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Wonderment
03-23-2011, 01:36 AM
After a few days of thinking about, reading about and discussing the UN resolution to use force in Libya, I've come to think what's most important about the intervention is the extent to which it's a key historical test for the UN doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.

R2P (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_to_protect) has evolved quickly in the 21st century, probably as a result of long hard thinking about the genocides and human rights atrocities of the 20th century. Samantha Power, now a key advisor to Obama, literally wrote the book on genocide, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, " which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Obama hired her after he read her book, which is consistent with liberal interventionism in general.

The Prize that many humanitarian interventionist activists are keeping their eye on is to enshrine the principle of R2P in international law so that every time there is a crisis, the international community will have a firm consensus and make a rapid military response.

In principle R2P would apply to Darfur, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe or Gaza.

Libya is a big test case. If this intervention fails it will be a major setback for the UN, Obama and the humanitarian intervention community internationally. If it succeeds, it will establish a strong precedent for future interventions.

I'm interested in opinions on this aspect of the conflict. Should there be interventions at all? If so, what's the threshold? Can there be a case-by-case application or do we need clearer and purer general rules? Did the Security Council do the right thing? Can interventions ever be decoupled from parochial national interests? Is it ever okay to kill civilians to save civilians? The UN says we cannot just sit back and do nothing under the assumption that military action is part of the "something" we must do.

What are your thoughts?

chiwhisoxx
03-23-2011, 02:19 AM
After a few days of thinking about, reading about and discussing the UN resolution to use force in Libya, I've come to think what's most important about the intervention is the extent to which it's a key historical test for the UN doctrine of Responsibility to Protect.

R2P (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Responsibility_to_protect) has evolved quickly in the 21st century, probably as a result of long hard thinking about the genocides and human rights atrocities of the 20th century. Samantha Power, now a key advisor to Obama, literally wrote the book on genocide, "A Problem from Hell: America and the Age of Genocide, " which won the Pulitzer Prize.

Obama hired her after he read her book, which is consistent with liberal interventionism in general.

The Prize that many humanitarian interventionist activists are keeping their eye on is to enshrine the principle of R2P in international law so that every time there is a crisis, the international community will have a firm consensus and make a rapid military response.

In principle R2P would apply to Darfur, Sri Lanka, Zimbabwe or Gaza.

Libya is a big test case. If this intervention fails it will be a major setback for the UN, Obama and the humanitarian intervention community internationally. If it succeeds, it will establish a strong precedent for future interventions.

I'm interested in opinions on this aspect of the conflict. Should there be interventions at all? If so, what's the threshold? Can there be a case-by-case application or do we need clearer and purer general rules? Did the Security Council do the right thing? Can interventions ever be decoupled from parochial national interests? Is it ever okay to kill civilians to save civilians? The UN says we cannot just sit back and do nothing under the assumption that military action is part of the "something" we must do.

What are your thoughts?

Are you kidding about including Gaza on that list?

Not4Navigation
03-23-2011, 08:34 AM
Success would be defined how?

Wonderment
03-23-2011, 02:52 PM
Are you kidding about including Gaza on that list?

No.

Wonderment
03-23-2011, 02:56 PM
Success would be defined how?

Presumably by some calculus of civilian lives saved and kept safe under a chastened old regime or a more enlightened new regime.

bjkeefe
03-23-2011, 03:01 PM
Are you kidding about including Gaza on that list? No.

OMG FRANK GAFFNEY (http://bjkeefe.blogspot.com/2011/03/frank-gaffney-outdoes-himself.html) WAZ RITE.

Move over, Hamsher-Norquist!

bjkeefe
03-23-2011, 05:00 PM
Occasional B'head Charli Carpenter (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/03/true-but-irrelevant) has a post on this topic, and there is a lengthy discussion in the comments.

Ocean
03-23-2011, 06:57 PM
Occasional B'head Charli Carpenter (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/03/true-but-irrelevant) has a post on this topic, and there is a lengthy discussion in the comments.

Thank you for the link. This is a very important topic. I wish that BhTV brings experts (Charli would be a great choice as an interviewer or expert) to discuss the topic soon.

Here's an excerpt from her post.

So just a reminder that the doctrine, as laid out by the International Commission on Intervention and State Sovereignty and acknowledged as a legal principle in several multilateral documents, actually promotes military force for civilian protection not in every case where it might be merited, but rather only in limited circumstances mapping roughly onto just war theory.

The criteria include just cause (which I agree would be fulfilled in a case like North Korea or Bahrain) but also right authority (which in R2P requires multilateral consent – not feasible in Bahrain) and proportionality (requiring a judgment that the overall good to civilians outweigh the potential harm – unlikely in North Korea). In cases not meeting this threshold, the doctrine urges merely non-coercive protection measures, including humanitarian assistance and diplomacy.

