US Intervention in Libya


Erik Kain

Erik writes about video games at Forbes and politics at Mother Jones. He's the contributor of The League though he hasn't written much here lately. He can be found occasionally composing 140 character cultural analysis on Twitter.

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142 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird says:

    Earlier today, it was reported that Qaddafi had left for South America. Let’s hope, right?

    In any case, the question comes:
    How responsible are we, as Americans, for Qaddafi?

    If the answer comes “not at all”, then why should we be responsible for shooting down anti-personnel planes?

    If the answer comes “we are responsible for him”, then we very well ought to be shooting down any aircraft that attempts to take off, no?

    But the problem also comes:
    The days before us will have many files opened and their contents emptied on many different sites and in many different embassies. Will we be held accountable for Qaddafi? If the answer will come “of course not”, does that change our answers?

    If the answer comes “of course we will!”, does that change our answers?

    To what extent are we responsible for the state of the Middle East?Report

    • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird says:

      I know E.D. likes to work some sort of anti-american, anti-capitlaist rant into almost every post but I don’t see how he can connect anything the US has done to Qaddafi coming to power. If Qaddafi has done such bad things then why should the US take military action? Surely, the formidable Canadian armed forces can deal with a second maybe third rate dictator? Besides, isn’t this situation exactly what the ICC was designed for?Report

  2. Avatar tom van dyke says:

    Nobody knows what the “Libyan street” is thinking. Hell, if you only watch the news, you’d think you know what the “Wisconsin street” is thinking, but you’d probably be wrong.

    To Jaybird, Victor Davis Hanson, on visiting Libya:

    Gaddafi hated the United States. Anti-American propaganda was spoon-fed to the population hourly (I remember watching the evenings newsreels’ ad nauseam depictions of U.S. “crimes” in Iraq). We are disliked by some countries’ protesters for cozying up to Saudi, Tunisian, Egyptian, and Pakistani authoritarians; does it necessarily follow that we will be liked by the opponents of anti-American authoritarians? Does anti-anti-Americanism translate into pro-Americanism?

    I doubt it. In 2006, I heard constantly from my minders and others that Gaddafi was installed through some sort of U.S./Zionist plot to impoverish Libya. In general, if the Middle East becomes more ‘democratic’ (as in plebiscites without constitutions), we should brace, at least in the beginning, for a grassroots outpouring of anti-Western, anti-American, and anti-Semitic venom, given what we have seen in various polls of popular opinion.

    • Avatar Barry in reply to tom van dyke says:

      ” Victor Davis Hanson”

      The guy who’s had an unblemished record of being wrong for the past decade. Not to mention not even being able to get it right in his own field.Report

      • Avatar Chris_H in reply to Barry says:

        VDH used to be *the* right-wing go-to guy on foreign policy. I thought he was discredited following the Bush administration though? Haven’t heard from him much since those days.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Chris_H says:

          He’s bloviating over at Pajamas Media under the Hesiod-esque title tag of Works and Days, for he is also a farmer.

          How did Mr. Frank Zappa put it?

          The pyjamas people are boring me to pieces
          They make me feel like I am wasting my time
          They all got flannel up ‘n down ’em
          A little trap-door back aroun’ ’em
          An’ some cozy little footies on their mind

          Po-jama people!
          Po-jama people, people!
          Lawd, they make you sleepy
          With the things they might say
          Po-jama people!
          Po-jama people, people!
          Mother, mary ‘n jozuf, wish they’d all go away

  3. Avatar Creon Critic says:

    Watching the BBC, former UK foreign secretary Lord Owen outlined a response that makes sense to me. He suggested an emergency meeting of the UN Security Council and get a Chapter 7, compulsory, resolution for a no fly zone over Libya; Lord Owen suggested NATO could enforce the restrictions. Intervention can take many forms and I think the US should endeavor to at least prevent the use of Libyan warplanes against protesters. Reports today indicated that two Libyan pilots landed in Malta because they were acting against orders to open fire on and/or bomb protesters. Various Libyan diplomats are saying what is happening is, if not genocide, then a crime against humanity. Libya’s behavior certainly contravenes the notion the state has a responsibility to protect its citizens.

    Part of the object of the post WWII international architecture is to prevent these sorts of gross human rights violations when possible. Otherwise “never again” means “never again will Germans kills Jews in Europe in the 1940s” as David Rieff challenges.Report

  4. Avatar E.C. Gach says:

    This is one of those times where sans two ground wars, there might be a place for international backed U.S. action. As it stands, I’d prefer my libraries to funding any kind of military venture, though maybe you were talking about other avenues.Report

    • Avatar Pooh in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      I tend to agree with this – the first question, which many on both sides of the debate seem to be skipping over, is what CAN we do, in terms of capabilities, and what do the various options mean in terms of costs, results and international repercussions?Report

      • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Pooh says:

        Costs, results, international repercussions?

        But what about the children?Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

          LOL…its funny because people are actually dying.Report

          • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:

            This is why we ought to go in there and kill more of them?Report

            • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Jaybird says:

              This is a serious question, Greg.

              It seems to me that the downsides of involving ourselves militarily include occupation. People who wave away that as a possibility do so while ignoring a whole lot of recent military intervention in the Middle East by these United States. Hell, our military intervention in general. The best case scenario is occupation for sixish years a la Bosnia.

              It’s easy to daydream about swooping in like Captain America, punching the Red Skull in the face, then leaving the Libyans to enjoy the Freedom that surely must beat in the heart of every man.

              Such daydreams resulted in support for a lot of different things in the last decade.Report

              • Avatar Barry in reply to Jaybird says:

                No, it’s not, Jaybird, as indicated by your previous comment.Report

              • Avatar greginak in reply to Jaybird says:

                I never said we should intervene, I just noted the humor involved when people, very possibly children, are being killed.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to greginak says:


                I should have issued a strongly-worded statement condemning the killings.

                “Even though I think we shouldn’t do anything, this is awful and shouldn’t be happening. But that doesn’t mean that I think we should do something. It’s awful though, and I condemn it in the strongest possible terms. But, still, we shouldn’t do anything.”


                Somber enough?Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to greginak says:

                The right to make childish insults while people are being slaughtered is protected by the Ninth Amendment.Report

              • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird says:

                The UN is actually pretty good at peacekeeping, which is why things aren’t terrible in, for instance, Bosnia. One of the very stupidest thing about the unilateral invasion of Iraq is that it precluded getting its help with the aftermath.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

                Lebanon, Sierra Leone and the Democratic Republic of Congo (or whatever it’s currently named) show the UN is utterly incapable of managing a ceasefire. It is, however, a highly profitable market for pimps: the UN peacekeepers (and UNHCR workers in Lebanon) resort to prostitutes with a gusto unseen in armies since the Korean brothels that served the armies of Imperial Japan.Report

              • Avatar Simon K in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Peace keeping requires that there be a peace to keep. The problem in many cases seems to be that there isn’t one, and yet the UN is asked to keep it anyway.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Simon K says:

                The UN is worse than nothing in such cases. Unable to separate the warring parties, usually conniving with the local powers-that-be, they are only good for wasting money and generally cluttering up the landscape.Report

    • Avatar David Cheatham in reply to E.C. Gach says:

      Indeed. I’d even be okay with some peacekeeping mission on the ground, backed by the UN. Not to overthrow anyone, but to protect protesters.

      Unlike a lot of stuff we _pretend_ it’s illegal for other countries to do, like build nuclear weapons or chant ‘death to America’, actually slaughtering your own citizens _is_ illegal.

