No country for old dictators

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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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83 Responses

  1. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    There is a very small part that wonders if we wouldn’t have been better off paying some Danegeld.

    “Mr. Mubarak, we will let you and your immediate family move to Rio with $75million of your stolen wealth if you sign this paper acknowledging that we will kill you if we see you on Egyptian soil ever again. Live in Rio in comfort and luxury and have a chick in a bikini on each arm for the rest of your life. Never come back.

    Then, when we got to Libya, we could make a similar offer. Hey. See Hosni? He’s kickin’ it in Rio. Mr. Ghadaffi, we’d like you to live in the villa next door to his. Sign here.

    Then go to Syria!

    Yeah, I know. It would create one heck of a perverse incentive for the next guy. Surely they’d be better than the perverse incentives Qaddafi has now…Report

    • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Reminds me of the Monty Python sketch about the British rooming house where Messrs. Hilter, Bimmler, and Ron Vibbentrop all lived.Report

    • Avatar North in reply to Jaybird
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      says:

      Not enough dough Jay. Nowhere near enough, alas.
      Beyond the actual question of money a lot of these old monsters are in it as much for the power and the appearance as anything else. Nor would any of them trust anyone making such an offer. They’ve seen the Israeli’s hunt the Nazi’s; they’ve seen the workings of the Hague. Sadly they know too well the fact that the best way to guarantee wealth and safety for themselves is to either retain a death grip on power until they die or make certain they hand the office off to an impeccably reliable relative or crony before they retire.Report

    • Avatar Rufus F. in reply to Jaybird
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      Actually, it’s funny you mention this idea about paying them. There’s a guy named Mo Ibrahim who is a superstar in Africa and very rich from bringing cellular telephone service to the continent. Anyway, his organization offers a cash prize- five million dollars over ten years and a lifetime grant of 200,000 dollars annually- to African leaders who have both distinguished themselves as excellent leaders and stepped down peacefully. Ibrahim says exactly what you say about perverse incentives- unlike Bill Clinton or Tony Blair making millions on speaking engaements, African rulers haven’t had much incentive to actually step down before and the Ibrahim Award is supposed to encourage that.Report

    • Avatar Smedley the uncertain in reply to Jaybird
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      I suspect the offer has been made or is in the process. Whether Kaddahfi (sp) can extricate himself from his tribal ties and obligations may be another matter. There is a large extended family out there dependent on his role as leader. They may kill him if he goes…Report

  2. Avatar Jaybird
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    says:

    Reports that we’ve saved 100,000 lives there strike me as no better than propaganda.

    We should have said “created or saved”.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to Jaybird
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      Win!Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Jaybird
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      Yes! Yes! Hit the nail on the head there Mr. Jaybird. The “logic” that we’ve “saved” 100,000 lives is identical to the logic we’ve “saved” 3,000,000 jobs or whatever the hell the number being thrown around these days is. I guess, for the rest of our lives, we’ll be told, ad nauseum that Obama care has saved all 7 billion lives on this planet. Now genuflect to the Anointed One, forthwith.Report

      • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to Heidegger
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        says:

        The “logic” that we’ve “saved” 100,000 lives is identical to the logic we’ve “saved” 3,000,000 jobs or whatever the hell the number being thrown around these days is

        Which is to say… it’s plausible as far as you can show?Report

  3. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    So liberals don’t like the US saving lives in Libya but still want the US to intervene in places like Darfur? I also remember them crying about the atrocities in Bosnia as well.Report

  4. Avatar E.C. Gach
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    “None of this matters. We are bombing another country, one that has not invaded its neighbors, one that has not in any material way threatened American security or interests.”

    Tabling for a moment the question of national interest, why do you feel that invasion of one’s neighbors matters more then the acts perpetrated against those within the country?Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to E.C. Gach
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      says:

      International military aggression/intervention is illegal except in the case of self-defense or when the UNSC authorizes intervention for some purpose. That’s why it matters. If Qaddafi had attacked a neighbor using his military, there would be a clear case for intervention to contain that aggression against other states. International law is the law of states, and state sovereignty is still a highly protected concept in that body of law. Universal cosmopolitan human rights law relating to the individual is far, far less established than international law per se, so in the most formal settings, i.e. the UNSC, events internal to states are still seen to be judgement cases requiring the UNSC weigh the gravity of the internal matter against the state’s presumed right to be free from foreign military intervention.

