Moral imperialism

Discussion in 'International Politics' started by Patrick Armstrong, Sep 26, 2013.

  1. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Inspired by Alexander Mercouris' analysis of the Libya intervention
    (http://mercouris.wordpress.com/2011/10/30/pirate-raid-on-libya/)

    I have a question to pose to the Group.
    What is the motivation for these things?

    Libya is a good place to start. The question is simply this:

    WHY DID WE DO IT?

    And don't say to control the oil; that was flowing perfectly well and now is not.

    My theory (which I'm not very confident about) is that advocates of the R2P intervention really do believe (and have convinced themselves so) that it Is All For the Better. Also, they are itching to prove their theory and stop the next Rwanda.

    But it's still mystifying.

    Read, for example, this drivel. Note the complete lack of reflection on whether earlier interventions (especially Libya) worked out well or not. He is either too stupid or just doesn't care. Mystifying.

    http://www.canada.com/news/cost weary diplomacy over Syria could high future/8957956/story.html
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  2. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    Did 'We' do it? have we been spun by the Saudis and the Gulf who are turning their financial strength into political strength by a sort of restoration of the Caliphate? Hence peace and quiet in the Kingdom of Morocco. Or perhaps a race for critical mass as the invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan produce the unintended result of a larger voice for Shia Islam?
  3. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    OK, theories that I have heard.
    1. From my barber, an Assyrian Christian from Iraq who lived in Syria on his way out (and rather prefers Assad to the alternatives) -- Gadaffy, seeing what had happened to Mubarak, tried to pull all his money out of Europe (esp France and Italy). So they blew him up.
    2. Out there on many sites. Saudi Arabia and Israel are in some weird alliance to keep Iran down. Assad is an ally of Teheran, USA et al are controlled by Israel and/or SA, so let's bomb the crap out of Assad. (BTW, another piece of the weirdness here, what's with the al-Assad? For years and years in the West he was Assad, as was his dad. Is this just the Western MSM taking dictation like zombies? Again?). In re this: weren't you all rather stunned when Kerry boasted that the US bombing effort would be paid for by Riyadh? (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/art...on-Syria-says-Secretary-State-John-Kerry.html) So the US armed forces are now just a bunch of mercs?
    3. Bunch o'BS that we cannot believe -- R2P, atrocities, 100K killed blah blah. Gotta do something.

    As I say I am mystified. I don't see a gain for "us" here.

    But I do agree that the Saudis have invested very wisely in the USA. Why would W hold hands and kiss (and not the first to do so)? why would BHO bow? WTF is going on?

    It all started with FDR and his meeting with Abdul Aziz.
    Abdul Aziz -- quite a guy, in fact. Would impress anybody (even Mr Macho Putin). Been there, done it. Personally.
    So here we are: the moment when it all began on the USS Quincy. So who's the Alpha male in this picture? (Whose warship are we on anyway? Note that the Filipino steward is not impressed: even in those day they knew what Saudis were really like. As Filipinos do now. Ask one.)
    But it's clear who the Alpha male is.

    [​IMG]

    WLSC, on the other hand, not so dominated.

    [​IMG]

    But he wasn't as naive as FDR.
  4. Alexander Mercouris

    Alexander Mercouris Ship Secretary (11th class)

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    Do you know something Patrick. I too have no idea! Shortly after I wrote my piece on Libya I was challenged by my partner to write another piece to explain why the attack on Libya took place. I wrote a few paragraphs and gave up. I couldn't find a single explanation that made any sort of cogent sense to me.

    I don't buy the fanciful theory you see circulating that Gaddafi was dreaming up some sort of gold based African currency that would challenge the US dollar. Gaddafi's whole career was one of concocting fanciful projects like gold based dinars that never saw the light of day. I am sure that this is what would have happened to this one and I doubt anyone in Washington or London or Paris ever gave it so much as a passing thought. That Gaddafi posed any sort of serious challenge to the US in Africa is beyond farfetched. Certainly in no sense did Africans see him as any sort of leader of Africa. In Arab politics he was an utterly marginalised and isolated figure. Certainly he was no threat to Israel or ally of Iran. He had given up his nuclear weapons programme (another fanciful project that had been going nowhere). Control of Libya's oil is no explanation since he had settled his quarrels with the oil companies, which were investing heavily in Libya and therefore presumably welcomed the stability and security his regime provided. As for his support for terrorism, that doubtless made Gaddafi enduring enemies especially in the US and Britain, but he had long since dropped it, come to terms with the British over Lockerbie and had allied himself with the US in opposition to Al Qaeda and in the "War on Terror" in which his regime played a fully cooperative role in the US's rendition programme.