      However, due to some utterly incomprehensible reason, we’re in the middle of the two longest wars in American history, and can’t really afford to do anything at all.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to David Cheatham says:

        Based on my experiences in Lebanon and Africa, I am not encouraged to recommend the UN’s peacekeepers in any form.

        Let these countries sort things out on their own. Long ago, I had the privilege of befriending three blind women who lived in the same house. I did some tasks for them: one was to inspect the floor of the house, especially the kitchen, for filth they had left behind. When I found and, I would guide them to it and make sure it had been cleaned up.

        For me to have cleaned their floors would defeat the point. They wanted to know where they hadn’t cleaned.

        If these countries want our help, and I believe they do, we ought only to extend the offer to help and let them accept it, on their terms. In a thousand ways, I learned from those blind women not to help, but to ask people how I might help. The UN “help” has only created nightmares of institutional dependence and learned helplessness, compounded with the inability to actually punish or prevent crimes against persons.Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to David Cheatham says:


        So you would support UN intervention in the US next time riots break out in L.A. or Detroit?Report

      • Avatar Simon K in reply to David Cheatham says:

        While I’m supportive of humanitarian interventions in principle, you’ve got to consider the military realities. Having little pockets of troops with restrictive rules of engagement scattered around doesn’t work. Never will. We saw this in the Balkan wars with the attempts to set up safe havens, in Somalia, and in places in Afghanistan – although Western infantry might be almost invincible compared with their opponents, “almost” isn’t enough when you’re surrounded and aren’t allowed to open fire. You’ve either got to actually capture and hold ground, or shell it from a safe distance. Neither is really acceptable if the goal is humanitarian.Report

  5. Avatar Robert Cheeks says:

    American intervention? Hello….hello!
    Let’s see, we have Muslims killing each other. Now, let’s be honest here, how bad is that? Let me put this another way; our enemies are killing each other.
    Let’s not intervene. And, I can’t imagine our Kenyan-Marxist president as any plans to make a move and even if he does it’ll probably be the wrong one.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Bob, good points– I think we should do everything in our power to encourage Muslims to kill each other. Better these fanatic jihadists meet their 72 virgins—it can’t happen soon enough. Take your jihad into the hereafter. We’ve had enough of your repulsive, bloodthirsty ideology–your religion offers nothing of any merit–nothing. And PLEASE will you get rid of those god-awful ugly medieval costumes. In case you haven’t noticed, we live in the year 2011, not year 666.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Heidegger says:

        Nonsense. The suicide bomber is as ancient a concept as Samson.

        Here’s how to think about a suicide bomber, from a common sense perspective. I presume, if you were under assault from outside forces, you would shoulder a weapon and defend your own. Anyone would. Perhaps a few ultra-pacifists might not, but I believe I’m within the bounds of reason to think you might.

        In such a situation, you would expose yourself to enemy fire. On an order from your commanders, you would get up and move into danger. There are surprisingly few cowards in battle, and you are not a coward. Yet you know your life is in danger, that the odds of your death increase the longer you exposed. I dare say you might even be capable of an act of heroism, giving your own life to save others.

        During the early months of WW2, before the Blitz, there was still talk of rapprochement with the Third Reich. The Americans had not entered the war, though they had taken sides. After the Blitz, all such talk ceased: it was total victory or death. A bombed people are immediately hardened into this fatalistic stance.

        The Americans have dropped guided and unguided munitions onto civilian populations. At some point, they just get up and go about their lives, understanding the odds. The bomb is a terribly democratic weapon: the blast radius defines who shall live and who shall die.

        The suicide bomber is a guided missile. However misguided his thinking, however rotten and depraved his handlers might be, there is no other way to describe him. Do not exercise yourself overmuch in condemning him: since the invention of the aerial bomber, the USA has dropped every conceivable explosive device onto our enemies and never for a minute has it troubled your conscience. Do not allow yourself the luxury of howling about the suicide bomber. It is weak thinking.Report

        • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP says:

          Blaise, guten Tag! Uh-oh, not from Blaise. I’m profoundly discouraged. I’m probably wrong, hopefully wrong, but am I hearing from you that old, “mistaking the arsonists from the fireman?” You’re drawing an equivalence between our liberation of Iraq and the rabid terrorists desire to thwart our every effort to help them live in a genuinly free, democratic, peaceful and prosperous country–the only Arab nation to do so. In other words, you compare the Jihadists who kill innocent, unarmed men, women, children to the Minutemen.

          As always, thanks for the reply, the always interesting replies. And, may I say, my very deepest thanks to you for your service. You guys are the real deal. You really DO/DID defend this great nation and we are forever indebted to you for your honorable service in defense of this nation. Thanks so much mein Freund.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Heidegger says:

            When my father was teaching at a university in rural New York State, one of the firemen was caught torching barns. The excuse he gave was that he was bored and wanted more fires to put out.

            When the war against Iraq began, I warned, pedant that I was and still am, against what might follow on this Liberation business. At the time I said Saddam had sequestered the Sunni-Shiite violence in the Tupperware of history and it would be a right dodgy Science Project when the lid was lifted.

            What did I know about the situation? As it happens, I had been in northern Iraq for Operation Provide Comfort, hobnobbing with the likes of Petraeus before he became a flag officer, you know, one of those Linguistic Types who had mastered some Kurmanji. In those days they listened to us. The Bush administration did not merely ignore us, it shouted us all down, despite our grave reservations. The British called such as us Gone Native, a deplorable condition in which the foreigner could actually distinguish one native from another and took them seriously.

            Well, we did overthrow Saddam, and good riddance to that terrifying would-be Stalin and his demonic sons. But Saddam left an interesting message behind: ere all was said and done, we would recapitulate the violence of his own regime. Saddam understood the Iraqis, rather better than we did: if he murdered the Salafi missionaries who crept into his country, he had his reasons, reasons we would come to understand in time, up in places like Fallujah and Ramadi. Rumsfeld and that little cretin L. Paul Bremer proceeded to screw up Iraq in every possible way, full speed ahead.

            Again, returning to the suicide bomber, I would only repeat myself in pointing out he’s just a guided missile of a very different sort. Compare and contrast with Slim “King Kong” Pickens in Dr. Strangelove.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Blaise, no question about Bremer–his breaking up all the Iraqi security forces immediately did immeasurable harm to our soldiers and Iraqi civilians. I think I have a possible solution to the continued violence in Iraq, particularly with the group, Al Qaeda in the Arabian Peninsula. A few weeks ago I happened to notice a small clip on the news that showed a building structure being demolished—“controlled destruction” as it was called. Now this got to thinking–buildings, ballparks, hotels etc. are being demolished–and who LOVES, more than anyone else on this planet, to destroy things?—–Yes, al Qaeda! Of course there are thousands of more terrorists involved in any number of atrocities, but for the time being ,what do you say we sit down with bin Laden and his lieutenants and let them be in charge of controlled demolitions right here, in the US. A perfect solution–he pulls his fanatical minions off the battlefield, and in return, gets to blow up Infidel’s buildings right here in the United States. And for the real hardcore Islamist psychopaths that have wet dreams at the very thought of flying an airplane into a heavily crowded building, we can have them train on one of those flight simulators. All we’ll have to do is have the software configured in such a way, that they’ll think they’re blowing up Jews and Christians! Everyone will be happy! Allahu Akbur!Report

    • Avatar Chris in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      Sometimes it’s almost like you and Heidegger are trying to outdo each other in some sort of parody-off. I wish a part of me didn’t believe that you two really believe this stuff.Report

    • Bob/Heidegger – you do read like parodies. The alternative is that you’re both racists. Either way, enough is enough. I’ve had about all I can take of the anti-Muslim nonsense. There are plenty of other blogs you can spew this crap at. Please, if you feel so inclined to do so in the future, show yourselves the door.Report

      • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Gentlemen, I quite agree with Mr. Kain. There are human beings involved here and their deaths simply aren’t funny in any context.

