Rieff on Liberal Interventionists, Buchanan on the Ladies of War, Dreyfuss on the Colonel Making "Good Points"


Some interesting critical takes on the situation in Libya from the left (David Rieff writing in The New Republic) and the right (George Will in The Washington Post), both of whom make strong cases against America's confused, rudderless involvement in the United Nations actions in Libya. Rieff, who has written an enormous amount on humanitarian interventions, has a few questions for liberal internationalists (Remember them?) who supported both the war in Iraq and strikes against Libya.

This war—let us call it by its right name, for once—will be remembered to a considerable extent as a war made by intellectuals, and cheered on by intellectuals. The main difference this time is that, particularly in the United States, these intellectuals largely come from the liberal rather than the conservative side. Presumably, when the war goes wrong, they will disown it, blaming the Obama administration for having botched it, in much the same way that many neoconservatives blamed Secretary of Defense Rumsfeld for his strategic errors, rather than blaming themselves for urging a war that never had a chance of transforming Iraq in the way that they hoped. The judgment of history will almost certainly be that it was Iran, not the United States, which won that war. And Libya? Anything is possible, of course, but the odds of this war, so grandiose in terms of the moral claims made for its necessity and so incoherent in its tactics, turning out in the way its advocates are promising seem remarkably small.

Like most of those blogging and writing opinion pieces on the crisis, Rieff is writing about intellectuals for intellectuals. And much of the blogosphere muttering about Libya is tedious back-and-forths about who's being hypocritical; what so-and-so said about Iraq and what they are saying today; how Iraq and Libya are different (or the same); what effect the strikes will have on Obama's election chances in 2012, etc.

While some of this stuff is interesting—and some of it important, like those debates of congressional authorization of military action—a few rather distressing things have been happening on the ground in Libya. As Time magazine reports (and most everyone could have predicted), despite the air cover provided by American, British, and French planes, the anti-Qaddafi forces haven't moved an inch. They are surely brave men, but they don't appear to be particularly good soldiers. So while the administration says that their goal isn't "regime change," but they would be quite happy to see the drape-wearing Colonel disappear, it's a mystery as to just who will take the lead in removing him, especially when they seem rather content dug in in Benghazi. Untrained, underequipped fighters can survive when provided air cover from the USAF, but it sure sounds like a recipe for a stalemate and a country split in two.

So there you have the clever arguments of Rieff and Will. How about the not-so-clever arguments of Pat Buchanan, who on MSNBC today wondered about those emotional broads in the administration—Susan Rice, Samantha Power, and Hillary Clinton—who pushed the president to act. Or this masterpiece of stupid, from The Nation magazine's Robert Dreyfuss, former "Middle East intelligence" director for Lyndon LaRouche's Executive Intelligence Review. It's only necessary to quote a single line:

Meanwhile, Qaddafi is making some good points.

I'll let you click through to read Qaddafi's "good points"—no spoilers!—which, as you might have guessed, don't actually qualify as good points.

NEXT: Will Rand Run?

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  1. Intellectuals on both sides can pine for the days when we would get the CIA behind the scenes there, (relatively) quietly engineering a change of regime.

  2. “The judgment of history will almost certainly be that it was Iran, not the United States, which won that war.”

    Judgement of history?!

    Long time commenters may remember that some of us opposed the Iraq War on those very grounds–right here in the comment section of Hit & Run!

    Judgement of history?! I remember opposing the war on those grounds when the war started.

    The comment section at Hit & Run–tomorrow’s judgement of history today!

  3. Why does the U.S. insist on picking women to be Secretaries of State, when the misanthropic Middle East is such a large part of our foreign policy focus? Are there no qualified men?

    1. There are no qualified humans. Also, the Middle East is pretty anti-white and anti-infidel, so you might as well suggest Secretaries of State be Arab Muslim men.

      1. Just you wait.

    2. That was horsetrading…

      Obama wanted to be able to concentrate his election efforts on beating the Republicans–and not having to worry about Hillary Clinton challenging him from his left.