Florian
03-24-2011, 07:13 AM
I'm interested in opinions on this aspect of the conflict. Should there be interventions at all? If so, what's the threshold? Can there be a case-by-case application or do we need clearer and purer general rules? Did the Security Council do the right thing? Can interventions ever be decoupled from parochial national interests? Is it ever okay to kill civilians to save civilians? The UN says we cannot just sit back and do nothing under the assumption that military action is part of the "something" we must do.

What are your thoughts?

IMO, R2P inevitably shades off into what is called in French "le devoir d'ingérence, the duty to interfere (meddle?). After reading how Bernard Henri Lévi, meddler extraordinaire, persuaded Sarkozy to involve France in this mess and jump the gun on Obama, it is pretty obvious that R2P was never more than a pretext. The instigators were Libyan rebels, invited by BHL to speak directly with Sarkozy....

But aren't liberal interventionists fooling themselves when they try to separate humanitarian protection from interference in the internal affairs of another country? Doesn't protecting the civilian population against an oppressive government mean taking sides against the government and for the rebels?

Not4Navigation
03-24-2011, 08:27 AM
Presumably by some calculus of civilian lives saved and kept safe under a chastened old regime or a more enlightened new regime.

Ok sure. Do you not find it disturbing that there was really no plan going in, no plan as it goes on, and no plan on how to get out. Shouldn't your calculus include some specific objectives that can define this chastenment and/or enlightenment? Sounds a bit like throwing "hope" against the wall to see what sticks.

stephanie
03-24-2011, 11:19 AM
But aren't liberal interventionists fooling themselves when they try to separate humanitarian protection from interference in the internal affairs of another country? Doesn't protecting the civilian population against an oppressive government mean taking sides against the government and for the rebels?

I think so. Or what seems to me the same point, protecting the civilian population under certain circumstances seems to be presented as an exception in which interfering is justified.

stephanie
03-24-2011, 11:25 AM
Ok sure. Do you not find it disturbing that there was really no plan going in, no plan as it goes on, and no plan on how to get out.

This seems to me to be encompassed by the factors Wonderment mentioned -- lives presumably saved as a result of the intervention. The problem with a lack of plan is that it seems to increase the likelihood that the intervention won't work properly, that the lives saved with be at the cost of more lost (due to an increase in hostilities, longer-lasting hostilities, instability in whatever follows, a failure to achieve either the chastened regime or more enlightened new regime referenced).

It's also pretty obvious that Wonderment is not arguing in favor of the intervention in Libya, but asking a general question about R2P.

graz
03-24-2011, 11:54 AM
This seems to me to be encompassed by the factors Wonderment mentioned -- lives presumably saved as a result of the intervention. The problem with a lack of plan is that it seems to increase the likelihood that the intervention won't work properly, that the lives saved with be at the cost of more lost (due to an increase in hostilities, longer-lasting hostilities, instability in whatever follows, a failure to achieve either the chastened regime or more enlightened new regime referenced).

It's also pretty obvious that Wonderment is not arguing in favor of the intervention in Libya, but asking a general question about R2P.

It's, (comma) also, (comma) pretty obvious that notfur is just champing --why not chomping-- at the bit for reason to disparage the "hope" aspect of the action ... well ... because it's his only play. Would he not deny the chastenment regardless of the results. No answer required.

stephanie
03-24-2011, 12:31 PM
It's, (comma) also, (comma) pretty obvious that notfur is just champing --why not chomping-- at the bit for reason to disparage the "hope" aspect of the action ... well ... because it's his only play. Would he not deny the chastenment regardless of the results. No answer required.

Oh, right, I forgot N4N was 'fur.

I did note, and almost said, that it was indeed pretty obvious that the disconnect between Wonderment's post (and oft-stated views) and the response demonstrated a transparent desire to twist any topic into an excuse for stating the planned rightwing talking points of the day, with an obvious lack of self-awareness with respect to what he no doubt thinks he's defending by contrast (i.e., Iraq). But I kind of figured that went without saying. (However, now that you mention it, no harm in saying it anyway.)

Wonderment
03-24-2011, 04:18 PM
Do you not find it disturbing that there was really no plan going in, no plan as it goes on, and no plan on how to get out. Shouldn't your calculus include some specific objectives that can define this chastenment and/or enlightenment? Sounds a bit like throwing "hope" against the wall to see what sticks.

Well, I'm more interested in the general question of R2P than the specifics of Libya or even the politics of it.