      That being said, and therefore, the unequivocal nature of the resolution authorizing this force adopted at the Council is a fact not to be dismissed entirely blithely (though neither are the abstentions of some major U.S. allies and other powers on the Council.)Report

      • Avatar James K in reply to Michael Drew
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        I see two major problem with that logic:

        1) It effectively treats people as the property of whoever runs their country. This would be bad enough if applied to a democratic country but to a dictatorship? It’s like being kidnapped and then being told by the police that they won’t rescue you because you are in the kidnapper’s house and they don’t feel it would be right to intrude on their privacy.

        2) It suggests that international law is especially relevant to the conduct of war. The central concept of a sovereign nation is that it can legitimately reply to any attempt to tell it what to do with “you and who’s army?” This is particularity true of the US where the concept of forcing it to do anything or even sanctioning it in any meaningful way is patently absurd. The only group with any real power over US policy is the WTO, and that power is very domain-specific.

        That’s not to say that I think Libyan intervention is a good idea. There’s no sign that there has been any real thinking done about what the intervention is trying to achieve in a concrete way, nor any way of determining when that goal has been met. That pretty much guarantees failure.Report

        • Avatar Murali in reply to James K
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          says:

          It effectively treats people as the property of whoever runs their country. This would be bad enough if applied to a democratic country but to a dictatorship? It’s like being kidnapped and then being told by the police that they won’t rescue you because you are in the kidnapper’s house and they don’t feel it would be right to intrude on their privacy.

          Be that as it may, respecting sovereignity seems to be one of the best rules of thumb in a roadmap to perpetual peace between nations. i.e. what institutional rules would best encourage more jaw jaw less war war and especially more trade trade?Report

          • Avatar James K in reply to Murali
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            Peace between nations is important, but you can have no international violence and still have a lot of intranational violence.

            I’m still generally against intervention because I don’t think you should tamper with a complex system unless you are very sure of what you are doing but the principle of inviolable national borders still sits badly with me.Report

            • Avatar Murali in reply to James K
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              My original reply was swallowed by something. Here is a crude reproduction.

              Peace between nations, which includes an absence of trade embargoes, promotes international trade. Participation in international trade increases national propserity. National prosperity reduces intranational violence.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                Ergo respecting soverereignity reduces intranational as well as international violence.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                Sovereignty is overrated. The borders of the colonial world made it into modern times for no good reason and many bad ones. The Kurds, the Pashtun, the Hausa and many other groups were purposely divided in overt efforts to ensure they would never get a nation of their own.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to BlaiseP
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                Nationalism is over-rated. There is nothing about being of the same ethnic origin that rationally demands that they be ruled by someone of the same ethnic origin. i.e. if there is nothing wrong with a black person ruling over a country in which the majority happen to be white, then there is nothing wrong with a white person ruling over a country in which the majority happen to be black and mutatis mutandis. i.e. ethnic origin should not matter.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                Indeed, nationalism is overrated, Murali. That’s why the Kurds aren’t going to get one. I’d make the same argument for religions, especially Pakistan, that hideous parody of a nation.

                The Hausa of Nigeria are busily tearing themselves away from their nation (though in truth, they live in eight countries ) instituting sharia law in preference to that country’s laws. They and the Yoruba didn’t like the idea of the Ibos breaking away to form Biafra. I knelt in the back of my father’s Peugeot and watched a gang of Hausas hack an Ibo into pieces with machetes.

                Tribalism and religion are hardly reasons for a nation, that much is true. But when tyrannies of the majority within borders formed by colonial enterprises, I wouldn’t whinge about what’s possible.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                But when tyrannies of the majority within borders formed by colonial enterprises, I wouldn’t whinge about what’s possible.

                I’m not sure I understand this sentence. Could you rephrase or explain?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                But when tyrannies of the majority form within borders formed by colonial enterprises, I wouldn’t whinge about what’s possible.

                This is pretty straightforward. Tyrannies of the majority form within these ill-formed countries along tribal and/or religious grounds. This isn’t a question of what’s rational. Human beings aren’t rational. When these irrelevant borders create situations like Nigeria, Turkey, Pakistan, Afghanistan, Ivory Coast and the list goes on and on, are you somehow defending the colonial borders as some sacrosanct definition?Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                I’m not saying that colonial borders are sacrosanct.