        You should restrict your snark to Islam itself, to the generous degree that Christianity is disrespected and mocked at this blog with no objections from management. [I prefer a bit more respect for both meself, but in the least you should hold yourself to this blog’s minimal standards.]Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to tom van dyke says:

          Mr. van Dyke, none of my ‘comments’ on this thread intend humor.
          E.D., you’re playing the ‘race’ card way too early. BTW, Muslims aren’t a ‘race.’ What in heaven’s name would make you think they were a ‘race?’ Perhaps, you have ‘race’ on your mind?Report

          • Actually Islam is considerably non-racist and international, kind of like Communism in that regard. But that still doesn’t change the fact that you championed murder.Report

            • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Christopher Carr says:

              Christopher: “Actually Islam is considerably non-racist and international, kind of like Communism in that regard.” Oh yeah, they sure aren’t racist–I guess that’s true if you overlook the small problem that they want to exterminate all Jews and kill all those non-believing Christians Infidels. The only “international” thing about them is their desire and ability to carry out their terrorist attacks on any country in the world. Well, at least for now, Antarctica not a target, but I wouldn’t hold my breath. Maybe all those penguins could eventually, with some basic training, turn out to be very effective suicide bombers.
              I mean, these Jihadist barbarians have absolutely no compunction whatsoever about strapping retarded children with remote controlled suicide vests into cars to commit mass murder of anyone, men, women, children. And how about that all-girls school in Saudi Arabia that the Saudi “firemen” let burn to the ground with all the students left to burn to death. And why do you think that happened? Because the female students weren’t wearing hijabs, veils, Jilbabs, niqab…that’s right, left to burn to death because of their attire.

              And enough, enough, ENOUGH from all of you atheists with your endless mockery of Christianity.
              No doubt all of you have on you walls a photo that spectacularly beautiful artistic masterpiece, “Piss Christ.” The Left-wingers compare it Da Vinci’s “Last Supper”–Just ask Serrano.

              And the most infuriatingReport

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Heidegger says:

                Mr. H, clearly your POV would be more persuasive if you painted with a less broad brush.

                There is at least a rhetorical distinction to me drawn between Islam and “Islamism.”

                There is a genuine argument to be made that “Islamism” is trying to get out in front of these revolutions, for instance pushing Egyptian Google/Twitter hero Wael Ghonim out of the way.

                Google executive Wael Ghonim, who emerged as a leading voice in Egypt’s uprising, was barred from the stage in Tahrir Square on Friday by security guards, an AFP photographer said. Ghonim tried to take the stage in Tahrir, the epicentre of anti-regime protests that toppled President Hosni Mubarak, b ut men who appeared to be guarding influential Muslim cleric Yusuf al-Qaradawi barred him from doing so.

                Ghonim, who was angered by the episode, then left the square with his face hidden by an Egyptian flag.


              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Heidegger says:

                Allow me, against my better judgment, to explain the origins of the current Islamic hatred for the Jews. It is real and it is ugly, but it has more to do with history than theology.

                Many superficial scholars point to the Qu’ran and Muhammad the Prophet’s commands to rout out the Jews. Muhammad the Prophet did not extend this command to all Jews, but only those who had attacked him in Medina, in violation of an entirely tolerant contract in which Jews, Christians and Muslims were to live in mutual toleration.

                Islam’s relationship with the bani Israel was complex. As with Christianity, another branch of the Abrahamic faiths, neither side approved of the other’s theology but all had certain myths, history and facts in common. Muhammad the Prophet’s religion comes later, so he was obliged to view both Christianity and Judaism as predecessor faiths and made special exception for both.

                The simple fact remains: following BlaiseP’s Law of Refugees, wherein the refugees run Away from the bad guys and Toward the good guys, the Jews of Spain and France ran To the Ottoman world, where they were well-received. We do not think of Christianity as especially antisemitic in these times, since the last big antisemitic pogroms in Europe were conducted by the Nazis, but it was and remained so, well into modern times in this fine Judaeo-Christian country the US of A.

                The Middle East became progressively antisemitic, surprisingly from the influences of Christian Arabs who absorbed many of the anti-Jew rhetoric from their European counterparts.

                But the greatest antisemite in the Arab world was al-Husseini the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, who sided with the Nazis and recruited Jew-hunters for them. It was he who is responsible for the Hebron Pogrom of 1929. The Nazis had been meddling in the Middle East for quite some time, stirring up anti-British and anti-Jewish sentiment, long before WW2. The Ba’ath Party which followed on the heels of WW2 was mainly composed of entirely unrepentant pro-Nazis and Hitler is not viewed as a bad fellow, even today, in many quarters.

                The Saudi regime is an cleft stick. It came to power toward the end of the Ottoman Empire and made a devil’s bargain with the fanatical Salafi, also known as Wahhabi, though there are differences between them. The Salafi are despised, even within the Sunni world. The Shiites hate them even more, and bear the brunt of their oppression near Kuwait: the Shiites of KSA live over most of the oil, though they will never see so much as a dollar’s benefit from it.

                But the Salafi became the enforcers for the Saudi regime and it is they who have made life so terrible for the Jews of the Arabic speaking world. Contrary to centuries of tolerance and even Muhammad the Prophet’s explicit command that Jews were ibn baitun, People of the Book, to be protected as long as they did not make war on Islam, the Salafi missionaries now go abroad, funded to the hilt by KSA’s regime, to preach their fanatical hatred of the Jews.

                The suicide bomber is fundamentally un-Islamic and has been declared to be so by hundreds of Islamic scholars. Suicide is strictly condemned and the use of children in warfare even more so. Islam was the first religion to separate combatants from civilians, and even had prohibitions on the cutting down of trees while besieging a city.

                In short, as we Christians would not wish to be lumped together with every intolerant bastard like Fred Phelps and the Crusaders, have the decency to condemn Islamic violence from the facts. The facts are even more terrible than the shibboleths: Islam’s application in the lives of its people has lead to the death and suffering of millions. It has held back the march of progress and condemned women and girls to lives of illiteracy and subhuman treatment. Yet when it began, Islam was the most-progressive religion of its time and did give women rights in law, long before Christianity ever did. That it has sunk to such a vile level is the result of never being separated from political government. In these times, I sense this is changing. There is great hope for an Islamic resurgence, a very different thing than we have seen before, one more akin to Islam as it began. I am not afraid of Islam. I am afraid of Islamic governments, and we in the USA have just created two more in our ignorance.Report

          • Avatar joe from Lowell in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Would you prefer “bigot,” then?

            Either way, I, too, thought you were writing a parody of how an ignorant, KKK member might respond.Report

          • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Bob – I never played the “race” card. Quote me.

            I will, however, play the ‘bigot’ card. Which is a fitting term for someone who so glibly welcomes the death and slaughter of his fellow human being.

