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"If this is liberalism, you can keep it"

The Guardian is known as "the world's leading liberal voice".  That voice, via Simon Jenkin's latest column, is speaking loudly in opposition to the West's intervention in Libya:

Welcome to 21st-century war, liberal style. You do not fix an objective and use main force to get it. You nuance words, bomb a little, half assassinate, scare, twist, spin and make it up as you go along. Nato's Libyan campaign is proving a field day for the new interventionism. Seemingly desperate to scratch another Muslim itch, Britain's laptop bombardiers and their tame lawyers go into a daily huddle to choreograph the latest visitation of death on some wretched foreigners.

Each day the tacticians tot up a gruesome calculus of wins and losses. Wednesday's defection of Libya's foreign minister, Moussa Koussa, somehow cancelled out two days of retreat by the rebels towards Benghazi. That retreat cancelled out a weekend of victory over Gaddafi's army along the northern highway. Nato bombing cancelled out rebel ineffectiveness. Everything is stalemate punctuated by surprise.

Meanwhile the legal niceties border on the absurd. We cannot kill Gaddafi, unless we describe killing as "all necessary measures". We observe an arms embargo, except apparently if the arms are going to our side and are thus "protecting innocent civilians". Guilty civilians are unprotected. We are forbidden from injecting "a foreign occupying force of any form" into Libya, except if it is a "special force" and aiding the bombing with targeting intelligence. The bombing of Gaddafi's compound and the witnessed killing of civilians in Sirte clearly breached UN resolution 1973. But who cares? As George Bush and Tony Blair found, you can drum up an international lawyer to defend anything.

Gaddafi's survival is ostensibly insane. He is the tinpot dictator of a tiny country that Nato could topple in a day. It could bomb his palace, take out his tanks, land paratroops on his airport and ship in reinforcements. Libya is not Iraq or Afghanistan. Nato could set up a client regime, as in Bosnia, secure the oil and give two fingers to the Arab world, as the west always does when its interest so requires.

Instead we have the ludicrous position that Nato can save Benghazi by taking out a tank column and then laying a bombed strip to the west. But all this does is encourage reckless rebels to drive towards Tripoli and die. The maxim is old as the hills. No war can be won from the air. A temporary balance of advantage can be awarded to one side, but pilots can only destroy. Bombs are inherently crude tools of war. They cannot seize and hold land.

At present Nato strategy appears to be to prolong civil war by bolstering the weaker side. It is the equivalent of refereeing a bare-knuckle fight so as to keep the contestants on their feet and still punching.


The trouble with liberal interventionism is that it lacks the courage of its neo-imperialist conviction. It claims to know what is best for the world and glories in bombing to get its way. But when push comes to shove it backs off. So we have just a few bombs on the road to Benghazi, one Tomahawk on Gaddafi's compound, a few shells to terrorise Sirte, a handful of RPGs to keep the rebels from despair. It makes us feel good. If this is liberalism, you can keep it.

It is indeed liberalism... and most of us don't want a damned thing to do with it. 

Read the entire piece and be warmed by the fact that some are seeing liberalism for what it truly is... if only temporarily.


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Comments (18)

"It makes us feel good."</p... (Below threshold)

"It makes us feel good."

Isn't that what liberalism is all about, "feeling good"?

I believed at the outset (a... (Below threshold)
James H:

I believed at the outset (and continue to believe now) that intervention in Libya is a bad idea. And even if somebody should intervene in Libya, that doesn't mean the United States should have intervened in Libya.

Like everything else with l... (Below threshold)
jim m:

Like everything else with liberals the point is control.

It was never the objective to get rid of Gaddafi. The point was always to control him. obama never said anything about taking him out, just that he should step down. That's why we don't get any firm statement of the objectives of the military intervention. The real objective is to try to manipulate Gaddafi into doing what obama wants.

obama ultimately doesn't care if Gaddafi stays or goes he just wants him to stop being a thorn in his side. There is no real concern for the people of Libya. obama said that he didn't care if we left Saddam in power and there was a genocide that followed because of our intervention. To pretend that he actually cares about human rights of anyone anywhere is just foolishness.

Gaddafi's biggest crime is ... (Below threshold)

Gaddafi's biggest crime is being in the news during a time when Obama needed a bump in the polls.

Let's make a quick review o... (Below threshold)
Rodnehy Graves:

Let's make a quick review of the post WWII military interventions by the United States:

Korea (Democrat Harry S. Truman)
Result: Ceasefire, no peace treaty to date, Korea sill divided.

First U. S. Advisers 1950 (Truman), provision of arms and training to South Vietnamese forces.
Rejection of French request for major intervention, 1954 (Eisenhower)
French surrender at Dien Bien Phu April 1954
U. S. Advisers tripled, 1961 (Kennedy)
U. S. Advisers re-tripled (9x 1960 levels), 1962 (Kennedy)
U. S. Combat Troops, 1965 (Johnson)
Cross Border operations (Laos and Cambodia), 1966 (Johnson).
Tet Offensive, peak of U. S. Involvement, 1968 (Johnson)
Vietnamization and increased Cross Border operations and bombing (Laos and Cambodia), 1969 (Nixon)
Withdrawal, 1973 (Nixon)
Fall of Saigon, 30 April 1975 (Ford)
Result: Loss

Iranian Revolution and Hostage Rescue, 1979-1981 (Carter)
Result: Loss

Grenada, 1983 (Reagan)
Result: Won

Lebanon international Peace Keeping force, 1982-1983 (Reagan)
Result: Loss

El Dorado Canyon (bombing of Libya), 1986 (Reagan)
Result: Draw (Libya hobbled, not defeated)