                I’m just saying that stabilising and formalising existing political patterns is a very quick way of cutting down on violence. Uncertainty about whose stuff is what breeds violence. Therefore, I am asking for a hands off approach. So even if I in general think that people ought not to rebel against their lawful ruler, a successful secession or rebellion (one that takes place without outside interference) demonstrates a failure on the part of said ruler to be an effective sovereign. i.e. said ruler lacks the power to enforce his monopoly on the use of force in seceded territory and therefore ceases to be sovereign of said territory.

                So if some ethnic minorities from some neighbouring nations successfully seced and formed its own state, I would say that we should recognise that as well.

                Also, it seems that even the relatively short period of colonialism with different administrations in british singapore and british malaya and has created a sufficiently different character, that we managed to successfully secede from malaysia in 1965. (More accurately we were distinct enough that we were kicked out of malaysia.)Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                Well, insofar as sovereignty arises from the consent of the governed, the colonial borders are part of the problem. So many conflicts have arisen from these procrustean borders, I have come to believe we must revise our ideas about such borders, allowing more natural societies of men to arise.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                insofar as sovereignty arises from the consent of the governed

                No such thing. Myself, I am more Hobbesian about sovereignty. Consent of the governed and how it relates to democracy is such a murky thing. If we are to talk about actual consent, the we know for a fact that every society has some people (criminals) who do not consent to particular laws (the thief does not consent to laws against theft) and even in democratic countries a significant minority of the people do not consent to be governed by the current administration. Neither does everybody consent to the forms of government in existence. On the other hand, if we are to look at hypothetical consent, then what people would hypothetically consent to has no bearing on what they actuall consent to and there is no reason why we should let an actual consensus let alone a mere majority decide how we shall be ruled.

                PS: One of the things that pisses me off about the american invasion of libya is that Gadaffi was so close to disproving that democratic myth.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                @Murali: I’d completely agree about the formation of Singapore. Though a large proportion of “revolutions” fail, the tabula rasa nature of a revolution or secession gives rise to the possibility of ground level reforms. Even if it takes a while to level-set what follows the revolution, sometimes it’s necessary to be done with the prior constraints entirely.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                I’ll stipulate to Hobbes’ insofar as he also observed science is the study of consequences. These idiotic colonial borders have to go and they won’t go quietly. The consent of the governed does not always lead to democracy as we might understand it: the bewildering varieties of what might be contained in the rubric of Democracy and the intensely local flavor of every successful democracy seems to imply the notion of society must of necessity arise from not only the consent but the abstract ethics of the governed.Report

              • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Murali
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                The history of man is peoples pushing each other to & fro all over the map, before they even had maps.

                The Turks came from Asia; the Allans were pushed from central Eurasia all the way to Spain!

                Armenia has been around since the Romans. Sometimes it’s there, sometimes it’s over here. Right now, it looks like it’s moved to southern California.

                Sometimes tribes do unify into a larger “people:” Back in the day, you were a Burgundian or a Lombardian. Now, you’re pretty much just French.

                The freezing of the colonial borders on the map has indeed presented a problem for the ebb and flow of peoples from here and to there. I’d think it’s usually the most desperate who wish to cross borders, and often with only hungry mouths and the clothes on their backs, and who wants desperate people?

                The closing of frontiers and the cementing of political borders has created a problem largely unknown in pre-modern days.

                Indeed, America, while its frontiers were still open, had no immigration laws as we know them in the 19th century, no concept of “illegal” immigrants.

                So we can blame the cementing of the colonial borders in the mid-20th century, but this was a historical inevitablity, as Murali notes, necessary for the preservation of the order of a state internally and ideally, the end of border-war violence. [Or at least it delineates when one people encroaches on the turf of another.]

                As for Singapore, if I can believe the Wiki, it was Muslim Malaysia that booted the majority-ethnic Chinese Singapore out in 1965!

                As things turned out, this was a bad economic move, so I guess that’s why we don’t see such devolutions of sovereignty anymore. The white South Africans tried to push the blacks out into the “phony” homelands, keeping the good parts with the gold and diamond mines, but that was a no-go.

                And there’s a limit to how far we can devolve the colonial borders. Even in tiny Rwanda, we had tribes living cheek-by-jowl and we know what happened there. The former Yugoslavia, etc. Ethnic cleansing is usually the first choice.