    However you spin the ball, there is no explanation for the attack on Gaddafi that in terms of realpolitik makes any kind of sense. The only points I would make are

    1. That one factor in explaining the attack on Gaddafi is that because of his isolation and military weakness it was possible and even easy. Some people find it impossible to resist the temptation of doing what they are able to do; and

    2. In terms of the attempts to create a "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine that supposedly allows military intervention in other states to overthrow their governments, Gaddafi's regime provided the perfect victim because he was so isolated and weak. A right to overthrow governments only acquires reality if it is actually exercised. Gaddafi provided the "Responsibility to Protect" supporters in the west the perfect opportunity to exercise it and they seized it with both hands; and

    3. Of course there are some people in the west who see "humanitarian intervention" under the "Responsibility to Protect" doctrine not just as a right but as a moral duty. For such people intervention in Libya's civil war was therefore almost a moral obligation.

    These are the only explanations I can in the end give. Since they belong more in the sphere of compulsive behaviour than in the sort of hard headed thinking that one normally presumes explains the policies of powerful states I am not entirely satisfied with them. However what other explanations are there?
  5. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Here's my 2 kopeks' worth.

    I happened to spend a lot of time watching Al Jazeera during the Egyptian revolution Mark I because my wife was there and I was concerned. I thought AJ did an OK job, partly because they had a presence on Tahrir Sq where a lot of the action was.

    When the Libya thing started AJ was stuck at the Egypt-Libya border; it was dependent on escapers for all reports. So we had people claiming all sorts of horrors which AJ broadcast. Out of this came “he is bombing his own people” and this phrase became universal. This gave rise to the demand for the “no fly zone” so as to stop him doing it.

    So who demanded it? I believe that it was mostly the “we must do something crowd”. A NFZ to lefties, who scorn the military and refuse to learn anything about it, is easy and cheap. They don’t realize that it involves turning on the destruction machine against anything that could threaten allied aircraft. (Do you recall a US general making that point?)

    Anyway, since Kadaffy was not in fact “bombing his own people” but fighting with, it seemed, an endless supply of pickup trucks with a ZU-23/2 bolted to the back end, air domination made no difference and didn’t stop anything. But NATO/the good guys/moral imperialists cannot be seen to lose, so they ramped it up, air ground attacks, FACs to direct the air strikes, trainers to make the opposition into something other than sky shooters, then special forces arrived and one thing led to another. Meanwhile the story that had now been set had the volume turned up because, after all, it took SEVEN MONTHS (!) to overthrow Kadaffy’s crappy little regime and that rather large failure has to be covered up by louder shouting.

    So I really think that the prime mechanism was the R2P types in their ignorance and arrogance abetted by crappy reporting. They really want a case (I agree with AM here – Libya looked like a great case and an easy case.)

    But that may be naïve – AM has shown evidence for a good deal of conscious duplicity. (But I think we can all agree that the Obama regime has an unusually high proportion of liars in it).

    But there is nothing more disastrous than an ignorant do-gooder with an unshakeable conviction of his righteousness.

    Note also going back the Canadian example I gave, the short term memory. He praises intervention in Mali with apparently no understanding that it was a consequence of Libya; he praises the Libya intervention with no apparent awareness of the terrible consequences. Always surfing onto the next wave. And the next one will be a great success.
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  6. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    I am not hugely informed but I haven't seen much logic in anything since Iraq1 with the exception of Afghanistan. My theories, including those already expressed.
    1. Nato job preservation; Hence the suppression of the Western European Union in the early 1990's and the Kosovo affair.
    2. A long term US strategy to isolate and finally invade Iran perhaps with Israeli urging in revenge for the hostage crisis more than 30 years ago.
    3. Israel and the Arab Monarchies have a mutual interest in the removal of secular states and the weakening of Shia to contain Iran and keep Israel's neighbours weak. The Saudis can now see a Sunni sharia zone from Morocco (at any rate a monarchy) to Syria. How coherent is Saudi Arabia?
    4. As Patrick suggests the rise of the politically correct "Right to Protect"! I suppose it's time but if so, I would expect the UN to be intimately involved which was the British Parliamentary position over Syria. Perhaps I don't know US politics.
    What's going on in East Africa? There's been a long term campaign there. Is it a strategic area for someone or just within reach of the Wahabis?

    But actually, Iran is winning. Failures to create civic societies in Iraw and Afghanistan mean the restoration of the Persian Empire is taking place. I know from enquiries that I am receiving that there is a big effort under way to revive trade between Iran and Russia.

