM EST
    when it comes to international intervention.

    I think the question of when to get involved militarily is genuinely difficult. I take the point that we cannot launch an air assault on every dictator who turns against his subjects (Robert Mugabe still stands).

    But for me, when the opportunity presents itself at a crisis point, and we have the ability to engage, I am very open to doing so. Lybia, like Kuwait, may very well be "about the oil," but that doesn't negate the real humanitarian concerns.

    A ground invasion is a different question. But if the air war creates a situations wherein we can offer peacekeeping troops under an international umbrella, we should consider that too.

    When will you advocate for invading Cuba? (none / 0) (#24)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:46:12 PM EST
    Not to be too harsh on you, idealism is no way to run a foreign policy.

    No bright lines (5.00 / 0) (#26)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 12:47:35 PM EST
    I am an international idealist with realist sympathies.

    Would your view change is the U.S. (none / 0) (#32)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:18:23 PM EST
    presently had a draft?

    Honestly, (none / 0) (#35)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:24:48 PM EST
    this seems like an underhanded accusation that I don't recognize the real and bloody costs of war. I do. That's why these decisions aren't easy.

    So my answer is no, my view would not change.


    I apologize. It is an interesting (none / 0) (#36)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:29:47 PM EST
    question to me, as when I was married, my husband enlisted in the Navy (as an officer, due to M.D.) to avoid being drafted in the Army.  This was 1967.  No kids.  Almost certain to be on the ground in Vietnam if in the Army.  

    No apology necessary (none / 0) (#37)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 01:33:13 PM EST
    I think it's pretty clear that we're living in a different world now. Manpower is important, but not to the degree that a draft is necessary or even useful.

    It seems to me that will change if (5.00 / 1) (#52)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:57:54 PM EST
    we continue increasing our military interventions into diverse areas.  

    Depends on what our goals are (none / 0) (#55)
    by andgarden on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:18:18 PM EST
    I would think that democratic considerations will keep us from becoming so overstretched.

    We are overstretched now (none / 0) (#70)
    by jbindc on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:49:41 PM EST
    When you have soliders, Marines, and sailors on their 3rd and 4th tour in Afgahnistan, or Iraq, you realize we don't have the military capability to sustain a war on a 3rd front for very long.  Should we go down that avenue, it won't be long until we reach a tipping point and then something other than what we are doing now will have to be done. Like a draft.

    I know you didn't ask me, but I think (none / 0) (#57)
    by Anne on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:29:34 PM EST
    a draft would make a difference, in that more people would have a direct interest, and it would, perhaps, serve to require the government to make the best case possible for military involvement.

    As it stands, I do think a lot of people, knowing that their lives are not at stake, are really so removed from it all that they are more willing than perhaps they should be to just trust that the government knows what it's doing.


    I think we are removed from it all (none / 0) (#58)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:33:13 PM EST
    because there is no draft (unless we have connections to those in the military).  Doesn't necessarily follow that we are removed because we think our government knows what it's doing!

    Although reading this article last night (none / 0) (#59)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:40:19 PM EST
    I don't think that's what I was saying, or (none / 0) (#61)
    by Anne on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:09:46 PM EST
    at least it isn't what I was trying to say.

    I think the lack of a draft does reinforce the removal, and the removal is what leads to ceding the decision-making over to the government.

    It becomes sort of a "whatever" kind of thing, because people don't feel the consequence in their own lives the way they would if there were a draft.


    I've thought this, too, (none / 0) (#60)
    by Zorba on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:01:24 PM EST
    but on reflection, I'm not so sure.  A draft didn't stop us from escalating in Viet Nam.  One could argue that it allowed us to send many more troops there than we might have because so many draftees were available.  OTOH, it's pretty clear that the existence of the draft and the fact that so many families had "skin in the game" and so many young people were afraid they were going to be drafted, or knew people who had been drafted, and even knew people who came back messed up from there or died there, helped lead to all the antiwar demonstrations and feelings.  I pretty much knew the Vietnam War was close to the end when my parents (dear, sweet people but quite conservative) put an antiwar sticker on their car.

    Would the Vietnam war have ended (none / 0) (#82)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:05:55 PM EST
    when it did without those demonstrations, and the souring of the broader American people on the whole enterprise?  Don't know the answer to that.

    But it sure did give the American public an aversion to war that still lasts.  I think the patience has been relatively short on Iraq and Afghanistan even after the precipitating event of 9/11.