Planning is, of course, a key component for success of a mission, but that's to some extent a separate calculation. The first question to ask is "Do we have an R2P?" and "If so, what conditions trigger it?" and finally "It's there, it's triggered, how do we implement it?"

I'm inclined to agree that the UN (for lack of a better international institution and for lack of a better mechanism than the woefully inadequate SC) does have an R2P. I also agree that human rights atrocities like Libya's should trigger R2P. I disagree on the military response, however. I believe there are many ways to help short of a military intervention.

That's not to say that I would never support a perfect rescue operation with minimal casualties. I certainly support "violence" by police who have to rescue hostages, for example. I would not oppose killing a few prison guards to liberate a Nazi death camp.

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 11:46 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it, I think the whole justification for the use of force in this instance is a farce. It's not that Gadhafi isn't guilty of the crimes he's accused of; it's not that the intervention isn't justified in terms of international humanitarian law -- to the extent that such a thing exists -- but the plain fact of the matter is that the prosecutors of this intervention have chosen sides in a civil war.

The situation in Libya is very different from the "people power"-type uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, where an unarmed civil population rose up against oppressive rulers. If Mubarak or Ben Ali had ordered the machine-gunning of the protesters (and maybe they did) and such massacres had been carried out, the U.N. or whomever would have been justified in intervening under the doctrine of "right to protect." They were not. Fortunately, their military leaders were sufficiently humane -- or maybe they just switched to the winning horse -- not to quell the protests by brute force. The protesters won.

In Libya, you have an armed uprising against a dictator. I happen to think that uprising is justified and I hope the rebels succeed. But it isn't at all clear that Gadhafi's move against the rebels is aimed at "civilians," or indeed that the civilians support the rebels. I suspect the majority may, but there's no way to know. Hence, the "international community" has invented a pretext to justify a political decision to attack Gadhafi, the hope being, apparently, that he will be toppled by the rebels or by his own coterie, before the fighting exacts too high a cost in terms of casualties.

This may or may not happen, but it ain't any more (or less) moral than the Iraq war. Indeed, Saddam's human rights violations alone were, in my view, far more egregious than Moamar's -- You can take issue with that if you like -- and yet THAT war was roundly condemned as "illegal" by that same "international community." And why? Because the French approved the latest intervention and opposed the earlier one.

God only knows why the French, love them though we may, have been made the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a Just War.

Ridiculous.

AemJeff
03-25-2011, 11:56 AM
Not to put too fine a point on it, I think the whole justification for the use of force in this instance is a farce. It's not that Gadhafi isn't guilty of the crimes he's accused of; it's not that the intervention isn't justified in terms of international humanitarian law -- to the extent that such a thing exists -- but the plain fact of the matter is that the prosecutors of this intervention have chosen sides in a civil war.

The situation in Libya is very different from the "people power"-type uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, where an unarmed civil population rose up against oppressive rulers. If Mubarak or Ben Ali had ordered the machine-gunning of the protesters (and maybe they did) and such massacres had been carried out, the U.N. or whomever would have been justified in intervening under the doctrine of "right to protect." They did not. Fortunately, their military leaders were sufficiently humane -- or maybe they just switched to the winning horse -- not to quell the protests by brute force. The protesters won.

In Libya, you have an armed uprising against a dictator. I happen to think that uprising is justified and I hope the rebels succeed. But it isn't at all clear that Gadhafi's move against the rebels is aimed at "civilians," or indeed that the civilians support the rebels. I suspect the majority may, but there's no way to know. Hence, the "international community" has invented a pretext to justify a political decision to attack Gadhafi, the hope being, apparently, that he will be toppled by the rebels or by his own coterie, before the fighting exacts too high a cost in terms of casualties.

This may or may not happen, but it ain't any more (or less) moral than the Iraq war. Indeed, Saddam's human rights violations alone were, in my view, far more egregious than Moamar's -- You can take issue with that if you like -- and yet THAT war was roundly condemned as "illegal" by that same "international community." And why? Because the French approved the latest intervention and opposed the earlier one.

God only knows why the French, love them though we may, have been made the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a Just War.

Ridiculous.

I have to admit that I don't follow your argument here. My sense of what happened in Libya is that peaceful protests were met by brutality and military force. The "armed uprising" to which you refer occurred in response to the Libyan government chose to begin systematically slaughtering the citizens of of that nation. What moral ambiguity exists such that we should have any difficulty in choosing sides under those circumstances?

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 12:04 PM
I did note, and almost said, that it was indeed pretty obvious that the disconnect between Wonderment's post (and oft-stated views) and the response demonstrated a transparent desire to twist any topic into an excuse for stating the planned rightwing talking points of the day, with an obvious lack of self-awareness with respect to what he no doubt thinks he's defending by contrast (i.e., Iraq).