                Und so, the freezing of the colonial borders is more a confluence of history with the closing of the frontiers and the technology of travel [motor vehicles, etc.]. No government of a nation-state seems willing to surrender territory until it becomes more trouble than it’s worth. It appears Sudan is going to let the south go, even with its oil riches. But we shall see. Two world leaders actively involved as go-betweens were Hosni Mubarak and Moammar Qaddafi, and they are otherwise occupied at the moment.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                the intensely local flavor of every successful democracy seems to imply the notion of society must of necessity arise from not only the consent but the abstract ethics of the governed.

                BlaiseP, I’m not sure I can accept the moral relativism implicit in the above statement.

                Even if it takes a while to level-set what follows the revolution, sometimes it’s necessary to be done with the prior constraints entirely.

                Call me a Tory, but I disagree with this. It is precisely because revolutions often throw up such illiberal regimes (so often more illiberal in terms of minority rights than the predecessor) that I pretty much think that there are precious few justifications for rebellion and secession if there are any.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                @TVD:

                As for Singapore, if I can believe the Wiki, it was Muslim Malaysia that booted the majority-ethnic Chinese Singapore out in 1965!

                I believe I did mention that. For a bit more clarification, Singapore wanted to go in a more race-blind direction while Malaysia wanted special rights for malays and muslims. In the end, the malays in singapore still do better in absolute terms compared to maysian malays even though the malaysians have pro-malay affirmativre action. i.e. we were sufficiently culturally different that bumiputra policy was less appealing to singaporean malaysians than it was to the rest of malaysia.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Murali
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                @Murali:
                BlaiseP, I’m not sure I can accept the moral relativism implicit in the above statement.

                I’m not implying moral relativism. Justice must be local. I argue along these lines: government is reactive. Its efficiency varies directly with the length of the round trip between action and consequence.

                Therefore, according to the principles of justice delayed is justice denied and many other such obvious statements about the consent of the governed, I don’t see why “relativism” should be an ethical impediment.

                Even if it takes a while to level-set what follows the revolution, sometimes it’s necessary to be done with the prior constraints entirely.

                Call me a Tory, but I disagree with this.

                Call me a Burkean. Revolutions do not throw up regimes. They tear down regimes. Everyone remembers Burke for his warnings about the French Revolution. Few seem to remember Edmund Burke was the greatest friend the American Revolution ever had, greater even than those who shouldered arms for our side. Those who invoke Toryism in knee-jerk defense of the miserable status-quo ought study those differences. “A state without the means of change is without the means of its conservation.”Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to Murali
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                Stupid spelling mistakes. Sovereignty!Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to Murali
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                Gentlemen, gentlemen, what hath thee wrought? A little thought experiment if you don’t mind. Okay, tomorrow it is officially declared by all countries and states, that all borders shall be open, forthwith. No protection of any borders whatsoever. Open borders, means open borders. Now, where do you suppose 90% of the people who would like to leave their countries would want to immigrate to? Cuba? Sort of doubt it. North Korea? Tough call, even with universal “health insurance”. You’d have a better chance of survival if you went to Dr. Death Kevorkian. The waiting list for STDs is easily about 10 years. Internal surgeries of any kind are at least a twenty year wait. Vietnam? They’re making some progress with reforms and opening up their markets somewhat, but you’re still pretty screwed once you get to any of their hospitals. So let’s get real here. At least 90% of people who want to emigrate from their home states and immigrate to a new country choose the United States. Can you blame them? And with this “one world” Utopian vision of open borders, could the US absorb another 6 billion immigrants?
                Face it, this is still the land of milk and honey and it’s still the preferred destination of almost all freedom loving immigrants. Can’t recall a single person every attempting to enter Cuba by inner tube or a raft made out bamboo and tires, or just tires, or beach balls….No, the only accurate measurement one needs to see, is how many people attempt to leave their country compared to how many people want to enter—hundreds of thousands, millions(?) want to enter United States. Cuba–O; North Korea. O; Vietnam. O; China-not sure. no stats–probably less than a thousand. Laos–O What more does one need to know about Communism?Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Heidegger
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                The Grammar Pedant observes it’s “what hast thou wrought”.