    The anti-war movement against the Vietnam wasn't just an expression of dissent, it also provoked some self-education on the part of Americans who hadn't before questioned their government on the subject.


    We can never really know (none / 0) (#91)
    by Zorba on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 07:27:11 AM EST
    But I suspect that the demonstrations and general disapproval of the war by so many people did help bring an end to the Vietnam War.

    When (none / 0) (#90)
    by Politalkix on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 11:22:23 PM EST
    (1) a home grown rebellion against the dictatorship by a very significant percentage of the population is violently suppressed and Castro promises a general massacre of the people who supported the rebellion, using his military.
    (2) we can get the UN Security council to back the invasion
    (3) the majority of central and south american countries are willing to back the invasion
    (4) when the heavy lifting in terms of funding and troops is shared by other countries
    (5) when the invasion is not perceived as just a US led effort but is perceived as a truly international one.
    (6)after criteria 1 to 5 are met, Castro spurns an offer of negotiated retirement and says that he is willing to die in his country after putting it through civil war.
    There is a lot of vagueness about your "national interest" arguments also. Not all Americans share same ideas regarding US national interests.



    We promised to not invade Cuba (none / 0) (#98)
    by MKS on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:42:33 PM EST
    Idealism should be a component of what we do.....

    Do I understand you correctly? (none / 0) (#40)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:11:42 PM EST
    You think that Gaddafi can still commit large scale massacre of his people?

    If we remove the no fly zone? (none / 0) (#42)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:25:38 PM EST

    Which brings back the point, what happens in 90 days?


    I assume in 90 days (none / 0) (#43)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:31:28 PM EST
    the No Fly will be renewed.  The No Fly that began in Iraq in 1991 finally kept the Kurds in the North safe from the wrath of Saddam and Shiites of the South.

    And it isn't our No Fly to keep up with.  The French empowered much of the evil that Gaddafi has to unleash.  It is their No Fly to keep up with, and other components of NATO and the coalition that went into this.  We have done enough, we did more than our fair share clearing out the air defenses that would prevent a successful No Fly.


    So Gaddafi stays (none / 0) (#44)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:37:06 PM EST
    but lose the eastern part of Libya.

    Is that the end game?


    Maybe (none / 0) (#46)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:42:59 PM EST
    Is it up to us to dictate what the endgame for the people of Libya is?  Isn't that what they are fighting against?

    They are our planes aren't they? (none / 0) (#49)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:50:00 PM EST
    Either we are there or we are not?

    Our planes were used (5.00 / 1) (#51)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:57:29 PM EST
    to jam and then take out different air defenses.  We lead in the ability to jam radar, we do it brilliantly.  You can't believe what the U.S. military can jam these days :)  We also have Tomahawks, which are amazing when you need to do what they sent them to do.  They can prevent a lot of loss of life on the ground and on all sides too while taking out specific military targets.  Nobody else has anything quite like them.  They don't need those things now and France and Great Britain have aircraft just as effective as ours.  Anyone with Gripens can literally go head to head with our very best which we don't even fly right now.  They don't need us anymore.  They all have planes capable of doing everything else from here.

    I'm skeptical of that (none / 0) (#54)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:16:19 PM EST
    We'll see.

    We will see :) (none / 0) (#74)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:10:51 PM EST
    My spouse says this is win/win/win (none / 0) (#53)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:07:43 PM EST
    for Obama.  He has done a very humanitarian thing very very well and effectively.....win on a humanitarian level, win against the criticizing Repukes.  If it looks bad in 90 days he did a great thing, saved people, and he got out....win.  It it looks good in 90 days he did an even better thing.....win.

    Difficult to see it so (5.00 / 1) (#62)
    by star on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:24:40 PM EST
    I do not see any big change in just 90 days. Gadaffi will dig in and hang on with support from the tribes who are with him and there are many in Libya.
    It is very similar to Iraq that, there are different tribes in diff geographical locations  with in Libya and their loyalties are fiercely divided. It looks like a civil war that will not be settled any time soon. there are no real leaders or system in place if and when Gaddaffi is replaced. If a protracted engagement is on , then support from Arab world (populace) will vanish in no time.

     Also there is expectation from any and all rebels,be it in Bahrin, Syria , Yemen of support from US air power . If it is not forthcoming and if Al jazeera start rolling tapes of mass shooting at protesters in these countries , what then? Are we going to have a no fly zone all over Mid east?