            Tom – I have no idea what you’re talking about. When is Christianity mocked on this blog?Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

              E.D, well perhaps I misunderstood the suggestion: “The alternative is that you’re both racists.” As you know E.D. by using the term, it indicates just how desperate the accuser is to ‘win’ the argument. And, yes I resent it, and I think you’re a better interlocutor than to have to resort to that.
              Re: ‘bigot’ which someone accused me of, I would respond in the same way with the caveat that I have no animosity to any gummint, race, religion, sect, group, club, clan who hasn’t tried to murder me, my family, or my people in the past fifty years or so.
              Frankly, many of my fellow ‘commentators’ here at the League (not all by any means) provide ample evidence of the collapse (of thinking, or the ability to reason) in modernity. The good news is, though an irritant, I’m here to hep.Report

              • Bob, if it makes you feel better, I value the hell out of your criticism sometimes, but I wish it were as serious as your measured posts for PoMoCon. Sometimes I feel like you’re trying to troll us all and just won’t give up until someone has compared you to Hitler. Honestly, suggesting that Muslims murder each other out of existence is more than just an irritant. And the idea of historically-derived blood feud is just ridiculous.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                CC, it’s always a sad day when I disappoint. I like the League because it’s fun to just let it fly and yes sometimes I throw poo just to see what’ll stick and to irritate.
                Re: you remark that I was “..suggesting that Muslims murder each other out of existence is more than just an irritant.” isn’t true. I was saying I really don’t mind if Muslims want to kill each other in Libya or anywhere else. I think there’s 1.4 billion of them, logic would tell us that they’re likely to achieve noetic reason before they eliminate the total population.
                Also, what historically derived blood feud are you referring to?
                Chris, you’re a clever lad. You don’t have to make up stuff to ‘win’ the argument.Report

              • “I have no animosity to any gummint, race, religion, sect, group, club, clan who hasn’t tried to murder me, my family, or my people in the past fifty years or so.”

                I guess I assumed that was a reference to September 11th. Am I mistaken? And if so, which groups would fit under that umbrella?

                Despite the flattery, I didn’t make up anything, and I don’t really care about winning any arguments. I’d much rather find commonality.

                It seems like maybe you’re vitriolically arguing for non-intervention even in the face of stoppable atrocity. If so, I’m interested in justification and not callous indifference.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                Chris, I didn’t support Bush and the neocon effort to ‘bring democracy to the Middle East.’ It’s my contention that Islamic culture is never going embrace ‘democracy,’ so why engage in a war to do so? The policy was insane.
                If you don’t think Islam is our enemy ask the families of those American slaughtered on 9/11.
                I accept that Islam is my enemy; they don’t have to slaughter any more Americans to make me believe that. Apparantly, for you and other libruls here, more American blood has to be spilt. so be it, but that blood because of the incoherent politically correct position you people embrace is on your hands as well. The Muslim will continue to attack because Allah commands it. At some point even you will understand that we’ll have to seriously defend ourselves.
                If you want ‘commonality’ you’re wasting your time, seek the truth.Report

              • Bob, I’m not a liberal, I don’t have any sympathy towards political correctness, and I don’t think any more American blood has to be spilled. I also don’t think any more Muslim blood has to be spilled in the guise of preventing American blood from being spilled. This is because I believe that an eye for an eye makes the whole world blind.

                Allah does not command Muslims to continue to attack America. Muslims command Muslims to continue to attack America because we are attacking them. It has nothing to do with religion and everything to do with the fundamental human aspiration to self-rule. Granted, religious zealotry can cloud minds.

                I believe commonality can be achieved generally through economic cooperation. The U.S. will never go to war with China because it would mean economic devastation. Engaging the Middle East in trade would do far more for peace than anything else.Report

              • Avatar Matty in reply to Christopher Carr says:


                I think you’ll find it’s spelled Poe or at least I hope so.Report

    • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

      E.D., I’m sorry I made you upset.
      Now, it’s perhaps arguable that the way I made my point could have been less direct but the point itself is rather apropos re: your blog, e.g. why intervene, it’s sure as hell gotten the U.S. in a great deal of trouble in the past, what with so-called ‘blow back’ etc. The alternative being to stay outta their business, sit back, and watch them slaughter each other in a way that only Muslims can.
      Now if you chose to morn for Muslims who appear to delight in killing people they disagree with, that’s your business. As I said before, I think it’s a positive, a win-win for Western Civ.
      Now, if you or whoever manages the League can’t tolerate different views, political leaders bitch slapped around, or you’re fearful of an open and public discussion on contemporary issues, just throw me off the site.
      I’m no blog site expert by any means, but I am finding out that blogs tend to want people to contribute who worship the same idols and regurgitate the cult’s shibboleths with regularity. If that’s the League’s objective, and I’m beginning to think that you guys aren’t really happy with any position to the right of Joan Baez, just let me know.Report

      • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

        I’ve spoken Arabic for fifty years. I’ve lived as a Christian within Islam since I was a child. For all its failings and shortcomings, I don’t see Islam the way you do: The alternative being to stay outta their business, sit back, and watch them slaughter each other in a way that only Muslims can.

        Only Muslims? Is this to be considered as a reasoned statement? I contend it’s such statements which get the West in so much trouble. Islam’s brief is short, its scriptures less than the size of the Book of Psalms, its theology reduced to a single sentence. It is a clean, monotheistic religion with a long tradition of charity, tolerance and holiness.

        Islam is also six hundred years younger than Christianity. Rewind the clock on Christianity and we see the slaughter of the Albigensians. If Christianity now whimpers and simpers and acts as if it could never do such things again, secular forces has reduced it to a relatively peaceful thing. Still Christianity cuddles up to politics in a most unseemly manner, right here in the Land of the Free. Someone ought to give such cuddlers a vicious slap: they have made more trouble for humanity over time than any other force.

        Islam makes no distinction between politics and religion, though the Shi’a are beginning to do so on principle. The Ba’ath Party was an attempt to separate the two, to the lasting detriment of everyone so governed. For all of America’s idiotic squalling and shaking the spear about Saddam Hussein, his Ba’athists were the only secularists in the area.

        Now, thanks to America’s idiocy, (and folks like you, rah-rahing and acting like Muslims are the only people who kill each other) we have established not one but two Islamic Republics. Happy now?Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

          I’m not aware that the Gospel obligates its adherents to impose torture, suffering, and murder upon non-Christians.
          It’s not like you (or perhaps it is..) to say something like this: “..and folks like you, rah-rahing and acting like Muslims are the only people who kill each other..”
          This is perhaps the most puerile thing you’ve ever written here.
          “Still Christianity cuddles up to politics in a most unseemly manner, right here in the Land of the Free.” I’m not going to extend the comments related to this sentence because they put you in a bad light and perhaps you made those remarks as a result of a certain choler. As an American familiar with our history and the founding political philosophy, I have no problem with Christians or any religion participating in the political process. I’m surprised that you do.
          Re: my comment, “…watch them slaughter each other in a way that only Muslims can.” I’m sorry it offends but after fifteen years or so of watching these clowns cut off people’s heads and slaughter innocent (and usually unarmed) men, women, and child I’m of the opinion when it comes to the question of human butchery the Nazi’s and the Communists have nothing on the Muslim.
          For the record, I never advocated interfering in the Middle East. I’d been quite happy to buy their oil and let them go about their bloody business. BTW, of the current wars, uprisings, and revolutions, how many involve Islam?
          I enjoy really brilliant and well educated “folks like you..” sadly, you people have a tendency to come up a bit short in the common sense department.Report

          • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

            Sigh. Gosh, I sure wish I knew as much about Muslims as you do, Bob. It’s so simple, the way you put it.

            Unfortunately, Bob, I do speak and read Arabic, and I’ve taught it. Attempting to lump a billion people into your little Bed of Procrustes is more than a little silly. There is no Islamic World. There are eight major branches of Sunnism alone, and three major branches of Shiism, to say nothing of the entirely peaceful Sufis, all of which you remain blankly ignorant.

