It's About Power

Greenwald with the ultimate question for the "humanitarian mission" crowd:

For the reasons I identified the other day, there are major differences between the military actions in Iraq and Libya. But what is true of both -- as is true for most wars -- is that each will spawn suffering for some people even if they alleviate it for others. Dropping lots of American bombs on a country tends to kill a lot of innocent people. For that reason, indifference to suffering is often what war proponents -- not war opponents -- are guilty of. But whatever else is true, the notion that opposing a war is evidence of indifference to tyranny and suffering is equally simple-minded, propagandistic, manipulative and intellectually bankrupt in both the Iraq and Libya contexts. And, in particular, those who opposed or still oppose intervention in Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast -- and/or any other similar places where there is widespread human-caused suffering -- have no business advancing that argument.

A lot separates the mission in Libya from the invasion of Iraq, and I don't think the comparisons are justified.  But this is worth recognizing.  If humanitarian concerns are the driving impetus for this mission, why not get involved everywhere there is human suffering at the hands of oppressive governments?

Because it's about power.  Humanitarian aid is a secondary concern.




Tags: Libya, Iraq, Yemen, humanitarian aid, Glenn Greenwald, humanitarian aid, Glenn Greenwald (all tags)



or ability

What good would a no-fly zone do in "Bahrain, Yemen, Egypt, Iraq, the Sudan, against Israel, in the Ivory Coast?" It would do no good. In Libya it is clear that a no-fly zone stopped Gaddafi from using his air force to kill Libya's citizens.

Regardless of the merit's of John Judis's arguments, or Stephen Walt's, the intervention in Libya is not primarily about power. We cannot guarantee the outcome of Libya's revolution, Gaddafi is not a threat to American interests, so we have as good a chance of losing influence in Libya as we have of gaining. No one has forgotten the effectiveness of cruise missiles, so knocking down Gaddafi's air force doesn't demonstrate anything new.

If we did not have the power to intervene effectively in Libya then we probably would not have. But it does not follow that therefore the intervention is primarily about power.

Anyone acting in the world has to make complicated moral choices. Reporting child abuse can have unforeseen consequences, like breaking up a family and leaving an abused child at the mercy of an indifferent state, but that doesn't mean you shouldn't do it. Countries are faced with complicated choices that have broader moral consequences, but that doesn't excuse them from making choices.

Greenwald is a little more careful in his argument, he invalidates the argument that to oppose the war is to be indifferent to the rights of Libyans. He only implies, through quotes, that the intervention is primarily about power.


by tib 2011-03-22 04:33PM | 0 recs
It's not about power

It's about oil.

I have been commenting about the ostrich nature of discussions of Libya, including the President's which do not include the word "oil". 

For clarity in thinking about Libya, it would be better if we had learned from the Iraq model of discourse. In Iraq, instead of saying “sectarian violence” we should have consistently said “faith based violence”

Here we should consistently use the phrase “Oil Rich Libya” as in “A lot separates the mission in Oil Rich Libya from the invasion of Iraq,". 

It's a useful right wing rhetorical strategy as in "wasteful government spending" going back at least to Cato's carthaga delenda est but I suspect, it was a major element in that rock sucking Demosthenes' Phillipics

by msobel 2011-03-22 10:52PM | 0 recs


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