Gulf War I (Iraq, Desert Storm), 1990-1991 (GHW Bush)
Result: Won

Bosnia, initial intervention, 1992 (GHW Bush)
NATO Ground Troops, 1993 (Clinton)
Air Campaign (Deliberate Force) 1995 (Clinton)
Result: Won

Mogadishu, UNISOM1, 1992 (GHW Bush)
Unisom2/Blackhawk Down, 1993 (Clinton)
Result: Loss

Haiti (Uphold Democracy), 1995-1996 (Clinton)
Result: Draw

Global War on Terror

Afghanistan, 2001-Present (GW Bush, Obama)

Iraq, 2003-2008 (GW Bush)
Result: Won

Libya, 2011 (Obama)

Left out a couple, didn't y... (Below threshold)
Bruce Henry:

Left out a couple, didn't ya, Rodney?

Among them the Dominican Republic 1965, Panama 1989, and Kosovo 1999.

And your simple(minded) summation of the results into "won", "loss", or "draw", is absurd. For instance, Iraq is "won"? Really? You consider it a "win" that Iran has been relieved of a flanking counterweight and gained an ally?

In any event, this excerpt is proof that liberals don't march in lockstep as conservatives do. Conservatives, no matter what differences they may have amongst themselves, ALWAYS agree that whatever Obama decides is wrong, and quite possibly evil.

The excerpt also gives voice to many of my own concerns about Obama's policy on Libya. I'm not alone in my apprehensions, either.

liberals don't march in ... (Below threshold)
jim m:

liberals don't march in lockstep as conservatives do.

Or more accurately, Conservatives back their words with actions whereas liberals are hypocritical SOB's that demagogue the anti-war stance when they are out of power in an effort to bring down a GOP government and when they are in power feel free to ignore minor issues like the constitution and separation of powers in order to get their way.

The stench of hypocrisy from the left is staggering. Where are the street protests? Where is the wall to wall negative media coverage? We already know that "dissent is the highest form of patriotism" died when obama took office because the line immediately became "dissent is sedition".

I don't see the point in Rodney's list either, but it is impossible to avoid the fact that the left has demonstrated that they have no moral compass and no interest whatsoever in human rights or freedom, but they are very much interested in grasping for power over other people's lives.

Poor Bruce - his Obamassiah... (Below threshold)

Poor Bruce - his Obamassiah has feet of clay.

When conservatives voice different views, we're portrayed as "being in disarray".

Can we now say that 'liberals are in disarray' Bruce? Or is Jenkins a voice in the wilderness?

Hey Bruce, good news!... (Below threshold)

Hey Bruce, good news!


Looks like the US is going to continue airstrikes for the next 48 hours.

Good thing Barry has already 'exited'. Although it doesn't say much for the Commander in Chief to leave before his troops do.

Obama will do whatever Obam... (Below threshold)

Obama will do whatever Obama wants to do...or rather, whatever his Masters tell him he wants to do.

Also absent from Rodney's l... (Below threshold)

Also absent from Rodney's list is Bay of Pigs, which is what this whole Libyan adventure may become, unless we figure out what we are doing, then establish a timeline and commit the resources necessary to accomplish it.

"unless we figure out what ... (Below threshold)

"unless we figure out what we are doing"

We're there because the liberals are so fucking impressed with the sophistication and intellectual superiority of the Europeans - specifically the English and French.

At least they're smart enough to get us to do their heavy lifting - FOR THEIR OIL.

And Rick, thanks for postin... (Below threshold)

And Rick, thanks for posting this. The editorial does a good job of exposing the most serious error that intellectuals and bureaucrats make when they attempt to wage war, which is to pretend that what they are doing is not really a "war" but a "police action" or a "kinetic military action" or some other equally superfluous euphemism. Because of course they are far too intelligent and educated to ever engage in something as low-brow and callous as "war".

The silly "smart diplomacy" label which Team Obama awarded themselves should have been the first big clue about what to expect from this bunch.

"whatever Obama decides is ... (Below threshold)

"whatever Obama decides is wrong and quite possibly evil"

Until I see anything to the contrary, you nailed it Bruce.

Apropos of nothing and no o... (Below threshold)
Rodney Graves:

Apropos of nothing and no one...

It's been noted elsewhere and seems clear at this point that 0bama has the inverse Midas touch; all he touches turns to shit. As such he, and his acolytes, are semi-reliable contra-indicators.

The US won the Iraqi war in... (Below threshold)
Steve Crickmore:

The US won the Iraqi war in 2008? I suppose that is why Bush, the conquering commander wasn´t invited to the Sepetember 2008 National Republican Convention, and felt very slighted.. by liberals' you would have us believe? Hmm that is not how Bush felt. Conservativs it seems don´t have the courage of their convictions, either.

The US won the Iraqi war... (Below threshold)
Jay Guevara:

The US won the Iraqi war in 2008? I suppose that is why Bush, the conquering commander wasn´t invited to the Sepetember 2008 National Republican Convention, and felt very slighted..

Yes, the US did win the Iraqi War.

As for your Bush comment, read the history of the Civil War, and of Lincoln's experiences. Or in Crickmoreland did the North lose?

More revisionist history fr... (Below threshold)

More revisionist history from Crickmore. Bush (43) did speak at the convention, via sattelite. He canceled the "in person" appearance due to a cat 4 hurricane hitting the gulf coast.






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