Sunday, August 21, 2011

Libya learning and persuasion

I don't expect the right-wingers to learn, let alone acknowledge, their mistakes on Libya. The one intervention that saved civilian lives (probably), killed no Americans, and cost less than one percent of the Iraq-Afghanistan interventions, and the right opposed it. With a few exceptions like McCain.


We'll see whether the opposition on the left has anything to say. And to be fair, there's plenty of time for things to go badly. The big lesson of Iraq, one that I didn't realize in advance, is that chaos can be even worse than the Leviathon of tyranny (somebody should write that concept up).

Apropos of this, one Kevin Drum post:
I've been a skeptic of the Libyan operation from the start, but if this keeps up — and if the revolutionary government goes on to establish a decent regime — then it looks like President Obama's judgment in this matter may indeed have been better than mine. At a modest cost in dollars, virtually no cost in coalition lives, and no requirement for postwar occupation or rebuilding, we've backstopped an indigenous uprising against a brutal dicatator who was on the verge of slaughtering thousands of his own people. Not bad.
My own experience, which I think is fairly generalizable, is that within the course of a single conversation hardly anybody ever changes their mind — including me.
He says he changes his opinion over time, though. What works for me is new information. Even if I'm not persuaded originally, new info might convince me - but maybe not so much because it's new but because it's a crutch, an excuse that lets me shed my stupid original opinion. Anyway, good for Kevin for reacting to Libya.

35 comments:

David B. Benson said...

But no declaration of war, so in violation of the explicit provision of the constitution.

Anonymous said...

Just like our other last 21 wars, right?

CIP

EliRabett said...

"and if the revolutionary government goes on to establish a decent regime "

Real bottom line

David B. Benson said...

CIP --- Only 21? According to
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Declaration_of_war_by_the_United_States
at least 125 separate occasions.

Brian said...

"no declaration of war"

Yes, there's that. And ridiculous reasoning to evade the War Powers Act. But if Eli's bottom line works out, I'm cool with it.

David B. Benson said...

Brian --- Another small step towards a dictatorship (whatever it might be called).

cce said...

All administrations since the War Powers Act was passed consider it to be unconstitutional. All Congresses feel differently of course. The Supreme Court is likely not to get involved.

One thing that can't be ignored is that if Congress didn't approve of these adventures, they would stop cutting the checks that fund them.

Anonymous said...

Obama needs a win, and this may be a small one.

He has finessed the Constitution, undoubtedly, and that is a bad precedent. But Presidents have been doing that since Thomas Jefferson had his own little war against Tripoli pirates.

Hopefully, NATO can declare victory and get out. All we need is a decent regime - a sudden transformation to a fully-blown western democracy will probably not happen.

I was friends with a Libyan couple a few years ago. They had fled the Ghadaffi regime, and I cannot help thinking they must be full of hope and expectation this morning.

Toby

John said...

Some "on the left" actually oppose this particular adventure and, generally, our obediently accepted policy of perpetual war.

At a "cost less than one percent of the Iraq-Afghanistan interventions" that clearly IS a bargain.
Of course, that expenditure of a few months, IF (IF IF IF) it were stopped today, would be, what, 10-20 times the annual federal expenditure for all climate related research, which I've estimated at $2 billion annually but correction is welcome. (Note: American "(r)etail chewing gum sales in 2001 totaled $2.8 billion." http://tinyurl.com/3bqakz5)

Of course, we are reported to have 75 (up from 60) secret "mini-wars" brewing (http://tinyurl.com/2fk6as7) and other reports that "U.S. Special Operations Command spokesman Colonel Tim Nye" has suggested "that number will likely reach 120." (http://tinyurl.com/3mh65k)

For perspective, there are 192 UN member states. Even IF (IF IF IF) these secret wars were free
of charge, the "wisdom" of generating "collateral damage" in 2/3 of the countries of the world will have to be spelled out for me.

Of course, security, political and morality issues aside, these adventure are NOT free and can only add to what is probably a $1.5 Trillion (with a "T" like teabag) annual cost for our global war machine. http://tinyurl.com/6aj4zqu

It seems that even scientists, who should know better, are hardly immune to the notion that financing world-wide-war and some rugged heroes are suitable substitutes for their own self-interests.

Well, let's get back to defining the "bad players" who prevented passage of limp, anti-climate collapse legislation.

John Puma

cRR said...

Took longer than I expected given the unique terrain of Libya. Air artillery would have to work in this special case.

The right opposed it because Khadaffi had become their friend. Is about oil (it not getting to China, period).