There are no right wing talking points of the day. In fact the right wing is all over the place on this issue as is the left.

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 12:07 PM
I have to admit that I don't follow your argument here. My sense of what happened in Libya is that peaceful protests were met by brutality and military force. The "armed uprising" to which you refer occurred in response to the Libyan government chose to begin systematically slaughtering the citizens of of that nation. What moral ambiguity exists such that we should have any difficulty in choosing sides under those circumstances?

Speaking strictly for myself, I don't have any problem with supporting the rebels. What I have a problem with is the pretense that the current intervention is "legal," whereas the earlier one was "illegal." The players in both instances supported or opposed those interventions for purely political reasons. The rest is sophistry, in my view.

Gadhafi may indeed have "systematically" eliminated his civilian opponents. I don't know. He is undoubtedly a brutal dictator who can and should be ousted. What I don't get is why sauce for the Ghadhafian goose is apparently not sauce for the Husseinian gander.

Is it because Obama is a good team player and Bush was not? Man, I hope not.

AemJeff
03-25-2011, 12:20 PM
Speaking strictly for myself, I don't have any problem with supporting the rebels. What I have a problem with is the pretense that the current intervention is "legal," whereas the earlier one was "illegal." The players in both instances supported or opposed those interventions for purely political reasons. The rest is sophistry, in my view.

Gadhafi may indeed have "systematically" eliminated his civilian opponents. I don't know. He is undoubtedly a brutal dictator who can and should be ousted. What I don't get is why sauce for the Ghadhafian goose is apparently not sauce for the Husseinian gander.

Is it because Obama is a good team player and Bush was not? Man, I hope not.

The comparisons between Obama and Bush seem a lot less significant than those between Obama and Clinton. Obama hasn't committed ground troops or authorized an invasion, and has obviously done quite a bit to try to limit the U.S role in this conflict. Saddam may or may not be comparable to Gadaffi (I wish we would pick a spelling for that damned name) - but the choices Obama has made in this regard stand in sharp contrast to thos made by Bush.

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 12:37 PM
The comparisons between Obama and Bush seem a lot less significant than those between Obama and Clinton. Obama hasn't committed ground troops or authorized an invasion, and has obviously done quite a bit to try to limit the U.S role in this conflict. Saddam may or may not be comparable to Gadaffi (I wish we would pick a spelling for that damned name) - but the choices Obama has made in this regard stand in sharp contrast to thos made by Bush.

So the "illegality" of the Iraq war arose not because it involved the use of force (And let's be clear: dropping bombs from planes and firing cruise missiles kills people in greater numbers than putting marines on the ground armed with M-16s), but the way in which that force was exercised, and because it didn't have the blessing of the Arab league and/or France.

I find the whole thing baffling -- unless we are willing to acknowledge that war, as an instrument of affecting desired changes in the international arena is fundamentally a political tool. The question of whether a war is justified is, or should be, dealt with separately from that of "legality."

If we fight this war with one hand tied behind our back (i.e. "no regime change"), as we did for a long time in Yugoslavia, many, many more innocents will die. Where is the morality (or legality) in that?

AemJeff
03-25-2011, 12:53 PM
So the "illegality" of the Iraq war arose not because it involved the use of force (And let's be clear: dropping bombs from planes and firing cruise missiles kills people in greater numbers than putting marines on the ground armed with M-16s), but the way in which that force was exercised, and because it didn't have the blessing of the Arab league and/or France.

I find the whole thing baffling -- unless we are willing to acknowledge that war, as an instrument of affecting desired changes in the international arena is fundamentally a political tool. The question of whether a war is justified is, or should be, dealt with separately from that of "legality."

If we fight this war with one hand tied behind our back (i.e. "no regime change"), as we did for a long time in Yugoslavia, many, many more innocents will die. Where is the morality (or legality) in that?

That's more than what I said. There's a lot of language to be parsed here, such as the definition of "war." R2P emphasizes a unique set of issues, and is a different justification for action than a claim regarding hidden WMD. I oppose Bush's actions because it's evident that their public claims were of things they either knew to be untrue or for which they claimed much more convincing evidence than they could possibly have had. There's no analogy at all that I can see here.

chiwhisoxx
03-25-2011, 01:49 PM
I have to admit that I don't follow your argument here. My sense of what happened in Libya is that peaceful protests were met by brutality and military force. The "armed uprising" to which you refer occurred in response to the Libyan government chose to begin systematically slaughtering the citizens of of that nation. What moral ambiguity exists such that we should have any difficulty in choosing sides under those circumstances?