                Given a choice, the rich Chinese choose Canada, specifically Hongcouver.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to BlaiseP
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                Greetings from Hongcouver! Thanks so much for the correction, BlaiseP. It’s always welcome. And “what hast thou wrought” sounds and feels so much better. Funny thing about language. Sometimes, with no formal or logical reason to back it up, something’s just don’t feel or sound right. Is that Chomsky’s “universal grammar” thing going on? “What hast thou wrought” is an infinitely better expression compared to the words I used. But I could not tell you exactly why. Thanks again.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to BlaiseP
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                Sorta helps to read the King James Bible to get a grip on Thee and Thou.

                The Quaker pacifist encounters a burglar in his storeroom. “I would not harm thee for all the world, but thou art standing where I am about to shoot.”Report

              • Avatar James K in reply to Murali
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                That’s a very interesting perspective.

                My attempt at a counter (I honestly don’t know how much stock to put in this):
                Placing outsized focus on national borders makes people more likely to think of people in other countries as “Others” to be mistrusted. This leads to greater demand for trade barriers by voters.

                A world in which people thought national borders were no big deal could have more international trade and therefore lower international and intranational violence.Report

              • Avatar Murali in reply to James K
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                It would also have more jurisdidctional disputes. i.e. for national borders not to matter we would need a one world government, which in itself wouldnt be so bad. One world wide sovereign state. Or a federation of sovereign states like the EU except throughout the world. We could call it WU (World Union). Individual sovereigns could voluntarily had over parts of their sovereignty to the governing body. The only worry may be that it would be extremely inefficient, but I suppose that there are governance soutions to such inefficiency as well.Report

              • Avatar Heidegger in reply to James K
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                James K—-are you THE James K? The gentleman from New Zealand? Well, I certainly hope so-have always enjoyed reading your comments, often funny and always interesting–if your are he, a hearty handshake and welcome back, my friend!Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James K
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              To be clear, my analysis there was purely descriptive, even the “why it matters” statement. I’m not saying it should be this way. International law around conflict is just a very circumscribed doctrine; it is certainly not one that puts into effect a regime encompassing a full accounting of any universal human morality. I’m not defending it to that degree. But it is also in evolution, and many of its main exponents have that as their theoretical endpoint. To that degree, I tend to think we shouldn’t be completely dismissive of the international law such that we have as it is understood in its current embodiment, and that is the basis I had for saying that it would “matter” in a more clear way if had Qaddafi invaded a neighbor state using his armed forces in a way that it is less clear what the implications are when he turned them on his own people. I didn’t mean to say that it doesn;t matter that he did that; in fact, contrary to E.D. view (I think) I tend to agree with the Security Council’s determniation that force was justifiable in response to what he was preparing to do in Benghazi. That, however, does not mean that the U.S., with the past decade that we have experienced, was obligated to lead the effort to apply that force. But as the inimitable Freddie L’Hote has pointing out at his blog, that Imperial-Leadership role is still how our country’s elite sees itself, and we can probably expect actions like this to be undertaken from time to time throughout the length of our decline, until we have finally internalized a different kind of international identity for our country. Expect that to be a long, Loooonnngg time coming, however. We’re not that weak yet, and we’ll gladly gut our schools and hospitals before giving up that elite identity for good.

              Pass me the Talisker.Report

            • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to James K
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              James K

              “the principle of inviolable national borders still sits badly with me.”

              It sits badly with the UNSC at times as well, which is why they occasionally (more than occasionally?) authorize interventions. The point is just that outside of such authorizations, interventions of violence (even against intrastate violence) are illegal. That’s what the law says.Report

  5. Avatar c141nav
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    Democracy and violence can ill go together.Report

  6. Avatar keddaw
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    I have a deeper problem with interventions like this: we are forcing our fellow citizens to risk their lives in a humanitarian mission in order to salve our conscience.

    There is no direct or indirect threat to our nation so why should our defense department be getting involved?

    If you think the situation demands action then tool up and ship out. I may even pay for your guns and ammo, but what I won’t do is force other citizens to go along with you under threat of jail. Citizens of many countries joined in the Spanish civil war but we did not intervene as a nation, we allowed people to act according to their conscience and did not weigh in militarily.

    It’s like being kidnapped and then being told by the police that they won’t rescue you because you are in the kidnapper’s house and they don’t feel it would be right to intrude on their privacy.