            If Muslims are now killing each other in Iraq, we set it up that way, Bob. We’ve been backing the killers of Muslims since the end of WW2. Their hatred for America is entirely justified. That most of them do not hate us, that they are capable of separating our government from the ordinary American demonstrates that an illiterate Cairo slum dweller has better manners than you.

            America backed every goddamn dictator in the region and is busily propping up two more, that gonif Karzai and his drug lords in Afghanistan and that useless idiot Maliki. Yet somehow Muslims the world over exhibit a sophistication you yourself cannot manage. The Muslims understand who’s their enemy and who’s their friend. Until now, it’s been the thieves and bullies in the bespoke suits, backed by American military might. If they now resort to Islam as an alternate solution, we have only ourselves to thank for that tendency in present times. The Islam of Tahrir Square held up the Coptic Cross alongside the Qu’ran and the hardliners hated it. You might revisit your opinion of Islam in the light of present times.

            How many of these wars involve Islam? Depends how you count. KSA oppresses its Shiites, so does Dubai and Kuwait. Iraq has been ethnically and religiously cleansed, four million refugees, a good many of those are Ismaili, still burden that country. Lebanon is divided among the Druze, Sunni and Shi’a, with Iran backing the Shiites of Hizb’allah as we back our own Shiites in Iraq. Turkey is persecuting its Shiites, Pakistan is persecuting its Shiites and its Sufi. These are not wars ofIslam, they are wars against Islam.

            And don’t condescend. You’re stinking up the joint with your opinions on Islam, a subject on which you remain blankly and willfully ignorant.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

              Read history Blaise. It appears that Western Civ, every few hundred years or so has to knock Islam back to the Seventh Century…live with it.
              It looks like part of your problem is in growing up among Muslims you’ve developed certain intellectual/moral sympathies, which is understandable. But, it looks like you’ve carried these sympathies to extremes in defending the culture. I’m bothered by the possibility that you might, in following Islam, harbor a deranged hatred for the Jew. Blaise, do Jews have the ‘right’ of a homeland in Israel?
              Your whine and screed appears to attempt to justify the primitive brutality of either an intentionally backward and ignorant people or a people grossly derailed. Do you justify their attacks on 9/11? I ask because of the way you write, it appear to. Correct me, tell me I’m wrong!

              I could care less about what Muslim sect is oppressing another, what Muslim dictator is oppressing his people, what Muslim Cleric is burying his women up to their heads then stoning them daily in the town square because her hair was exposed. They’re your people, live with them. BTW, you might want to introduce the wheel.
              As an aside, the United States, following WWII was not the only western nation involved in the Middle East. And, one thing you are correct about is that Islam has been at war with the West and particularly the US for quite some time. I should think that if we allowed our commanders and troops to engage the enemy with the intent on destroying him the war would be over quickly and the world would not have to suffer this Muslim madness.Report

              • Avatar Matty in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                what Muslim Cleric is burying his women up to their heads then stoning them daily in the town square because her hair was exposed

                Do you care about the woman or do you think she deserves it because she also calls herself Muslim, and if the later how is your attitude to Muslims different from the clerics attitude to women?Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Matty says:

                Damn, Matty ya got me on that one!Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                The West knocked itself into the Fourth Century every few hundred years. I have read my history.

                Which culture am I defending? There are hundreds of cultures which became nominally Islamic. My opinions of Jews and Judaism are, again, tempered by studying their language and their holy books. Abraham bought the Tomb of Machpelah to bury Sarah: he did not steal anyone’s land, he didn’t even take it when offered, knowing it would be trouble. Muslims and Jews both worship at that tomb in Hebron. The early Zionists warned of the same, urging peaceful coexistence with the local people, buying land, not taking it.

                I do not take sides in the I/P war. Both sides have their litany of atrocities and it grows longer every day. Israel has no less right to the land than anyone else: tanks take ground and infantry holds it and settlers occupy it. The Jews of Baghdad were evicted from the homes they had occupied for many centuries, going back to Babylon. Every stone in that miserable, flypecked landscape was once part of someone’s home. The declarations of the UN regarding Israel’s right to exist must be thrown on one side of the scales: the subsequent UN declarations on the rights of the Palestinians on the other pan. But when it comes to persecution of the Palestinians, the Lebanese have kept their own Palestinian refugees confined to their camps as long as Israel has kept them out. Nobody gives a damn about the Palestinians, though many of them are Christians, least of all you.

                You must remember how thin the veneer of Islam is when you consider any one culture. If one culture engages in stoning women, others do not. Islam, as I said before, asks almost nothing of its converts, its whole theology is encapsulated in the shehada. Again, this discussion is pointless: you are not interested in what actual Muslims or those who have studied them might know. You, like Peter the Hermit, are intent upon repeating lies to gin up a crusade against them.Report

              • I believe future President Huckabee recently Orwellianly asserted squatter’s rights in Palestine for Israelis.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Christopher Carr says:

                I always smile when I see Orwell used in its adjective form. I like the noun Newspeak better.

                The relationship between the millenialist Christians of the USA and the State of Israel is certainly one of the weirdest, though not the most weird. In Iran, the equally-millenial Twelver Shiite government of Iran is actually building hotels and great stadiums for the return of the Mahdi. Millenialist fervor clouds anyone’s mind to the present and sets them on the path to martyrdom and war.Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Menachem Mendel Schneerson’s followers and Rastafarians both had to deal with Messiahs dying in living memory.

                That’s got to be a bummer to have happen to you.Report

              • Avatar ThatPirateGuy in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Well the moonies will have to deal with that soon the guy isn’t getting any younger.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Thank you for your courteous reply re: Muslims and Jews and I quite agree.
                As I said before I have no objection to any religion, ideology, etc that does not seek to injure, subjugate or murder “my people.” Now, you feel free to mock or deride that position all you want but I’m stickin’ to it…simply because it’s common sense.
                Re: “You, like Peter the Hermit, are intent upon repeating lies to gin up a crusade against them.”
                Please, you revert to form, and unnecessarily too. While our political leaders lack the courage to acknowledge it, or to fight the war as if the lives of American soldiers and Marines mattered we are already in a state of war against Islam. I don’t have to gin anything.
                I am pleased you aren’t biased against the Jew, however.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                I’m quickly losing any sense of comity discussing anything with you. You’ll either pull your socks up and quit this Muslim-bashing, or I’ll simply ignore you. I had thought better of you.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Well, of course, it’s the internet. You’re certainly able to pursue any conversation you wish. Please feel free to ignore me. And, you’ve certainly been a disappointment for me.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “By your own standards, your only enemies are your fellow countrymen.”

                Obviously you didn’t read anything I said if you heard that. My point is that you should criticize your own country first and loudest, because you’re a part of it, and morally responsible for its actions, and what’s more, you can make a difference. I didn’t say you should only criticize your own country. In fact, I said something quite like the opposite of that.

                You are interpreting me the way you are because of your knee jerk reaction in the opposite direction: never criticize the U.S., except in those few instances where liberals screw things up.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                On a happier worldline, the Allies of WW1 would have kept their promises to the enemies of the Ottomans, giving them their own lands and the right of self-governance.

                Long ago, I wrote a longish essay on the subject. You may find it of interest.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I thought you were going to ignore me? It’s hard to do that, isn’t it? I’ll read your essay when I get the time, I’m fighting the civil war elsewhere.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Insofar as you won’t make stupid noises about the Muslim faith, I have no reason to ignore you. In that essay, I expand upon the historical realities.