    If there was to be an outside chance for true people power to emerge in that region, It should have been with out interference from outside. Yes there will be bloodshed, it will get ugly before it can get better, but that is the nature of true revolutions. When outside forces butt in (however good their intentions), it changes the nature of the beast and what ever emerges looses its legitimacy from the get go. Wish Obama had stuck to his promised world view


    I'm not saying that intervention would end in (5.00 / 1) (#65)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:50:19 PM EST
    30 days.  I'm saying that our role in it likely will though.

    International opinion (none / 0) (#67)
    by star on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:11:43 PM EST
    How do you think International opinion about US is going to be then? How can this be a win win for Obama?
    I have zero expectation that US will pull out of any cooliation that is still engaged in Libiya however long it goes on. These kind of situations are ones which are extremely difficult to extricate out of. Not with out consequences for sure.

    I think that International opinion about (5.00 / 1) (#72)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:06:54 PM EST
    the U.S. will be that finally we are no longer the Evil Empire.  I think that all of this spells something far healthier for the world too....when other first world nations also show up to protect the weak and take the lead doing so.  That is what I think will happen to International opinion concerning us.  We have acted completely out of humanitarian reasons, and it is time for such things I think.  It is also time to empower others to stand too.  Why is it that so many people can't stomach the U.S. slipping from the role of the only global cop?  Why isn't it healthier that that be a shared experience and shared responsibility?

    France pulled out of the No Fly (5.00 / 1) (#77)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:24:25 PM EST
    in Iraq early.  They also pulled out of the Afghanistan coalition and then rejoined.  It is silly to say it would be difficult to extricate ourselves.  We went into this letting the allies know that we would be extricating ourselves, this is not new information to them.

    True, but (none / 0) (#85)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:17:09 PM EST
    that was pre-Sarkozy, a little man who wears heel lifts and would wear ginormous codpieces if that were still acceptable.

    Sarko is seriously hot to trot, and I have no reason to believe his military, bottled up for so many years under his predecessors, isn't fully capable.  Letting France get into whatever quagmire Libya presents is absolutely OK by me.


    It's okay by me too (none / 0) (#93)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 08:51:22 AM EST
    France sold them a lot of the equipment he is using to off his own people.  This is their problem.  Anything we have done we did out of the good of our hearts.  This is France's to deal with.

    Opinion (none / 0) (#68)
    by star on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:17:20 PM EST
    Of Arab league and UN and Europe is of prime importance to this administration. I just listened to Hillay C and Gates on Abc. When asked why they did not bother with Congress authorization or even an address to American citizens before or immediately  when the engagement started, her reply was really telling.
    Since we have UN and Arab league support, it was enough (paraphrasing). This does not sound right nor good. There was enough support for the Iraq fiasco too. We were technically ONE of the many countries aiming to get rid of a BRUTAL DICTATOR..

    Both the secretaries looks and sounded so defensive , there really is no cohesive strategy with this whole thing.


    It has been done so many times before (none / 0) (#76)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:22:10 PM EST
    though, is Obama to be the only President to have to seek such a thing prior to any action?

    And protesters are not (none / 0) (#78)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:26:31 PM EST
    an organized rebel force taking over towns and cities because the people want that and no longer want these dictatorships.  In such cases to go in and defend means that you must own the country then, there is no reliable will to self govern.

    Do you really think U.S. military intervention (none / 0) (#56)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 03:24:45 PM EST
    in Libya will end in 90-days?  Under what circumstances?  

    Ours will without authorization from (5.00 / 1) (#64)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 04:49:24 PM EST
    Congress.  If things are going badly would Obama even ask for such a thing?

    Is he willing to expose himself to (none / 0) (#66)
    by oculus on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:02:30 PM EST
    the charge of being weak on defense and/or foreign policy?  

    He has already proven he isn't that (5.00 / 1) (#71)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:01:40 PM EST
    the Republicans have made it obvious that they will vote against anything that he wants.  He is completely off all hooks.

    The Brits and French (none / 0) (#99)
    by MKS on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 12:45:20 PM EST
    want Qaddafi out....and said so this morning again.

    They will run sorties as close air suppport in an effort to drag the rebels across the finish line and into Tripoli.

    Will it work?  Mebbe.  The rebels are advancing smartly now.....

    Will the French and Brits put advisors on the ground to help?