"The big lesson of Iraq, one that I didn't realize in advance, is that chaos can be even worse than the Leviathon of tyranny..." - said Eli. Big lesson indeed, then. Guerilla is worse than almost any tyranny, including that of Saddam. During guerilla, mob and psychopaths rule the streets up to behind your front door if you still have one to call yours, and no-one, but no-one can trust another, go figure how life gets shattered in that circumstance.

I was and am for the intervention in Libya btw.

willard said...

I thought it was Leviathan, a specie that might appreciate coyotes.

Anonymous said...

cRR said:"The right opposed it because Khadaffi had become their friend. "

I am afraid the only reason the right opposed it was because Obama was for it.

Smoking chicken bunny

dhogaza said...

"The big lesson of Iraq, one that I didn't realize in advance, is that chaos can be even worse than the Leviathon of tyranny (somebody should write that concept up)."

Huh. That was exactly the argument the military made against toppling Saddam at the end of the first gulf war. And a fair number of higher-ups in the previous elder Bush administration spoke and wrote about their opposition to the toppling of Saddam by W, and the complexity of the situation in Iraq (essentially a creation of European powers after WW I of three distinct ethnic groups who have a history of hatred for each other, not a recipe for peace).

The elder Bushies were clear on the point that you've learned from the W adventure, i.e. the first gulf war emasculated Saddam in terms of being able to do regional mischief (ignoring the reality that in the past much of that mischief had been sponsored by us) while leaving Iraq ruled by "the Leviathon of tyranny".

Iraq may stabilize in a reasonable way yet. Nothing's going to change the fact that the pretenses under which we invaded were as false as those manufactured by Germany in order to "justify" its "defensive" invasion of Poland in 1939 ...

dhogaza said...

"He has finessed the Constitution, undoubtedly, and that is a bad precedent. But Presidents have been doing that since Thomas Jefferson had his own little war against Tripoli pirates."

Which, of course, tags Jefferson, not Obama, as setting the precedent ...

On the other hand, destroying pirate bases in order to protect one's merchant shipping had a long precedent in the international law regarding trade on the sea, and didn't then and doesn't now fit the legal definition of law. Any more than our capturing and trying Somali pirates who attack American (or other) merchant shipping (and tourists) is legally a war.

David B. Benson said...

John Puma --- The war machine currently consumes about
$1,200 billion dollars per annum.

The Real US National Security Budget: 1.2 Trillion
http://motherjones.com/politics/2011/03/real-us-national-security-budget-1-trillion

[Half of that would be plenty to stop global warming and beginning to put the excess carbon back underground.]

cynthia said...

After two steps back in Tunisia and Egypt for Washington, Washington and its imperialist allies take a step forward in Libya, in the quest to put the genie back in the bottle. Unfortunately, the way events are unfolding in Libya are almost guaranteed to see a U.S. military base get built, regardless of what the Libyan people might think. Whatever independence the uprising against Ghadaffi might have had back in February disappeared the minute the imperialist bombs starting raining down on the country and the foundations for a Quisling regime in Libya started being laid. This is a major setback for the Arab Spring.

cynthia said...

Eli,

I would like to remind you that Kabul fell to US air power and the Northern Alliance in less time than this. Bagdad fell to US troops in less time than this. The truth is that nobody knows what will happen next. However, I doubt it will be all roses and sunshine.

I wish the best for the people of Libya, however I still don't believe Obama had the authority to take us to war without a declaration of war by Obama. Just because he got away with it doesn't make it right. We don't need dictators from the right or left running our country.

cynthia said...

Also keep in mind that the rebel group has 3 components - genuine disaffected Libyans, opportunistic ex-Gadhaffi henchmen and al-Qaeda supporters. The rebels are being trained and supplied with weapons by UK ex-SAS mercenaries. Gadhaffi's military stores are being and have been looted of their weapons including ground-to-air missiles. What could possibly go wrong?

Several things are certain. The US will finally have a base on the African Continent for Africom. Libyans assets will be sold off or even given away (somebody has got to pay for the war) to large corporations. The ordinary Libyans will be shafted by dramatic increases in costs of services. Welcome to the Free World via the Shock Doctrine!

cynthia said...

"The Big Gaddafi" is a must-read by Pepe Escobar, the Brazilian-born war correspondent who coined the term "Pipelineistan":

http://www.atimes.com/atimes/Middle_East/MH20Ak01.html

"...He had always known why they came to pee on his carpet. Because he didn't hand the Brits, the Frogs or the Yanks the oil concessions they wanted. So now those unspeakable Saudi bastards started propping up these fanatic al-Qaeda-related types - just like they did in Afghanistan in the 1980s.

Western 'banksters' invented an 'alternative' Central Bank - with HSBC's help to rob Libya's money. They also invented a new, to be fully privatized, national oil company, managed by Qatar, to rob Libya's oil...