                It seems to me, like Saul Steinberg’s The World As Seen From New York’s 9th Avenue, the “Middle East” is conflated in some folks’ eyes into some far-away lump. O wad gift the giftie gi’e us, to see ourselves as others see us!. If I find your lumpen and ill-considered condemnation of Islam disgusting and ignorant, I have also been spat upon and abused for being a Christian by equally-ignorant Muslims, my friend and colleague Tom Little was murdered by the Taliban. Another friend of mine, Col. Rich Higgins USMC was murdered by Hizb’allah.

                Yet somehow, it’s you, who call yourself a Christian, as I do, who feels entitled to condemn them. I do not feel similarly entitled. My faith leads me into refugee camps to do good, as I many. Where Jesus adjures his followers to Bless them that curse you, and pray for them which despitefully use you., you have done the exact opposite and without so much as an apology. I question your much-vaunted faith, Bob. It doesn’t produce results.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                BlaiseP, that you reserve your vitriol for your own country rather than the murderers of your friends is a puzzlement to me, if not a moral inversion.

                Your chronicle elsewhere of Muslim-on-Muslim oppression also argues against your own point.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I see nothing wrong with being harsher and more vocal in the criticisms of one’s own country than in criticisms of other countries, even if the policies and actions of other countries are, in some cases, much worse than those of one’s own. The reason is quite simple: we live here, we’re participants in the democratic process, and as a result we are, in part, morally responsible for the actions of our democratically elected governments. What’s more, because we’re parts of the process, change is much more likely to come of our criticizing our own country than from criticizing countries in which we’re not part of the democratic (or undemocratic) process. In fact, the best way to affect the behavior of other nations is to affect the behavior of our own nation towards them, so that even when we want to change the behavior of other nations, the best route is often to criticize our own country (e.g., in the case of South Africa in the 1980s).Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Yes, Chris, that’s the rationale for moral inversion all right.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Wait, so it’s moral inversion to concentrate on a.) that for which I am more directly morally responsible, and b.) that for which I might be able to make a difference? If that’s moral inversion, consider me completely inverted.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Very well, I consider you morally inverted, and anyone who turns the lion’s share of their attention and condemnation against their fellow Americans instead of the real bad guys.

                This is not morality, it’s getting off. Wank wank.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I am disheartened but hardly surprised to have my ethics called into question. Gandhi observed an ounce of practice was worth a ton of preaching, and thus have I chosen to live my life.

                The longer I live, the more patriotism has come to resemble a particularly perverse religion; its attributes intent upon enforcing the fallacy of ambiguity wherein No True Scotsman puts sugar on his oatmeal. Every common sense, practical consideration of peace and organic democracy have been shoved aside in favor of rampant jingoism. Any question of the efficacy and justice of our wars is reduced to heresy.

                May God bless and keep the United States of America. I soldiered for this country and did terrible things in its name. But I will not be hectored by the likes of you, Tom van Dyke. I fought the enemies of this country so you could say stupid things about me: feel free to continue in this vein. It is your right, a right I fought for so you could enjoy it.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Chris, BlaiseP illustrates moral inversion: First an attack the US followed by what amounts to a justification of suicide bombers, “guided missiles.”

                The US made mistakes esp in the early days in Iraq but rectified them precisely according to BlaiseP’s Rx. But we are not interested in yielding an inch of daylight between the US’ errors and a moral condemnation. It’s the errors that are our sole concern.

                Next we move to the suicide bombers, who are no more or less than murderers. That their victims are largely fellow Muslims is an inconvenient truth that must be discarded for the sake of the narrative.

                For it’s not about making things “better:” It’s always Mossedegh and the Shah, not the mullahs and Ahmadinejad. For to acknowledge the greater evils in the present is to be obliged to engage moral ambiguity and moral hazard.

                Therefore, we stick with the safe and correct, within the narrow confines of acceptable moral outrage: our own country, particularly the half that disagrees with us.

                And that is moral inversion.

                BlaiseP, I find your argument and rhetoric insufficient and your facts selective and not even always accurate. [Pap about Islam’s initial separation of combatants and non-combatants; First, it was known in the time of Constantine before there was Islam, second, suicide bombers, your “guided missiles” killing noncombatants by the carload, make the entire point moot.

                If you want to make this about you and your autobiography instead of your argument, all I can say is that it’s not that your moral compass is off as much as you’ve got older, you’ve forgot how to use it. Just because it points north doesn’t mean you can’t tell where south is, and that’s precisely what moral inversion is, losing the ability to tell the difference.

                But I would prefer to make this about your argument, not you.Report

              • Avatar Chris in reply to BlaiseP says:

                T0m, since I gave you reasons for doing it, and you have yet to even address those reasons, calling it getting off seems like even worse than a cop-out. But OK, like I said, if that’s inversion, then I’m damned proud to be inverted. It’s precisely this sort of inversion that allows democracy to function.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                No you won’t play this game wherein you say I fuck the donkey and I’m to deny it. I have not justified the suicide bomber. The Islamic Republic of Iraq was stillborn, its government hugely corrupt, its people now revisited by the hideous specter of confessional violence. We corrected nothing in Iraq: we made it worse. In Afghanistan, things are actually worse: we won’t buy the heroin from the locals, in some Kafkaesque scheme, searching for it in the guts of Nigerian drug mules, wrapped in condoms.

                I never even mentioned Mossadegh or the Shah. Mossadegh didn’t let us put radars on top of the Elburz Mountains so we could track the USSR’s space launches from Baikonur. We got rid of him so we could build those radars. End of story. The Shah didn’t trust us, he abused his people and we wouldn’t crack down on him. Norman Schwartzkopf’s father would train his SAVAK policemen: that we could arrange. The Shah’s biggest mistake was not to murder Ayatollah Khomeini, but if it hadn’t been him, it would have been another mullah. The world was sick of him.

                As for any considerations of my ethics and suchlike, I will follow my own judgment. If you do not like it, feel free to criticize me from whatever facts you may summon up. At present, I have heard all these second-hand criticisms from others with more internal rectitude than you. Do try to be original. Wankers are what wankers do.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                I heard you the first time, Chris. It’s a familiar self-justification. You didn’t hear me. Moral inversion is in the choice of targets, the loss of perspective, the inability to deal with moral hazard. By your own standards, your only enemies are your fellow countrymen.

                This isn’t to say there aren’t innocent men on death row or there’s no case to be made against Gitmo. Yes, there is a necessary place for those who crusade against such things. However by self-limiting one’s criticism to one’s own [who will not hit back with any real force], the morally inverted lack the moral vocabulary to do much more then preen and nag.

                You miss the point of what moral inversion is: the ability only to engage the smaller and less personally threatening evils of the world, and to create equivalencies where there are none.Report

              • Avatar Bo in reply to BlaiseP says:

                “If right, to be kept right; if wrong, to be set right.”Report

              • Avatar Ben Carlton in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                What the hell is a ‘right’ to a homeland? Do the Canaanites have this right? Native Americans? The Na’vi?Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Ben Carlton says:

                BP, I always make it my policy to condemn/contemn my enemies. It’s good practice. Now should they confess their gnositc ways and turn toward the light I would just as easily forgive them, yeah, though I be a problematic Christian, as you say.
                I can find nowhere in the Gospels where Jesus teaches us that we may not defend ourselves from a cruel and merciless enemy, an enemy who would without regret slaughter our women and children and tells us Allah teaches it so.
                Indeed, the Christian concept of the ‘sanctity of life’ requires that do all we must, even kill our enemies, to save our own lives and protect the lives of our families.
                Stop preaching Blaise it rings hollow in the face of 3,000 massacred Americans and I have no interest in your credenda and besides, you ain’t qualified.
                What negates your obvious book learnin’ and delightful writing talents is that which has been revealed by our little colloquy e.g. your hubris and hauter and delusion of the ‘good.’ Alas, we all come short in the end.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

                We must have been reading different scriptures.