    There has been a serious disconnect between the UK Government+security agencies, Parliament and the voting public.
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  7. Patrick Armstrong

    Patrick Armstrong Commissar

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    Nato job preservation;

    Certainly a factor -- there was a time when people at NATO were seriously thinking that the organisation might cease to exist. But NATO Expansion was invented and then Kosovo (one of the first moralistic wars complete with invented atrocities, the air campaign and followed by completely ignoring who we had put into power and what they were doing).
  8. MarkPavelovich

    MarkPavelovich Commissar

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    In "The Redirection", Seymour Hersh provided us with plenty of motive.

    http://www.newyorker.com/reporting/2007/03/05/070305fa_fact_hersh

    General Wesley Clark was kind enough to provide corroboration with his discussion of an actual U.S. government internal memorandum which announced the intention to knock over 7 countries in 5 years. Two are already done - Iraq and Libya - while a third (Somalia) is arguably such a ruin already that intervention is unnecessary to tip it over. Syria and Lebanon are both on the hit list, and the final goal - as most surmise - is Iran.

    http://www.salon.com/2007/10/12/wesley_clark/

    Clearly, R2P has nothing to do with it. Straight from the oily lips of the incredibly oily Paul Wolfowitz (I saw part of "Fahrenheit 9-11", and one scene showed Paul Wolfowitz just prior to a photo-op actually licking his comb just before running it through his hair. Do you know how disgustingly dirty that is? As you can tell, I've never gotten over it), we have "But we did learn one thing that’s very important. With the end of the Cold War, we can now use our military with impunity. The Soviets won’t come in to block us. And we’ve got five, maybe 10, years to clean up these old Soviet surrogate regimes like Iraq and Syria before the next superpower emerges to challenge us … We could have a little more time, but no one really knows."

    All that twaddle about rescuing a desperate people from crushing oppression is just crap for the masses, a shot of feelgood for their part in supporting it with their crowd noise. It has been the plan since maybe even the late 90's to knock over these countries and change their governments, and since time is short while the USA can rely on keeping its huge military running with a defense budget that obliterates all other combined, they cannot spend too much time on managing the outcome. They will have to settle for knocking them over and hope a pro-western leader emerges to take the place of the one deposed or murdered. You can see how much they actually cared for the poor oppressed people of Libya: NATO waltzed in with a no-fly zone which quickly escalated to them actually acting as the de facto rebel air force - incredibly, taking target coordinates direct from the rebels - knocked over Gaddafi just as he was about to triumph over the flip-flops, declared victory and got out. The rebels marked NATO's pullout with the celebratory flying of the al Qaeda banner from the roof of the Benghazi courthouse.

    http://www.telegraph.co.uk/news/wor...eda-flag-flown-above-Benghazi-courthouse.html

    Some - most of them in journalism - would like to pretend the west is being gamed, so that it can later pretend to have been duped by evil and unscrupulous elements in the new governments it installs. Don't you believe it, because it's rubbish. It is a deliberate plan to reorder the Middle East and Africa to the west's advantage, and if it is not working out that way it is likely because of time constraints.
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  9. Philip Owen

    Philip Owen Office Registrar (13th class)

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    When I first heard the term Arab Spring, I suggested Soviet Twilight as an alternative. I believe this strategy of Rumsfeld but now?
  10. Robert

    Robert Collegiate Registrar (14th class)

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    I wrote this poem back in 2003 during the Iraq war

    The Patriotic Neocon

    Time was the Con was satisfied
    Constructing cages for the breeze
    Nor did he care
    How foul the air
    Con man still got his K Street fees

    But obstinate senility
    The subtle lie the pious fraud
    Has put us all
    Against the wall
    And so the Con's become a chickenhawk Lord

    Throughout the land his wrath is turned
    On anti war apostasy
    "Appeasment left
    Isolationist right
    Both betray "democracy""

    "You've heard about those camps. That's why
    We're fighting". "Was it not WMD before?"
    "WMD they be
    Melted into thin air you see
    How else can we now sell this war?"

    Con man marches on the Arab League
    With several hundred abstract nouns
    Dressed to kill
    With a keyboard still
    The corpy Suits not yet dressed down

    Sometimes the light does reach his eyes
    But he's determined not to see
    I can't be right
    To turn and bite
    The Halliburton hand that gelded me

    That was back in the days of Bush and Cheney. The neocons did have a coherent strategy even though it was criminal and turned out to be disastrous. Obama's foreign policy by contrast makes no sense at all.

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