Well, if this is the kind of paradise NATO plus those "democrat" Saudis and Qataris wanted, the Arab Dude would abide - and make their lives hell. A free market free-for-all, an Africom base in the Mediterranean, a flimsy puppet government, a Libyan Karzai - and a vicious guerrilla force fighting them till Kingdom Come. Afghanistan remixed.

Blowback will come - and it will be a bitch."

John said...

The Institute for Public Accuracy (www.accuracy.org) publicizes dissenting viewpoints that are excluded by the mainstream media. They ask whether Libya faces liberation or re-colonization.

As Pepe Escobar emphasizes (See IPA above), the main force within the Arab League pushing for NATO to attack Libya was Saudi Arabia. Anyone who thinks that the Royal Kingdom of Saudi Arabia is a force for democracy in the Arab world has a very droll sense of humor.

Physicist Jean Bricmont and journalist Diana Johnstone ask, Now that NATO has saved Libya from Quadhafi, who will save Libya from its Western saviours?

Brian Schmidt said...

Seeing as my OP is somewhat controversial, I'll just point it's me, not Eli, making these statements.

Normally I don't bother with the clarification....

EliRabett said...

We are the borg

Brian Schmidt said...

"Unfortunately, the way events are unfolding in Libya are almost guaranteed to see a U.S. military base get built, regardless of what the Libyan people might think."

Care to make that prediction interesting?

Brian Schmidt said...

Arrgh, maybe I should be clearer - a non-bettor might not know what I meant by making it interesting. Now you do.

David B. Benson said...

Brian Schmidt --- It was already clear it was you, via the lack of snark even if somebody failed to note who posted it.

And I never bet $$.

Anonymous said...

Cynthia said...

"I wish the best for the people of Libya, however I still don't believe Obama had the authority to take us to war without a declaration of war by Obama. Just because he got away with it doesn't make it right. We don't need dictators from the right or left running our country."


Obama said (2007)...

"The president does not have the power under the Constitution to unilaterally authorize and military attack in a situation that does not involve stopping an actual or imminent threat to the nation," he told The Boston Globe in 2007 in his presidential campaign. "History has shown us time and again ... that military action is most successful when it is authorized and supported by the legislative branch."


So Cynthia Obama agreed with you, before he didn't.



Celery Eater

Anonymous said...

And since our esteemed friends on the left will spend equal time showing the picture of Obama shaking hands with Gaddafi, as they did for that Rumsfeld-Saddam picture.


Although consistent positions is not the strong point of the left.




Celery Eater

cynthia said...

Brian,

Even if the Libyans ever did manage to set up a government that respects the rule of law and embraces freedom and democracy, US and NATO forces will be there to destroy it and impose a western-owned media with a puppet head of state dependent on western money for their survival and loyal to Western powers. This will give them carte blanche to rob the Libyan people of their (black) oil as well as (blue) water wealth.

Winning the war against Ghaddafi will be the 'easy' part. But keeping the Central Banking jackals at bay will prove to be much harder, especially since they are bankrolling the rebels and I believe have already set up the framework for a Libyan Central Bank. This will cause Libyans to become debt slaves to the Rothschilds et al.

American imperialism under the guise of humanitarianism is not to be trusted and all the liberal sheep that have supported this NATO aggression have been taken for a ride by the warmongering neocons led by Hillary Clinton who was such an enthusiastic supporter of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars.

Brian Schmidt said...

Rothschilds? Oh come on.

cynthia said...

Brian,

Apparently you are one of those leftist sheep who's incapable of thinking beyond the stifling confines of political correctness; otherwise, you'd know that "the Rothschilds et al" is just a more colorful way of saying the global banking cartels. And if you are so clueless as to not know that the global banking cartels are playing a central role in the West's hegemonic activities around the world, especially in resource-rich regions of the world, then you are more gullible and thus more fleeceable sheep than I thought. Remember this when the global banks drive us into a depression and then into more wars.

Brian Schmidt said...

Hear me bleat a link, then:

New Libya, Welcomed in Mideast, Rejects NATO Bases

http://www.juancole.com/2011/08/13169.html

(And it's offtopic, but I do think Obama should've used the Swedish model of nationalizing/reselling failing banks.)

EliRabett said...

Actually Cynthia dear, it's a dog whistle, and you might spend some time looking it up.

Martin Vermeer said...

> debt slaves to the Rothschilds et al.

And there I was thinking anti-semitism was dead. Silly me

EliRabett said...

Cyn is probably a LaRouchie, doesn't like the Queen of England much either.

David B. Benson said...

Brian Schmidt --- Which Swedish model was that? They are all quite spectacular...