                As I grow older, I find I have less in common with others of my faith. Yet I do find fellow-travelers along the way, men and women who humbly follow the path set before us in the Gospels.

                I will follow Jesus, and none other, all the days of my remaining life. It is hard enough following his example: I don’t need the further dictates of creed.

                Arabic has a word, du’a. There are two sorts: du’a al-mas’alah, the prayer of request and du’a al-‘ibadah, the prayer of worship. I find, over time, I ask for less and worship more. I have been given what I need in life, and far more. If I have been enlightened in any way, it was a miserable experience: all I have seen from those dizzying heights is the vastness of human suffering. It has silenced my prayers of request.Report

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Perhaps we do read different scriptures; enlightenment is never a ‘miserable experience.’ And, any man given to wisdom knows there is more, much more, than ‘suffering’ to human existence.
                When your Muslim brothers come for you, I hope you’re at the Wadi in prayer. Maybe, you’ve gone ‘native’ after all, but perhaps I would’ve too.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                Speak for yourself. The truth of human existence ought to lead us to mercy, some effort, no matter how seemingly futile, to alleviate the misery of others, that we may do the will of our Father in Heaven.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

                BlaiseP, I do wish you’d decide whether wearing one’s philosophical or theological or spiritual bona fides on one’s sleeve is permissible in your world. Just so we know your rules. You seem to want it both ways.

                You seem far angrier than Gandhi. Jesus too.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP says:

                There is nothing on my sleeve except my heart.Report

      • Avatar Matty in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

        Now if you chose to morn for Muslims who appear to delight in killing people they disagree with, that’s your business.

        What about those Muslims who have never killed anyone let alone delighted in it?

        What about the people in the situations who are not even Muslim?

        This isn’t about right and left, it’s about your apparent delight in wholesale slaughter because most of the victims share a religious identification with their killers.

        You can argue for non intervention and the superiority of Western civilization without writing the equivalent of “Yay suffering!”Report

      • I’d be okay with the shibboleth if the shibboleth were espousing peaceful solutions with minimal coercion. I can’t really see any reasonableness in the alternatives.Report

      • Avatar joe from Lowell in reply to Robert Cheeks says:

        The way only Muslims can, LOL.

        Those Muslims sure did a job at Treblinka, Nanking, and the Somme, huh?Report

  6. Avatar Matty says:

    No fly zones for bombers, great idea but I have relatives who are European expats in Tripoli and if this means closing the airport and trapping them there I would have to oppose it.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird says:

    One question that I think might be important:
    Have we been *ASKED* for help yet?Report

  8. Avatar North says:

    My own measly 2 cents.
    Unilateral US intervention in Libya? Not a good idea. Too much cost, too much danger of things spinning out of control. We well and truly do not need another Iraq.
    However, Obama has a lot of things he could be doing diplomatically to move rapidly towards a NATO or UN authorized bout of international Qaddafi butt kicking and he should be doing those post haste. Qaddafi has been booted out of the Arab League for goodness sakes so clearly there may be room for a rapid denunciation by some of the usual suspects at the security council and maybe an EU led intervention.Report

  9. Avatar Jason Kuznicki says:

    Consider this, Erik…

    You worry that industrial capitalism has produced a gluttonous, anything-goes consumer culture.

    You’ve lately made your peace with the welfare state, provided that it’s run by the wise.

    The only thing stopping you from becoming a full-fledged neoconservative is your modesty in foreign policy.

    That, and the fact that those urging you toward interventionism are repulsive.

    The dark side calls to you, Erik. It says: Embrace your inner neocon.

    While I don’t advise joining up, I will say this — You’ll actually make a lot more sense to the rest us that way.Report

    • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      I’m not sure if you’re being snarky or serious. I’ll say this: nothing I’ve written in any way even remotely puts me close to neoconservatism. If you’re being snarky here, fine. If not, please explain what on earth you’re talking about.
      Last time I checked neocons didn’t support organized labor and were full-fledged hawks. I’ve written one post where I say I can understand the impulse to intervene but still come down on the side of doves. I say I’m almost a pacifist, but not quite.
      So I’m pretty much thoroughly baffled by your comment. How does anything I’ve written qualify me as neoconservative? I don’t even have any shred of interest in calling myself conservative at all.Report

      • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        I was being quite serious.

        Neoconservatism is not to be understood as hawkishness in foreign policy alone. That’s an important aspect of the philosophy, but not at all the whole of it.

        As I understand it, at root is a suspicion of consumer culture and capitalism, because these things are deficient in the enduring values. A fat, happy citizen is neither a profound thinker nor, by the way, a warrior. Yet society needs thinkers and warriors, the neoconservative argument goes. How do we produce them?

        By embracing conservatism, culturally and morally, while leaving aside the laissez-faire, anti—New Deal libertarian streak that American conservatism has often had.

        Unless I’m quite wrong, this is — earnestly — not far removed from just where you are.Report

        • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Well I guess I’m left more baffled than I was before by your response. Your understanding of neoconservatism – and of my politics – both seem extraordinarily skewed. Maybe some neoconservatives hold those beliefs, but I’m pretty sure what you’re actually describing is paleoconservatism. So I’m confused on that point quite a lot actually.

          As far as my politics go, how you could think I am culturally or morally conservative is also fairly startling. After all my pro-gay-marriage writing specifically I’m confused how I could be classified as culturally conservative. I am certainly pro-family, but I hardly think family values is limited to conservatives (certainly you would not say so, being a family man yourself).
          I have written recently about how I am a Romantic, and how I came to realize that I was much more of a Romantic than a Conservative – that it was a point of confusion in my own political evolution.
          So, yeah, I’m just pretty much entirely baffled by your comments. I’m not really suspicious of capitalism, just unfettered capitalism; nor am I suspicious of consumer culture, only consumer culture as the be-all, end-all of our value system. I do think there are more important values. I think a lot of people would agree and I think most of them would be equally shocked at the neoconservative branding, which is just bizarre quite frankly.Report

          • Avatar Jason Kuznicki in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            Suppose I were told that person X is described as follows:

            –He’s a conservative, but not a Goldwater conservative.

            –He strongly values prudence above adherence to abstract systems of reason.

            –While he admires capitalism, he’s worried about the coarsening of American culture under its influence.

            –He’s emphatically not a member of the religious right and often disagrees with them or views their issues as derivative.

            –Unlike many conservatives, he wouldn’t abolish or substantially reduce the welfare state if he were in power. Indeed, he might only make some modest improvements to it.

            –He’s read deeply in the great books and wonders how present-day politics looks so little like them, except for their scary parts.

            I’d have to answer, “Person X is either a neoconservative, or E. D. Kain.”

            It seemed plausible to offer a simplification.Report

        • Avatar greginak in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          This is pretty shaky Jason. Neo-con’s usually are strongly pro-Israel. Strong American Exceptional ism and National Greatness Conservatism seem to be key parts of the neo-con deal. Everything is subservient to these for NC’s. I’m not seeing that is Erik.Report

        • Avatar Will in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

          Err, I see Erik’s value system as intensely liberal (in the broadest sense of the word), leavened by a few sentimental and/or aesthetic attachments to older things. The latter tendency does not make him a neoconservative.Report

          • Avatar E.D. Kain in reply to Will says:

            Yes, what Will said.