      I’ll throw in the towel if you make me your Secretary of State when you get elected…

      Horse trading. That’s what politics is all about.

      1. worry about Hillary Clinton challenging him from his left.

        I think Hillary would have challenged him from his right.

        1. Regardless, he didn’t have to worry about anybody challenging him for the Democratic nomination once Hillary was thoroughly slopped.

      2. Well Hillary looks a bit like a horse – the teeth, the rear end, etc.

        1. I had a hardon for Hillary back in 1993.

          1. Same here. She was cute until the old donnas of Washington decided she needed to look more like them. It was the Pink moment that did her in.

  4. Look Hanrahan, Buchanon’s “not so clever argument” is most likely the correct one. Unless you know which swinging dick in the administration made him change his mind.

    1. Weigel (the author of the Newt hit piece you linked to) was for the Iraq war before he was against it.

      My guess is that he is for Libya intervention….and it will be a testament to his ratfucker hackdom the length of time it takes him to change his position.

  5. Have to ask it again: Why did we name this mission after a military voyage that took 10 years and only one guy survived from?

    1. Would you prefer Operation: Why Are We Doing This Again?

    2. Well, we are sort of flailing around the Mediterranean trying to figure out what we’re doing and not knowing when we’ll go home, so it’s apropos, is it not?

      1. No War for Cyclops Oil!

        It could also be a promotion for that lame Red Dawn remake.

        1. Leave Polyphemus alone! Leave him alone, I’m serious!

          1. Didn’t Poseidon destroy Odysseus’ ship because he taunted Polyphemus after blinding him? Hubris.

    3. Obama probably remembers that the one survivor was the captain of the ship, and he got some babes on the way.

    4. Minivan?

  6. Once again, TEAM BLUE dipshits, please come and tell us how this is different from Bush. Please, it’s so god damned funny.

    1. Iraq and Afghanistan are in Asia. Libya is in Africa. So there’s that…

    2. Once again, TEAM BLUE dipshits, please come and tell us how this is different from Bush.

      I am still convinced that the primary difference is France.

      On a more serious note TEAM BLUE was with Bush at the start of the Iraq war. To be fair to the left i think they are doing a better job (initially at least) of opposing Obama’s War then they did with the initial phases of Bush’s war.

    3. Puts on his Team Blue hat:

      The right people are in charge. That is all we need to know.

    4. That’s easy, at the present time it is a much different operation than Iraq. It’s much more comparable to the Bosnian air strike period. If we invade and occupy then yes it would be very much like Iraq.

      1. There’s a good chance Gafiddy wins back all the lost territory if we don’t put boots on the ground. Is Obama going to allow that level of personal humiliation to occur? I doubt it.

  7. Bitch wasThey were asking for it.

  8. I don’t think that the action of the U.S. is going to matter in the long run. People — critics and supporters — will forget and move on.

    This is no big deal, considering that we’re still launching FKRs into Pakistan.

  9. but it sure sounds like a recipe for a stalemate and a country split in two.

    To be fair i would be more apt to support a war that splits a county in two then one that unifies it.

    The idea that a tribal society held together by a dictator for 30 years (40?) should retain a centralized government seems idiotic to me. The US is the first and longest and the most stable democracy in the world…why the fuck do Dems and Republicans (with iraq) somehow think that a group of federalized states is less prone to democratic reform then a centralized government?

    Anyway i am going off on a tangent…either way i am against US intervention.

  10. I want to start a dead pool on when the pro-intervention left calls opponents to intervention anti-American.

    My bet is 5 days.

    1. I’m looking for the first “objectively pro-Gaddafi”.

      It’s on the way. I’m sure.

    2. Ha! Five days from now, it will be over and the Libyans will be throwing pro-US parades in the streets of Tripoli!

      1. We’ll be greeted as liberators!

        1. ! Mission Accomplished !

  11. I love a parade.

  12. Don’t underestimate the importance of ‘fenq shui’ in international affairs.

    James Hoban, an irishman, designed the oval office to focus a blood lust on its occupant. He assumed the blood lust would be directed on the Brits, but Andrew Jackson, a well-known warlock, added a curse to the oval office’s already considerable powers, that only the blood of brown people would satiate the occupant.

