At The Independent, Yasmin Alibhai-Brown writes, The West cannot go on cultivating hideous leaders and then turning on them whenever the winds change:
Mr Hamid, once a merchant in Alexandria who now runs a small café in a London suburb... is right that we cannot ignore the pleas of the rebels and most Libyans (not all) who know Gaddafi will obliterate them and their hopes for democracy. The crisis has woken the Arab League from its long nap and for once it makes no excuses for a despot – though on Sunday, members were again copping out. The UN, too, may just be saved from the paralysis that comes from having to please every nation, even the most foul and unfair.
And yet we couldn't do it, couldn't wholly back the Libyan mission, not even on a wing and a prayer. Why? It is to do with trust. As Abdel al-Bari Atwan, the editor-in-chief of Al-Quds Al-Arabi newspaper and a friend, wrote last week: "The first reaction was relief ... who would not want to stop a bully intent on 'wiping out' those who oppose him? But any relief should be tempered with serious misgivings. First what motives lie behind this intervention?"
There are the obvious reasons for the hyperactivity around Libya and the concomitant, languid indifference to the agony of people in other places with autocratic rulers. Yemen? Oh, no oil, so why bother? Let the "barbarians" slaughter each other. It's what they do. What about Saudi Arabia, then? As grotesque a regime as you can get. ...
Arab bloggers are totally sceptical and some furious that the UN and Arab League has validated what is an oil grab by interested, over-armed nations. It is all to do with fuel security – nothing, they say, NOTHING to do with human rights and safeguarding civilians. I believe there is some honourable intent in the battle against Gaddafi but behind that only big, big greed. My ambiguity thus only multiplies. ...
Even more disagreeable are the posturing European and US politicians up and about and everywhere. Their swagger and sanctimony should fool nobody.
At Democracy Arsenal, Michael Cohen writes, Stumbling into War:
've been trying very hard to find reasons to be supportive of the current US/UN war in Libya - but it's getting increasingly difficult. And the main reason is that it looks a lot like amateur hour at the White House right now.
First of all, from everything that is being reported (and Josh Rogin as usual is doing yeoman's work on this front) it appears that the White House only made the decision to go to war in the last several days. Consider that for a second; for weeks the US was resisting the use of force in Libya - and then within what appears to be a 96-hour period we went from opposition to intervention to supportive of intervention to escalation far beyond a no-fly zone to actually going to war. And all of this happened without any national debate, any serious consultation with Congress and any strong statement of objectives and purpose by President Obama.
As Fallows points out in a whipsmart post, the only debate that seemed to happen was the one in the Oval Office ... to change the President's mind about the use of force. And it should be noted that the person who seemed to have the most impact on shifting the President's view was the woman he beat in the 2008 Democratic primary, in large measure, because of her misguided support for another military intervention that wasn't properly throught thru.
But the even larger problem is that no one in the White House seems to have any idea what they are ultimately trying to achieve. Here is Hillary Clinton last week, “If you don’t get him out and if you don’t support the opposition and he stays in power, there’s no telling what he will do.” Apparently, in this Administration Hillary is playing the role of Madeleine Albright - a woman who never saw a war she couldn't moralize about.
At Foreign Policy, Stephen M. Walt writes, What intervention in Libya tells us about the neocon-liberal alliance:
The only important intellectual difference between neoconservatives and liberal interventionists is that the former have disdain for international institutions (which they see as constraints on U.S. power), and the latter see them as a useful way to legitimate American dominance. Both groups extol the virtues of democracy, both groups believe that U.S. power -- and especially its military power -- can be a highly effective tool of statecraft. Both groups are deeply alarmed at the prospect that WMD might be in the hands of anybody but the United States and its closest allies, and both groups think it is America's right and responsibility to fix lots of problems all over the world. Both groups consistently over-estimate how easy it will be to do this, however, which is why each has a propensity to get us involved in conflicts where our vital interests are not engaged and that end up costing a lot more than they initially expect.
So if you're baffled by how Mr. "Change You Can Believe In" morphed into Mr. "More of the Same," you shouldn't really be surprised. George Bush left in disgrace and Barack Obama took his place, but he brought with him a group of foreign policy advisors whose basic world views were not that different from the people they were replacing. I'm not saying their attitudes were identical, but the similarities are probably more important than the areas of disagreement. Most of the U.S. foreign policy establishment has become addicted to empire, it seems, and it doesn't really matter which party happens to be occupying Pennsylvania Avenue.
So where does this leave us? For starters, Barack Obama now owns not one but two wars
At The New Republic, Michael Walzer writes, The Case Against Our Attack on Libya:
There are so many things wrong with the Libyan intervention that it is hard to know where to begin. So, a few big things, in no particular order:
First, it is radically unclear what the purpose of the intervention is—there is no endgame, as a U.S. official told reporters. Is the goal to rescue a failed rebellion, turn things around, use Western armies to do what the rebels couldn’t do themselves: overthrow Qaddafi? Or is it just to keep the fighting going for as long as possible, in the hope that the rebellion will catch fire, and Libyans will get rid of the Qaddafi regime by themselves? Or is it just to achieve a cease-fire, which would leave Qaddafi in control of most of the country and probably more than willing to bide his time? The size of the opening attack points toward the first of these, but success there would probably require soldiers on the ground, which no one in France, Britain, or the United States really wants. The second is the most likely goal, though it would extend, not stop, the bloodshed.
• • • • •
At Daily Kos on this date in 2006:
I am ashamed. I am ashamed of this President. Aren't you? After watching his press conference today, a sense of shame overtook me. I'm ashamed that he took to the podium today as if he emptied out a container of laughing gas. I'm ashamed of a President who has the temerity to laugh when asked a question about war. I'm ashamed of the whores of the fourth estate who care more about having the honor of being the butt of one of the President's jokes than about exposing the truth to the American people. I'm ashamed that millions of my fellow Americans are so scared and so desperate for leadership that they believe the President's bullshit.
I am ashamed. I'm ashamed of this President, this megalomaniac hellbent on leaving his assprint on the map of the Middle East, no matter how much destruction is wrought and no matter how much blood flows in the streets of lands that never threatened us.
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