            Fist bump right back at you Greg.Report

            • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

              I think Jason was just trying to help, Erik, calling you a righty so you don’t seem so blatantly left. Sort of like the Balloon Juice affair, where the League could claim the center because BJ criticized from the left.

              Erik Kain, do you renounce George Dubya Bush, the neo-cons, and all their satanly works?

              —I do renounce them.

              Do you denounce the Tea Parties, Michelle Bachmann, Sarah Palin and all of their spawn?

              —I do denounce them.

              Do you announce the good works of Barack Obama, especially when he does nothing, which is always the right thing to do?

              —I do announce them.

              Erik Kain, by the authority invested in me as an erstwhile contributor to American Spectator, I find you clean of all right-wing contamination and now pronounce you a Gentleperson of the Left. Go forth in peace and self-righteousness.Report

    • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Jason Kuznicki says:

      A Neocon? Erik? A neocon is rather like a man who refuses to lose weight, reduced to dating fat girls.

      A Neocon is just a Pinko with delusions of grandeur, a Liberal who watched too many episodes of Victory at Sea and got to like the Richard Rogers soundtracks. Most of them dodged the draft and never drank a liter of Vietnam water, but all of them held the military in high repute, in an abstract way, mind you. A sublimation of their perverse need to lick a well-polished boot, a common enough fetish in the highly-repressed.

      This does not seem to describe Erik. The Neocons are all running away, denying their Lord as did the hapless disciples upon the arrest and arraignment of Jesus before the authorities. Where are they all, today? Writing tortured prose, trying as best they may to summon up some exculpatory prose, every fact to the contrary, their every lie now a matter of public record. Why, some of them will never visit Europe again, what with all those outstanding warrants on war crimes charges.

      The Neocon of yore is on the Endangered Species List, though many of their precepts have been taken to heart by our Current Preznit, especially those Executive Powers.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to BlaiseP says:

        Where are the neocons today? Writing editorials about how the Arab Awakening is the result of Gulf War 2, while planning the followups about how its bad effects will all be Obama’s fault.Report

        • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Mike Schilling says:

          I remember when LBJ was surrounded by his Best and Brightest, especially Brilliantine Boy Robert McNamara. Oh they were so full of vim and vigor, with such good ideas about bombing the bejeezus out of Vietnam. And there was ol’ LBJ, trying his best to carry out Kennedy’s plans, playing right along with them.

          LBJ was baffled. Surely Kennedy had understood something about Vietnam he couldn’t clearly see. LBJ was just an old Texas boy, the last of the FDR New Dealers, mostly concerned with the plight of his East Texas constituents. Foreign policy wasn’t his forte and he knew it. But when Kennedy had anointed the Best and the Brightest, LBJ sadly observed “I sure wish even one of them had been elected dogcatcher somewhere.”

          As the war grew, as wars will, LBJ played along with the Gulf of Tonkin madness, knowing it was all so much harum-scarum, a sonarman chasing his own tail. On the strength of this lie, LBJ would ramp up the war and oh how the Best and Brightest cheered him on. Victory was just around the corner.

          Well, there was no corner and there was no victory. The green hell of Southeast Asia sucked up those bombs and the elephant grass grew ever higher, fertilized by the nitrates. The casualties mounted up and Lyndon Johnson was terribly perplexed. It burned his tender heart to see America’s kids turn on him, for he was a man of exquisite kindness to the lowly. LBJ, LBJ, how many kids did you kill today?

          Toward the end of his administration, with Walter Cronkite declaring the war lost, LBJ knew it was essentially all over. The backstory was even more interesting. Cronkite was horribly wrong: that smoke over Cronkite’s shoulder from atop the Caravelle Hotel was from Cho Lon, where the Chinese were incinerating a company of Vietcong trapped in a hutong after the Vietcong had murdered dozens of Chinese. The Tet Offensive was a great victory: the Vietcong were finished and the North knew it.

          But so many lies had been told, the truth was not to be believed. The Neocons, like the Best and the Brightest, would abandon Bush43 to his fate. Alone in the White House, his every excuse torn away like so many shabby rags, Bush, like LBJ, and Macbeth, found out that Birnam Wood can in fact march to Dunsinane.

          The Neocons were impostors all, fair weather friends. They had never soldiered, not a one of them, not even Rumsfeld, that idiotic little martinet. He had trained a few pilots. That useless chump Colin Powell, ever a mouthpiece for liars, had won his spurs denying the atrocities of My Lai, though we knew it as Pinkville back in the day. There was not an honest man among them: they were incapable of telling anyone the truth.

          It is a sovereign truth that within every well-constructed lie is a nodule of truth. Overthrowing a Strong Man like Saddam Hussein was not an entirely bad proposition.

          James Baker, no Neocon he, would savagely observe in later years: “Some people said, ‘Why didn’t you guys take care of Saddam when you had the chance? Why didn’t you go to Baghdad?’ Well, guess what. Nobody asks me that question anymore.”

          Nobody’s going to ask the Neocons anything anymore. For all their tough talk, they failed to deliver victory and that will be their epitaph. They’re the greatest screwups in the history of the world, with the possible exception of their nemesis Saddam Hussein himself.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to BlaiseP says:

            There is some truth and even wisdom in all that, BlaiseP. To sort it out, however, is impossible under current conditions. A shame. This blog was so promising at one point, that such things might be discussed.Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to tom van dyke says:

              Yes Tom, ol Blaise, a fascinating exegete, has a knack with accepted interpretations and well done too. I’ve always credited LBJ with straightening me out about consolidatin’ Democrats. Hubert was the last I voted for.
              Where BP grows wobbly on us is in his less than insightful, albiet poignant comment, ” Overthrowing a Strong Man like Saddam Hussein was not an entirely
              bad proposition..” which sadly introduced a certan insipience into an otherwise unobjectionable homily.Report

              • Well, Mr. Cheeks, the neocon proposition, that all men yearn to breathe free, is being tested exactly right about now across the Arab/Muslim geographical swath.

                I do not think the ink is dry on this page of history, and quite a key page at that.

                I share a certain skepticism that Islam is “reformable” into a desire for Western bourgeois democracy over an immanent religiosity that requires shutting down one’s entire society and commerce to pray five times daily just to keep God foremost in one’s mind: respected, feared, loved.

                Islam is not a generic religion. It’s religiosity writ large, larger than any religion ever. In Islam, you just don’t buy God off with an hour-long ritual once a week or fire up a prayer-wheel to do your praying for you.

                Or perhaps all men yearn to breathe free. They want to buy a donut during prayertime. Hell, a hot dog.

              • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to tom van dyke says:

                Brilliant analysis, Mr. Van Dyke, just brilliant. I was surprised, as you noted, to find the ebullient BlaiseP on the side of the Neocon demons.
                Yes, hot dogs and pork rinds for our friends.Report

          • I can imagine someday if the whole world ever becomes unified under Democratic utopia that some reason-championing historian moderately loyal to the old order will rationalize away the inevitable speed bumps incurred along the way and characterized George W. Bush as a virtual American Julian the Apostate.Report

  10. Avatar Matty says:

    Since I mentioned my relatives I should follow up by saying that Alitalia came through for them while the British government was busy being useless. Allah bless ItaliaReport

  11. Avatar Jaybird says:

    CNBC reports that oil settled near $97/barrel after reports that however-you-spell-it has been shot.