In trying to understand what seems to be, well, I don't know a delicate way to put it, the growing goatfuck in Libya, I turned to Professor Juan Cole, whose Informed Comment blog is one of the best sources of analysis on the Middle East. He lists ten ways that the Libyan intervention is not Iraq 2003. Among them, the action has UN Security Council authorization; the Libyan people "had risen up and thrown off the Qaddafi regime, with some 80-90 percent of the country having gone out of his hands before he started having tank commanders fire shells into peaceful crowds"; civilians were being massacred and worse was to follow, and the Arab League calling for action.
Maybe. But I can't help this nagging feeling that Uncle Sucker has once again been lured into a Wilsonian/Bushian "make the world safe for democracy" swindle, while more complex, hypocritical, realpolitik, cynical and sinister forces are at work. It is no surprise that France pushed hard for action, not wanting to be on the receiving end of a million impossible-to-assimilate Muslim refugees, but Mr. Carla Bruni will publicize this with Liberté, égalité, fraternité. No surprise, either, that Arab League members started to squawk once the cruise missiles began landing. It's reminiscent of the days when the United States would take out some dictator in Latin America, bringing instant public condemnation of "imperialism!" by leaders in the region who were saying, sotto voce, "Thank God they got him!" And how nice to make our Chinese debt-holders squirm even a little at the prospect that the next popular uprising just might show up outside their politburo meeting.
Still, what's the end game here? No Fly Zones are well and good and militarily...what? Actually, the only NFZ I know that was working was the one we maintained for a decade against Saddam Hussein. Otherwise, the intervention must expand or fail, for the good colonel is not committing most of his civilian killings with air power, but with ground forces. So, as Sir Sean Connery's character demands of Kevin Costner's Eliot Ness in The Untouchables, "What are you prepared to do?" One can't escape the conclusion that President Hoover and Mrs. Clinton didn't really think that one through, and Bob Gates was just too damned tired or distracted to intervene. Instead of World War III, we'll just have three wars in the world, sapping America. Forgive me for imagining the cynical Europeans and Perfidious Albion (the Royal Navy fired one cruise missile on the day the attack began) are just itching for a way to hand the mess off to us.
About the only thing we can do well on a big scale any more is getting into wars. And it's highly profitable for the Military-Industrial Complex.
It's also unsustainable, dangerous to this republic and, if allowed to continue, can only end in grief and bloodshed at home. I won't claim to know what the Arab awakening means. If it's 1848, where will the crushed refugees go? Back then, much of the flower of German musical and intellectual life came to Cincinnati, making it a great American city. But remember, the old order reasserted itself in Europe. In the Middle East, we are backing autocrats in Yemen and, ahem, Saudi Arabia. What are a few dead Bahrainis as long as American suburbanites can keep their car-based lifestyle?
So the No Fly Zone is nearly established and we're being told soothing things, just as we're being tranquilized about what's really going on at those reactors in Japan. I don't have a good feeling about this.