The moral ambiguity comes from things like this.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-prisoners-20110324,0,5238438.story

stephanie
03-25-2011, 01:56 PM
There are no right wing talking points of the day.

Sure there are. They just aren't shared by all on the right.

But if your point is that people on the right have a variety of views on this and not all are as narrowly partisan as Whatfur's, I certainly agree.

Given that my original complaint about Whatfur's "contribution" was that it was an attempted diversion from Wonderment's interesting thread topic, I won't go on about this more.

stephanie
03-25-2011, 02:07 PM
Speaking strictly for myself, I don't have any problem with supporting the rebels. What I have a problem with is the pretense that the current intervention is "legal," whereas the earlier one was "illegal."

I think trying to use this to make any objections to Iraq somehow hypocritical is a losing battle and really ignores the issues. Very few of those who objected to Iraq were against all intervention -- Obama certainly wasn't. Unfortunately, one of the effects of the partisan nature of these discussions is that there's not a reasonable discussion of when interventions are and are not justified.

I'm not sure R2P should be exercised here either, for a number of the reasons that have been brought up. But that the side we are protecting includes not just unarmed civilian protestors, but others who are willing to use arms against the government (and elements of an underlying civil war) seems to me to complicate matters, but not exclude the R2P analysis. Jeff's comparison with Bosnia and Kosovo vs. Iraq seems to me to be correct. There was no on-going effort to protect legitimate anti-government protestors or rebel groups or any of that when we went into Iraq. The massacres by Saddam that were cited as a basis (after the fact, of course) for the invasion by some (and a "it doesn't matter what our reasons were, it was worth doing anyway" by others), were all in the past. The invasion was never to stop violence, but simply to get rid of a ruler we'd decided was a bad man (due to the alleged threat of WMD, although many now seem to think that the only question is whether he was a really really bad man independent of WMD).

Now, perhaps you think that's a justification for war, but it is a distinguishable one, and one that people could disagree with yet still think Libya is a more difficult question.

Wonderment
03-25-2011, 02:18 PM
This may or may not happen, but it ain't any more (or less) moral than the Iraq war. Indeed, Saddam's human rights violations alone were, in my view, far more egregious than Moamar's -- You can take issue with that if you like -- and yet THAT war was roundly condemned as "illegal" by that same "international community." And why? Because the French approved the latest intervention and opposed the earlier one.

The difference is that there was in international consensus that Kadafi presented an IMMINENT THREAT to the lives of large numbers of civilians. If the SC is to be believed, he was likely to massacre thousands in Bengazi, force untold thousands more into exile, create vast humanitarian crises for neighboring countries, etc.

The narrow scope of the UN Resolution is to protect those civilians and prevent the humanitarian chaos.

I'm not sure I buy it either, but it's not the same as Bush preemptively taking out Saddam, occupying the country, building a new state and planting military bases in perpetuity, all on the false pretext of WMDs and the fact that Saddam had murdered in the past. It would not even have been the same if it turned out that Saddam DID have a WMD program.

Libya is allegedly an international emergency, a building on fire with children inside, so to speak. That was not the case in Iraq.

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 02:23 PM
Sure there are. They just aren't shared by all on the right.

But if your point is that people on the right have a variety of views on this and not all are as narrowly partisan as Whatfur's, I certainly agree.

Given that my original complaint about Whatfur's "contribution" was that it was an attempted diversion from Wonderment's interesting thread topic, I won't go on about this more.

Another diversion on my part, to be sure, but what makes those views partisan? Are there not people on the left who are saying the same thing? (http://www.democratunity.com/index.php?option=com_content&view=article&id=2571%3Ano-fly-a-tactic-in-search-of-a-strategy-&catid=1%3Alatest-news&Itemid=97)

But a no-fly zone? In the case of Libya, that's a tactic in search of a strategy. The Yiddish word for it is "shmei," roughly translated as aimless strolling around. A no-fly zone is basically just looking like you're doing something to remove Gaddafi, at the cost of $60 million in a day (which was the cost of the first day's worth of cruise missiles launched).

The last time we tried this, in Iraq, we had to sustain it for 12 years. At enormous effort and expense. And it didn't bring down Saddam at all.

More fundamentally, a no-fly zone in Libya feeds the dangerous fantasy that every problem has a military solution. That the answer to the use of force is the use of more force. That if a hammer doesn't drive that nail in, try a howitzer.

AemJeff
03-25-2011, 02:34 PM
The moral ambiguity comes from things like this.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-prisoners-20110324,0,5238438.story

That's a bad thing. And it's good reason to keep us out of the ground war. The direct attacks by Libyan forces, specifically air attacks, on the civilian population still seems like a clear moral justification for the no-fly zone to me. (Though, as I've said, I'm at best ambivalent about whether I think it will ultimately prove to have been a good idea.)