    War authorization necessary (none / 0) (#45)
    by Big Tent Democrat on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:37:35 PM EST
    Not for everyone else involved (none / 0) (#47)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:43:17 PM EST
    Just us :)

    THAT is the Get out of Libya Free Card (none / 0) (#48)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 02:44:18 PM EST
    BTD....surely you saw that one :)

    Irony (none / 0) (#69)
    by star on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 05:35:23 PM EST
    Do you see the irony in all this.. the Noble PEACE prize winner is counting on the war hungry NEOCON repubs in the congress to with hold authority to go to war and use it as a 'Get out of the war he went into' excuse !!!

    I don't think anyone can say that Obama is (none / 0) (#73)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:09:45 PM EST
    counting on any such thing.  Understand though that only a stupid person undertakes risky things even for humanitarian reasons without weighing out all the scenarios.  And after doing so, I think that our President realized that he could end Gaddafi's ability to kill people on a large scale and also not place himself in jeopardy.  Who wouldn't have moved forward to end the killing then?

    Well, other than George Dubya Bush (none / 0) (#75)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:12:42 PM EST
    Cuz he needed to preserve the forces he had in order to try to steal the oil of Iraqis.  That was why he couldn't spare the National Guard for Katrina.

    I think it is optimistic (none / 0) (#79)
    by Madeline on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 06:35:05 PM EST
    to think Gaddafi will go quietly, the no Fly operation over. I would expect him to go ballistic if he believes he is going to lose. He still, as i have read, has many supporters and you never know what a madman will do. I think the country will sink into civil war and we will be doing this 'humanitarian' subscription for a very long time.  Or again we will sell the rebels arms and repeat what we have done many times before, one day fight a country who uses our generous gift of weapons against us.

    I do not believe this was just a humanitarian operation. Maybe since the world has become so dangerous the powers believe that being a military
    power, preemptive strikes will continue to be policy.


    Just like Saddam (5.00 / 1) (#86)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:21:21 PM EST
    Gadhafi would not have held onto power so easily for 40 years if he were a "madman."  That's just nonsense propaganda, IMHO.

    Whether there will be genuine "civil war" if he's gone is an unknown, at least to me.  Dictators always are able to suppress such rivalries, so there's really no way to know how they'll work out when that oppression is lifted.  My opinion-- if civil war does break out, they're going to have to resolve that one way or the other among themselves.  Not our problem.


    I haven't said one word about (none / 0) (#84)
    by Militarytracy on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:13:22 PM EST
    how Gaddafi will leave.  Frankly it does not concern me.  The only thing that concerns me is that we ended a large scale genocide, mission accomplished.

    What "large scale genocide," please? (none / 0) (#87)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:23:36 PM EST
    Gadhafi has engaged in no large-scale anything, never mind "genocide," which is a word with a very specific meaning.

    Not meaning to minimize the evilness of the guy, but could we stay in the realm of the reality-based community here?


    Not true (none / 0) (#92)
    by Militarytracy on Mon Mar 28, 2011 at 08:36:38 AM EST
    All it takes is to hit google.  It started in February.  Not meaning to be rude, but you are literally saying the entire UN is full of shit too.

    Ridiculous! (none / 0) (#80)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 07:48:23 PM EST
    You can get a better analysis of the Libyan situation from a NY Cab driver than from Cole.  Seriously.

    Workers' uprising?  Don't make me laugh.  It's disgruntled military people(probably with a bit of US backing) going for a power grab.

    And oil is the only reason the US is interested in this conflict at all.  History shows that the United States is more interesting in creating and/or ignoring wholesale slaughter than stopping it.  And we certainly have never shown an interest in the military backing of "workers' uprisings".

    If I were to be charitable, I'd say Cole is one of those guys who's too close to an issue to see it clearly.  The less charitable part of me thinks he smacks of a US intel asset.  Look at when he was in Beirut.  This guy's got the stink of an asset all over him.

    The U.S. doesn't get much, if any (none / 0) (#88)
    by gyrfalcon on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:26:30 PM EST
    oil from Libya.  France is their biggest customer.  And for heaven's sakes, Gadhafi was perfectly happy to keep pumping it out at a reasonable price.  If the oil supply were an important motivation, the U.S. and France would have come down heavily on Gadhafi's side, not the rebels.

    Better thinking, please.


    Don't buy into this ... (none / 0) (#89)
    by Robot Porter on Sun Mar 27, 2011 at 10:52:17 PM EST
    nonsense.  They've been using this spin at least since Iraq War I.  Probably longer.

    Oil supply doesn't work that way.  Do some research.