What John Cole Said

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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30 Responses

  1. superluminar says:

    wow – talk about straw men! FYI, by and large most of us who were pro-intervention did not use the arguments you and Cole just attributed to us. Also, you both seem to subscibe to the idea that the Rupublicans somehow wouldn’t use somewhat disingenuous justifications for any military action they choose to take, despite all evidence to the contrary.Report

    • E.D. Kain in reply to superluminar says:

      Right. Please explain how anything in either Cole or my posts backs up your last sentence in even the slightest, tiniest way.Report

      • superluminar in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        well let’s go with this…
        I can’t wait to hear the howls when President Palin insists we are not in hostilities with Iran, just bombing them and providing Israel with munitions, technology, and other assets.

        Does it change my belief that Obama’s actions sidestepping Congress will be used again in the future? No.

        Does it change my belief that intervention was sold with a flood of bullshit, with phrases like “Arab No-Fly Zone”being tossed around? No.

        Does it change the fact that the pretext for this was to stop a massacre, but we were clearly gunning for regime change from day one? No.

        Does it change my belief that every time we use our military, it will be pointed to as a reason for more and more military involvement in other places? No.

        Do you honestly think that if the Libya intervention hadn’t happened, these things would not have occcured under a Republican presidency? Yes a lot of these things are BS, but any president wanting to justify a war would have ended up using them as excuses at some point in the near future anyway.Report

        • Actually, Mr. Super, the point was giving the GOP a smack anyway for what they might do someday with Obama’s Libya as a good example.

          There’s nothing that can’t be used as a cudgel against the GOP or neo-cons or whathaveyou, The Real Enemy.

          The fact is that the right was opposed in principle to the way BHO went about this, bypassing Congress and the American people. But partisanship stops at the water’s edge, and so they let it slide.

          I happen to agree with almost all of John Cole’s bullet points about the wisdom of the Libya adventure, much on the point that we have no certainty the rebels will be better. There is much to for the people to sort out already in its neighbors Egypt and Tunisia, and they could have given us a bit of a clue how things are swinging in that part of the world.

          I also agree about the doubtful constitutionality of BHO sidestepping Congress. But until we hear howling about “shredding the constitution” and other DefCon 1 shrillness—and dragging in what the right did or might do someday—these criticisms from Obama’s left remain little more than liberaler-than-thou theater.

          [POTUS just said the US did “the bulk” of the original heavy NATO lifting. Success has a thousand fathers.]Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            It really takes commitment to maintain that Erik’s purpose in making a quite powerful argument in the here and now against Barack Obama’s (a Democrat, the sitting president in fact) actual, currently-in-execution policy toward Libya, regarding the precedent it sets for future presidents, was in fact primarily to bash the GOP in particular for things they might do in the future. Kudos, Tom.Report

            • I salute the technique, Mr. Drew, although its transparency is lost on its practitioners. Perhaps they’re unaware. But it’s glaringly obvious to those outside the bubble.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

                Apparently, Erik, you are transparently first-and-foremost a hostile (anti-)partisan.Report

              • E.D. Kain in reply to Michael Drew says:

                I think Tom is just very eager to see partisanship where none exists. He ignores the nature of the special interests, for instance. Neoconservatives have a much more powerful institutional pro-war network than anything on the left, spanning multiple publications, think-tanks, with solid support from virtually all corners of the conservative movement. On the left, there is simply not this level of support. That’s why you get Libya or Somalia under Democratic presidents, and you get Iraq under Bush. This has not always been the case (most wars last century were Democratic wars, after all) but it is now, largely thanks to the rise of neoconservatism during and after the Cold War. So if I hammer home the point about hawks and specifically about hawks on the right, there is a reason for it. But of course Tom sees what he wants to see.Report

              • Tom Van Dyke in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                That sounded awful partisan to me, EDK. Odd you don’t see it; it’s crystal clear on this side of the glass.Report

          • Mike Schilling in reply to Tom Van Dyke says:

            You really missed Cole’s point?

            He’s telling any liberal or Democrat who’s inclined to cheer for Obama right now “You’ll realize how much you hate this when a Republican does it”. He’s attacking partisans.Report

  2. Jason Kuznicki says:

    Hey, we won!