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 02:40 PM
Libya is a big test case. If this intervention fails it will be a major setback for the UN, Obama and the humanitarian intervention community internationally. If it succeeds, it will establish a strong precedent for future interventions.

What are your thoughts?

My not very well thought out fear is that the UN will become the world policeman. And that their good intentions could very easily become politicized.

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 02:43 PM
The difference is that there was in international consensus that Kadafi presented an IMMINENT THREAT to the lives of large numbers of civilians. If the SC is to be believed, he was likely to massacre thousands in Bengazi, force untold thousands more into exile, create vast humanitarian crises for neighboring countries, etc.



So the standard will be imminent threat?

stephanie
03-25-2011, 03:05 PM
Another diversion on my part, to be sure, but what makes those views partisan?

I can't imagine this is other than obvious, but I'll answer. In this case, they were partisan-talking points because they were a transparent effort to take a discussion about an issue on which people (on the left and right) are likely to have a variety of nuanced opinions and to place them into a boring and intellectually unserious framework of "Obama bad, Bush good." That the comments had basically nothing to do with the post to which they were a supposed "response" and were rather hilariously un-self-aware with regard to the foreign policy positions taken by the poster in the past was also a pretty clear tipoff. Also, they were part of a pattern of numerous posts, including under the new name.

At this point, I don't expect more (or any actual policy discussion at all) from Whatfur. However, if you have some thoughts on R2P, I'm sure I'd be interested, including if they are similar to those in the quote you posted. I cannot tell from what you've posted so far.

Florian
03-25-2011, 03:06 PM
This may or may not happen, but it ain't any more (or less) moral than the Iraq war. Indeed, Saddam's human rights violations alone were, in my view, far more egregious than Moamar's -- You can take issue with that if you like -- and yet THAT war was roundly condemned as "illegal" by that same "international community." And why? Because the French approved the latest intervention and opposed the earlier one.

God only knows why the French, love them though we may, have been made the ultimate arbiter of what constitutes a Just War.

Ridiculous.

The only thing ridiculous here is your ridiculous conclusion. I think we are probably on the same page with regard to the ambiguity of the Libya situation. But I must demur from your final remark. France had good reasons to oppose the invasion of Iraq, and in historical retrospect they seem almost prescient. The flimsy justifications for the war presented by the Bush administration were accepted by very few Europeans, and certainly not by the sceptical French. One didn't have to be an anti-American diplomat at the Quai d'Orsay, or even a Chirac (who despised both Bush and Blair) to think that the US was bent on waging war with Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with humanitarianism or "just war." The US was seeking revenge for 9/11. It also had a deeply ignorant president who paid far too much attention to advisors (the neocons) who had been beating the drums of war for years.

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 03:26 PM
At this point, I don't expect more (or any actual policy discussion at all) from Whatfur. However, if you have some thoughts on R2P, I'm sure I'd be interested, including if they are similar to those in the quote you posted. I cannot tell from what you've posted so far.

I am skeptical of the UN. Keep in mind that that Gaddafi was recently on the Human Rights Council of the UN. They need to shape a great deal.

stephanie
03-25-2011, 05:22 PM
I am skeptical of the UN.

I think everyone is, although probably the significance of that will vary from person to person.

However, I see the question about R2P to be a broader one. (1) Basically, is it a justification for the use of military force? (I consider this a subset of the just war argument.) (2) If so, is it necessary that we act through international bodies, and thus the US (or France or the UK or any other country) should not intervene (and does not have a R2P) if it tries but the international community is not on board. (3) How do we define international bodies in this context? UN, coalition, coalition of states with an interest in the region, "coalition of the willing," groups like NATO, what?

Also, as a subset of question (1), are there standards that can help determine whether and when we intervene/have a responsibility other than the simple case by case based, and if so what are they?

I think the answer to (1) is yes. I think the answer to (2) is that it's at least preferable and we should work toward a situation in which we are more able to say that it's necessary (i.e., international institutions we are able to be less skeptical of, perhaps because of past successes in dealing with such situations). I'm interested in what people think about my subset of (1) (I suppose I should call it (4)), since I'm still thinking it through.

Wonderment
03-25-2011, 06:00 PM
My not very well thought out fear is that the UN will become the world policeman. And that their good intentions could very easily become politicized.

Those are clearly problems. The idea is, however, that the UN would be less politicized than nations acting unilaterally or in tandem. Obviously, there are still groups of nations like NATO and the Arab League who are getting involved on the nation+ level, but the hope is that the international community can be more objective than individual nations. The big problem you run up against, however, is the current functioning of the Sec Council where permanent members like Russia, China or the USA can and do veto resolutions.

