Thursday, March 24, 2011

We've Got to Do Something, the Latest Implementation

My friend the ambivalent Obama supporter phoned me tonight, and we talked about various things. The first thing on his mind was the current war in Libya, and he wanted to know what I thought should be done there. I had to admit that I didn't have a good answer, but I was sure what shouldn't be done there, namely firing cruise missiles and aerial bombing.

After we got off the phone I found this discussion by IOZ, which was more than usually serious and thoughtful -- snark is his usual mode of choice, but every so often he does something like this.
First, what Libyans? The Libyans in the West, centered on Tripoli, who seem politically and tribally loyal to the extant regime, or the Libyans in the East, centered on Benghazi, whose own "leadership," as it has so far coalesced into something only marginally less objectionable than Qaddafi's government--indeed, has coalesced around former figures from Qaddafi's government? Even a cursory examination of the news reveals the paucity of the pro-intervention line, which would have a dictatorial government on one side and a benighted people on the other, the latter begging for our assistance. Well, no, in reality, there is an existing government on one side and a rival power on the other, and the "intervention", whatever supposed humanitarian garb it wears, is alliance with one side in a civil war. ...

And, as the playground taunt reminds us, with what army? The one "protecting" the Afghan people from the Taliban? Yes, it is true that generalized disapproval of Western power is sometimes a poor position from which to argue, but the opposite argument is more damnable still: I mean, under what specific circumstances can Western bombs bring peaceful solutions on terms acceptable to all sides? Under no circumstances. So while it may be morally correct for a hypothetical power with capacities far in excess of and motives far less questionable than those possessed by the actual West to intervene in a hypothetical conflict in which there are no dubious, hazy conditions of relative morality and relative good, in the practical, actual world, none of this obtains, and what you have, as per usual, is the US and its allies lobbing cruise missiles into a country without reason or planning; just another brutal exercise of DOING SOMETHING because the roots of our narcissism drink from a deep well of insecurity that requires we constantly blow shit up lest we admit to human limitations.
I also learned that there has been another leak of precious American secrets by a so-called "journalistic" group called the Associated Press -- in wartime yet! The anonymous culprit is a "senior U.S. defense official [who] revealed the contents of the intelligence report on condition of anonymity because it was classified secret." As Glenn Greenwald asks, "Will the guilty party be charged with a capital crime and be held in solitary confinement near a cell occupied by Bradley Manning? Only time will tell."