Thursday, March 31, 2011

On Intervention in the Middle East

Comment from an FDL discussion of the ethics of the military intervention in Libya (Jane Hamsher is against it):
But I’m wondering what the smart folks here think the U.S. response to all these rebellious and seemingly democratic movements in the M.E. and Africa ought to be? (RFShunt, ***)
My general take on this is that peaceful support of freedom and democracy is always both ethical and, in the long term, most likely to produce the best results for the USA and the world, in many different ways.

Violence is a much harder question. I do not think it wise for the world to sit by while mass murder is done, but the why and how of military intervention troubles me. In theory, the United Nations exists partly to prevent exactly what the UN has so far prevented Qaddafi from doing. For this to end well though, military intervention has to be undertaken in the right way, and it is probably best it is undertaken for the right reasons. Right reasons we can fairly say we don’t have here: none of the leaders of this intervention have clean hands, though it is possible that Obama and Clinton are motivated by a genuine desire to see justice done. Obama does have his moments, and this may be one of them. Based on her history, I think Hilary Clinton is also motivated by humanitarian concerns. However, they can only get support for this because the US hawks are also interested in intervention, and their reasons are far less savory. As to the right way, the UN would have to provide disinterested support for freedom and democracy in Libya, and the support would have to be enough and last long enough for the rebels to win. Disinterested support for freedom and democracy isn’t in the picture, and enough support for enough time also may not be–wars are expensive.

So it’s going to depend. This is not badly begun, but I do not, personally, have much hope that it will end well.

Well, what do you expect from a raven?


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