Note, I am opposed to the Libyan intervention. Just trying to be clear about the logic of it though.

Wonderment
03-25-2011, 06:20 PM
(1), are there standards that can help determine whether and when we intervene/have a responsibility other than the simple case by case based, and if so what are they?

One big problem is that most interventions, at least the way the liberal interventionists want to set up a trigger mechanism, are predicated on hypotheticals. For example, Kadaffi is considered more likely to commit mass murder than Mubarak. Evidence: Kadaffi apparently killed many people on his way to Bengazi, threatened the citizens, and called them "rats."

These troubling behaviors that suggest a POTENTIAL for mass murder are acting as triggers for intervention. So the intervention might be seen as analogous to preventive detention in normal law enforcement. You might think of it in terms of an injunction against Kaddafi (no fly zone), a restraining order, a pursuit on issuance of an arrest warrant for a violent crime, patrols and other provisions of safety for the population after a "riot."

That's why I'm not sure that humanitarian interventions should be viewed as a subset of just wars. The police work framework is better.

The problem, however, is that Kadaffi claims to BE the law, not to obey the law.

The very existence of dictators or authoritarian governments that don't respect human rights is the problem, and that is where the problem must be solved, before, not after the crisis.

If democracy comes by peaceful means and is sustained by strong civic institutions, we won't have a future of genocides and humanitarian crises. If, on the other hand, the regimes can't modernize and democratize, they will all eventually fail and leave Kadaffi-type messes.

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 06:34 PM
I think everyone is, although probably the significance of that will vary from person to person.

However, I see the question about R2P to be a broader one. (1) Basically, is it a justification for the use of military force? (I consider this a subset of the just war argument.) (2) If so, is it necessary that we act through international bodies, and thus the US (or France or the UK or any other country) should not intervene (and does not have a R2P) if it tries but the international community is not on board. (3) How do we define international bodies in this context? UN, coalition, coalition of states with an interest in the region, "coalition of the willing," groups like NATO, what?

Also, as a subset of question (1), are there standards that can help determine whether and when we intervene/have a responsibility other than the simple case by case based, and if so what are they?

I think the answer to (1) is yes. I think the answer to (2) is that it's at least preferable and we should work toward a situation in which we are more able to say that it's necessary (i.e., international institutions we are able to be less skeptical of, perhaps because of past successes in dealing with such situations). I'm interested in what people think about my subset of (1) (I suppose I should call it (4)), since I'm still thinking it through.

I got a little lost in your subsets but I will say the thing I am most happy about in this situation is that the US will not be blamed. There are many people on the right who don't like foreign entanglements and I suppose I am one of them. One of the problems with coalitions is that the US doesn't really like not being in charge and since we are the most equiped (at least in the west), we are the most likely to be in charge, at some level, until some world army can be formed. I really don't know much about NATO. Does it have it's own armaments or does it borrow stuff from its members?

Also, being in charge has given the US a lot of power which it won't be so willing to give up. But as you say, if this thing is successful it may give a template for the future.

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 07:53 PM
I think trying to use this to make any objections to Iraq somehow hypocritical is a losing battle and really ignores the issues. Very few of those who objected to Iraq were against all intervention -- Obama certainly wasn't. Unfortunately, one of the effects of the partisan nature of these discussions is that there's not a reasonable discussion of when interventions are and are not justified.

I'm not sure R2P should be exercised here either, for a number of the reasons that have been brought up. But that the side we are protecting includes not just unarmed civilian protestors, but others who are willing to use arms against the government (and elements of an underlying civil war) seems to me to complicate matters, but not exclude the R2P analysis. Jeff's comparison with Bosnia and Kosovo vs. Iraq seems to me to be correct. There was no on-going effort to protect legitimate anti-government protestors or rebel groups or any of that when we went into Iraq. The massacres by Saddam that were cited as a basis (after the fact, of course) for the invasion by some (and a "it doesn't matter what our reasons were, it was worth doing anyway" by others), were all in the past. The invasion was never to stop violence, but simply to get rid of a ruler we'd decided was a bad man (due to the alleged threat of WMD, although many now seem to think that the only question is whether he was a really really bad man independent of WMD).

The part I have bolded above is incorrect. What about the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south of the country? There were, in fact, not one but two no-fly zones in Iraq enforced throughout the Clinton years. And the U.S. and Britain dropped bombs on Saddam in a desultory fashion from time to time to remind him of that fact.