    That just proves we weren’t really fighting.

    Why do you hate America, people?Report

  3. James B Franks says:

    I was and am still for what we did in Libya simple because two of our primary allies thought it was necessary and we owe them support. Especially after lying to them about Iraq.Report

    • That strikes me as a particularly absurd reason to go to war, but okay.Report

      • Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        It may be absurd that this is the case, but support of allies is one of a number of truly well-established bases on which nations have gone to war throughout history. That fact alone, to my way of thinking, renders it something that is not absurd to take into account when forming one’s view of this action, even if it remains an unsatisfactory reason as an independent justification for our participation from the perspective of our country. I frankly think that viewing considering the wishes of our allies to be absurd in making decisions about war and peace to itself be an absurd viewpoint, and not only when those allies are opposed to a war. Again, not that it alone ought to have been enough to get us to involve ourselves, but I don’t think it’s at all absurd to think that, given history. It might have been ill-considered or simply wrong. But not absurd.Report

        • E.D. Kain in reply to Michael Drew says:

          Which of our allies was attacked by Libya?Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            Did I say one was?Report

            • E.D. Kain in reply to Michael Drew says:

              This is typically when we owe our allies our military assistance.Report

              • Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

                That is when we are *compelled by the supreme law of our Republic* to give them military assistance (if they ask — and we always can and frequently do violate the supreme law of our Republic). It is not “absurd” to think we might want to do so at other times as well, merely because they are our allies, and we want to be good allies. Maybe it would be very misguided in a given instance, such as perhaps this one (our allies can obviously at times get very bad ideas in their heads about what is in their or the world’s interests, and we should be willing to resist their wishes at such times). But it’s not *absurd* that their desires would be very important to us, potentially to the point of engaging in limited participation (meaning with minimal danger to our people and materiel , and costing us about $1B or less) in a foreign war that we’d otherwise be not much interested in if not for or allies’ interest. Maybe a bad idea. Not absurd to do it because our closest allies wanted us to. See below.Report

          • Michael Drew in reply to E.D. Kain says:

            You can say that if an ally wasn’t attacked, then we weren’t justified in aiding in the attack against Libya. But that still won’t contradict anything I’ve said. I’d be inclined to agree, though I don’t dismiss R2P completely. My position on humanitarian intervention is wildly in flux at the moment; I don’t have one, nor do I have a position on whether this war was justified or wise from our perspective.

            All I’m holding here is that it isn’t “absurd” for us to have considered the fact that Britain and France were strongly in favor of taking action in Libya in deciding our course of action, nor even for that to have finally proven the deciding factor. It’s at most massively wrongheaded policymaking. It’s not absurd.

            If England or France had actually been attacked by Libya’s state forces (acting pursuant to established state orders), then all this debate would be off the table; we’d be compelled to come to their defense. It’s not absurd to think that in a situation where our closest allies in an existing institutional alliance that invoked their responsibility to come to our aid when we were attacked thought it was in their interest to take a given action and requested our aid in so doing, that we would seriously consider those facts alone as weighing rather heavily toward offering what help we could (while strictly limiting what that would be). Again: maybe horribly misguided. Not absurd.Report

      • James B Franks in reply to E.D. Kain says:

        Let me ask a question in return, what do we owe our allies when they ask us not to block their actions in the UN and NATO? Once those actions have borne fruit how due you justify not helping them? Both under terms of our alliances, and as payback for past assistance they have given us?Report

  4. Mike Schilling says:

    I know that Balloon Juice Isn’t very popular around here, but this kind of post is why I love John Cole.Report

  5. Larry says:

    Sorry to go all Godwin here, but I can’t help imagining John Cole on VE Day:

    Does it change my belief that Poland would have been the last of Hitler’s demands? No.

    Does it change the fact that Germany’s reputation has been grossly smeared for propaganda purposes? No.

    Does it change my opinion that we’ve made zero plans for the aftermath? No.

    Does it change my belief that every time we use our military, it will be pointed to as a reason for more and more military involvement in other places? No.

    Etc., etc., and blah de blah.

    (I actually think myself, by the way, that there was and is reason to question the Libyan adventure, but quoting John Cole is just about the worst way to make that point.)Report