    None of the office’s occupants have been able to resist its powers. Jimmy Carter, like Hoover and others, had the Secret Service bring him hobos to strangle to hold the blood lust in check. Reagan and Clinton preferred hookers. Obama seems particularly susceptiable to the office’s powers. Normally the daily combat reports from Afghanistan and Drone killings in Warzistan would have sasiated him. Perhaps the Afghan and Pakistan blood wasn’t “brown” enough, or perhaps his kenyan ancestery is prone to witchcraft.

    What is demonstrated is that his blood lust is increasing and god help us if this third conflict doesn’t satisfy his killing fever.

    1. How did William McKinley hold off the curse?

      Is Spain inhabited by “brown” people?

      1. Brownish

        Powerful warlocks like Lincoln, FDR and Wilson can thwart the Jacksonian curse but then require even more blood – rivers of it.

        Sadly for Hogan, the US only had one war with the Brits.

        1. I’m guessing you mean, after the White House was built.

          Re McKinley, it was the Spanish-American War but it was fought mostly against brown-skinned people. So no, he fell prey too.

  13. Apart from the fact that we are talking about a very different military operation here, both in degree and kind, there are other differences. Libya was in much more of a state of open rebellion than Iraq was, and it was occurring within a ‘wave’ of rebellions in the area, which was not true for Iraq. Iraq was sold in part as retaliation for an attack on the US, pre-emption of a predicted future attack on the US, and disarming of WMDs while I’ve heard none of those used as justifications for this. This action is done with UN approval, Iraq was not. Other nations are taking a larger proportional role in this action relative to Iraq.

    I mean really guys, the differences are very numerous. I have some serious problems with this action (i.e., these kind of operations have a tendency to expand into dangerous adventurism, we should always be reluctant to use force, no approval from Congress, and the timing could not have been worse). But when I come here I see the goofiest opposition I’ve seen in a long time. Never have I seen your anti-Obama hysteria get the best of you as in this case of everyone repeated yelling of “Same as Bush in Iraq, same as Bush in Iraq!” By the logic going around here the War of 1812, WWII, Reagan’s Libya strikes, etc., are “all the same” (after all they all used military force on another nation, about the only thing in common between this action and Iraq).

    1. Sorry, but I think the question is: “How is what the US is trying to do different than what we wanted to do in Iraq?”

      Not how are the two situations similar.

      Isn’t the endgame the same in both? To remove a brutal regime that is oppressing its people and replace it with what?

      As with Iraq, the question really wasn’t removing the government. It was putting something in to replace it.

    2. There were failed rebellions in Iraq too. In fact, in Kurdistan there was a functioning independent Kurdish govt under the auspices of Op Northern Watch.

      The fact that we jumped in just before the Libyan rebellion failed doesn’t make this somehow justified.

    3. Why do you keep repeating that same stale argument? Do you think if you keep repeating it that it will become true?

    4. But when I come here I see the goofiest opposition I’ve seen in a long time. Never have I seen your anti-Obama hysteria get the best of you as in this case of everyone repeated yelling of “Same as Bush in Iraq, same as Bush in Iraq!”

      Oh my! LMLBCO! He zigs and zags with all the dexterity of a dead mule. Who didn’t see this coming from the old mung whore?

  14. I’m getting kind of sick of these warmongering douchebags being called “intellectuals”. Murray Rothebard was an intellectual. Barrack Obama is a poseur.


    1. I did graduate from Harvard and did win a Peace Prize that was not from a Crackerjack box.

  15. Since it’s not happening anyplace else, can we negotiate a peace here at hnr? Obviously Gaddafi can hold coastal Tripolitania. Fezzan and Cyrenaica are lost and retaking them will cost a lot of “civilian” lives. So how about a confederation where Libya has essentially 0 control over daily lives, except that dividends from mineral wealth are distributed by census. Essentially this means Cyrenaica buying peace.

  16. Obama still has some outs. The ideal situation being Qaddafi stepping down.

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