    And who the heck elected the US to be the world’s police? If you don’t like what’s going on then get involved, but don’t expect your fellow taxpayers to fund you or come along if they don’t want to.Report

    • Avatar James K in reply to keddaw
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      Oh, I understand your point. I don’t think the US should intervene, I just think that sovereignty is a bad reason not to.Report

    • Avatar Michael Drew in reply to keddaw
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      This is why presidents should have to go to Congress before committing U.S. soldiers and firepower, except in cases of emergent need for immediate defense of U.S. territory, possessisons or vital interest abroad. If the Congress signs off that a given use of our power is in the interest of the country (or otherwise justified for that matter), then that kind of has to be a legitimate answer to your view that U.S. forces under command of the DoD (i.e. facing court martial for failure to follow orders) should never be used for that kind of thing. Your fellow citizens, via their Representatives, might overrule you. But that decision shouldn’t be available to one man — again, excepting the case where he truly must act within minutes, say, (if he can) to protect the country.Report

  7. Avatar Jaybird
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    My nephew is exploring the phase where it’s very important to him to know who is older than whom. Specifically, he’s trying to figure out the dynamics for “who gets to tell whom what to do”.

    He knows that grown-ups can tell him what to do because they’re older and he has somewhat more leeway in telling his little brother what to do than little brother does to him.

    But there are also dynamics where police can tell mommy and daddy what to do and the president can tell the police what to do. The universe is a web of people telling other people what to do and it’s very important to figure those threads out.

    Who’s older? Kadhaffi or Obama? We should be able to figure this stuff out before lunchtime.Report

  8. Avatar tom van dyke
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    Aside from a passing reference in the OP, the name “Obama” is conspicuous by its absence.

    This Libya thing is the president’s baby start to finish—no national discussion, no meaningful consultation with Congress. We have no idea, only hope, that we’re supporting the good guys here. We are not supporting a “democracy movement,” as in Egypt: we are taking sides in a civil war.

    It’s difficult to plug this particular conflagration into a larger discussion of overarching principles, because one size does not fit all. And nobody—not even “liberal and neoconservative hawks, [or] diehard supporters of Obama”—believes we should stick our nose in everywhere there’s trouble.Report

      • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Jaybird
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        Kaddaffffy has hidden weapons of mass destruction?Report

      • Avatar Scott in reply to Jaybird
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        Not only did Bush know, it is his fault that the US is bombing Libya.Report

      • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Jaybird
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        Bush knew.

        Of all the preposterous things to accuse Bush of, the most transparently false is knowing anything.Report

        • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling
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          Mike:

          Obama and Biden can truthfully be called liars and hypocrites. After Obama’s Libya stunt, I really don’t want to hear anymore about how bad Bush was.Report

          • Avatar tom van dyke in reply to Scott
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            My own fault for burying my more substantive comments under mention of BDS. The opportunity to change the subject from President Obama to the well-rehearsed [and emotionally gratifying] dump on Dubya is a sphincter that opens wide with minimal encouragement.

            In defense of President Carter, he couldn’t have reasonably been expected to anticipate Islamicism as the scourge of the 21st century to arise out of booting the Shah. Or out of arming the mujahideen in Afghanistan against the Soviets either. Communism seemed to be the existential threat to Western civilization—not Islam, our historical but then-quiescent and technologically backward enemy.

            What President Obama is up to, I dunno, and leaks from his administration indicate he doesn’t know either, and that’s the problem. If he were an unabashed Wilsonian, or John Stuart Mill-ian [see above] or even a damned neo-con Bush Doctrinaire, we’d know where he’s coming from, and so would the world.

            We—not just the world at large, but we, his own people!—simply cannot gauge him. There is a huge difference between a man who reacts based on his sentiments, and a man who acts according to his principles.Report

          • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Scott
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            says:

            After Obama’s Libya stunt, I really don’t want to hear anymore about how bad Bush was.

            If I recall correctly, you didn’t want to hear about it beforehand either. I’m not thrilled about Libya either, but I’ll wait until we’ve been occupying it for eight years with no end in sight before I call it the equivalent of Iraq.Report

            • Avatar Mike Schilling in reply to Mike Schilling
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              says:

              Crap.Fixed?Report

            • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              Besides Quadaffy was in power when Bush was, so Bush knew him and left Barry the mess!Report

            • Avatar Scott in reply to Mike Schilling
              Ignored
              says:

              Mike:

              Didn’t Bush at least get Congress’ ok before attacking unlike Barry, who just acted on a whim one day b/c it seemed like a good idea? by that criteria alone, Bush is already way ahead of Barry and Joe.

              I wonder if Biden will do to Obama what he threatened to do to Bush? BIDEN FLASHBACK: “If he gives authorization to war without congressional approval, I will make it my business to impeach him!”Report

              • Avatar Jaybird in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                “I didn’t hear you complain when *YOUR* side did it!!!”

                Hey! Do you know why it’s in our country’s best interest to bring stability to Libya?

                Oil!Report

              • Avatar Scott in reply to Chris
                Ignored
                says:

                From today’s NYT

                “The regime still vastly overmatches opposition forces militarily,” Gen. Carter F. Ham, the ranking American in the coalition operation, warned in an email message on Monday. “The regime possesses the capability to roll them back very quickly. Coalition air power is the major reason that has not happened.”

                Now that Barry hit the tar baby he can’t let go lest the rebels fail. I thought a Harvard man like Barry would have been smart enough not to repeat the mistakes allegedly made by Bush.Report

              • Avatar BlaiseP in reply to Scott
                Ignored
                says:

                Pay no attention to the Pentagon. They’ve consistently overestimated the threat everywhere.

                Barry has superbly managed the Libyan situation with bloodless aplomb. As with Eisenhower, Obama weighs his options and judges outcomes with complete dispassion, controlling the Pentagon. Bush let the Pentagon control him. Big difference.Report

        • Avatar Robert Cheeks in reply to Mike Schilling
          Ignored
          says:

          I dunno Mikie, I’m kinda missin’ that good, ol’ Texas boy. Sure he didn’t arrest Barney Fwank, Chris Dodd, and Maxine Waters and avoid the Freddy/Fanny collapse but, hey, nobody’s perfect.Report

    • Avatar Heidegger in reply to tom van dyke
      Ignored
      says:

      Tom, The Flying Dutchman, Der fliegende Holländer, excellent and very interesting comments, sir!
      One thing worth noting, because I’m starting to hear the howling hyenas sing to the moon, and it ain’t a particularly a pleasant, musical experience, but the Bush Derangement Syndrome is still very, very much alive. The freaks and mental defectives are now blaming Bush for Libya!! (By the way, none of these pejoratives are directed at any Leaguers) Yes, Libya, because Bush paid “scant” attention to the “growing crisis” there. Naturally, Bush and Cheney didn’t want to disturb Libya because of all the oil they were going steal. I even saw a few pictures of Cheney driving an 18-wheel oil tanker to one of W’s cigarette boats. So yes, W turned a blind eye and let 9/11 happen so as to launch us into The Eternal War!! Okay, granted, the guy’s a certifiable loon, gives 4 hour speeches that invariably end with several suicides in the crowd–hey, can you blame them? I thought Castro was bad. But he could prove be a very important asset. With torture now illegal, or at least the water boarding form of enhanced interrogation, KillDaffy cold interrogate terrorists like no one else–they would be begging for water boarding or death by firing squad. He is simply a walking, breathing, weapon of mass destruction. Potent. We could even pay him for his “speaking” engagements and no terrorist would have the fortitude to endure such excruciating misery. And terrorists who can only speak only English no problem–we’ll simply send in the inestimable BlaiseP , who will mercilessly question them to the point that their heads with literally explode–much like that movie, “Scanners” .Report

  9. Avatar tom van dyke
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    says:

    From a “diehard supporter of Obama,” John Stuart Mill:

    Finally, let me conclude with a quote from the great philosopher John Stuart Mill. “War is an ugly thing, but not the ugliest of things; the decayed and degraded state of moral and patriotic feeling which thinks nothing worth a war, is worse. When a people are used as mere human instruments for firing cannon or thrusting bayonets, in the service and for the selfish purposes of a master, such war degrades a people. A war to protect other human beings against tyrannical injustice; a war to give victory to their own ideas of right and good, and which is their own war, carried on for a free purpose by their free choice–is often the means of their regeneration…As long as justice and injustice have not terminated their ever renewing fight for ascendancy in the affairs of mankind, human beings must be willing, when need is, to do battle for the one against the other.”

    From the comments section below. I love it. The irony eats its own tail.

    http://pajamasmedia.com/rogerkimball/2011/03/26/the-emperor-seth-and-kinetic-islam/Report

  10. Avatar Scott
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    says:

    Barry has now defined the Obama doctrine, that preventing the killing of civilians is in the US national interest, where will the US bomb next? Any guesses?Report

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