It is certainly true that the Bush administration was wrong about the presence of WMD in Iraq. To his more vociferous critics, Bush "lied," though I've never understood why those critics think the Bushies went through the elaborate charade of searching high and low for these phantom weapons, and repeatedly stating before, during and after the war, that they would be found, all the while knowing they did not, in fact, exist. Why would they not have tried to plant such weapons on him? It seems like some convincing stash could have been placed easily enough in some far-flung corner of Iraq for later "discovery," yet it was never done. So Bush was "lying," but too stupid to remember that he had to back up the lie with actual false proof of the lie.

Nobody is that dumb. Even if Bush is as stupid as his enemies say, surely somebody in his administration would have been smart enough to point out that little oversight.

Be that as it may, I will readily concede that Bush erred badly in putting all his eggs in the WMD basket. That does not alter in my mind the basic fact that Saddam's previous and ongoing depredations against his own people at the time the battle was finally joined were far, far more serious than anything Gadhafi has managed so far.

Again, I don't see why that war should be consigned to the annals of U.S. "aggression," while the Libya action is lauded as a triumph of international law. But maybe it's my own fault...

stephanie
03-25-2011, 08:05 PM
I got a little lost in your subsets but I will say the thing I am most happy about in this situation is that the US will not be blamed.

This answer makes me wonder if perhaps why you got lost is that you are thinking of the discussion about Libya in particular, whereas I think this thread is for a more general discussion of the R2P concept.

There are many people on the right who don't like foreign entanglements and I suppose I am one of them.

I'm not really interested in trying to categorize views on these kinds of issues as right or left (I was objecting to Whatfur's comment, because it seemed to me to demonstrate a lack of interest in the topic beyond how it might affect partisan politics). But ultimately that is because I don't think there's any reason (or historical evidence) that those on the left or right have distinctive views -- views cross the parties and people in both are split on the various issues -- which is, I suppose, a way of saying that I don't have any particular reason to doubt that some on the right are against "foreign entanglements" (that was certainly true post WW2 and among some subsections since). I'm just not sure why it's important for you to bring right/left into your statement of your own views.

That said, I'm wondering what not liking "foreign entanglements" entails for you. Presumably not pacifism or we'd know if, since there have been a number of discussions on that. (And note that I'm aware that pacifism is not isolationism anyway.)

I'd guess not isolationism, but I suppose I don't really know that, so I'm asking. If what you mean is simply skepticism about the merits of any use of force, I'm certainly on board with that (even if we end up with different conclusions). But the question is what overcomes that skepticism, if anything -- attacks on the US, I'd imagine. On allies? Anything other than that? Does internal affairs vs. external attacks only matter (when it comes to other countries)? Humanitarian justifications or focus only on US interests (not that one can't see them as related). I'm just trying to bring up some of the potential questions.

Or, it strikes me, you didn't refer to the use of force but "entanglements," so are you meaning to refer to foreign commitments -- NATO? (or some of the expenses thereof), the UN? treaties? ed

Also, being in charge has given the US a lot of power which it won't be so willing to give up. But as you say, if this thing is successful it may give a template for the future.

Hmm, I can't tell here if you are referring to things as you think they are (I'd say to that that we can decide we are willing to give up some of the power/responsibility that comes from being "in charge") or as you prefer them to be. I guess this gets back to the "foreign entanglement" thing -- entanglement as in stuck in a war in another country, or entanglement as in involved in a coalition or international organization or treaty?

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 08:09 PM
The only thing ridiculous here is your ridiculous conclusion. I think we are probably on the same page with regard to the ambiguity of the Libya situation. But I must demur from your final remark. France had good reasons to oppose the invasion of Iraq, and in historical retrospect they seem almost prescient. The flimsy justifications for the war presented by the Bush administration were accepted by very few Europeans, and certainly not by the sceptical French. One didn't have to be an anti-American diplomat at the Quai d'Orsay, or even a Chirac (who despised both Bush and Blair) to think that the US was bent on waging war with Iraq for reasons that had nothing to do with humanitarianism or "just war." The US was seeking revenge for 9/11. It also had a deeply ignorant president who paid far too much attention to advisors (the neocons) who had been beating the drums of war for years.

I plead guilty to the charge of rhetorical excess. I simply couldn't resist the French thing, try as I might.

I remain, as I have been from the start, ambivalent on whether the Libya action is justified. All the to-ing and fro-ing on what we are doing in Libya and why could be dismissed as the usual diplomatic parlor game that accompanies any war but for one thing: The repeated claims that we are merely protecting civilians (which ones, by the way?) and not seeking regime change seems nearly certain to drag the conflict out uselessly, prolonging the suffering of the very civilians we are ostensibly trying to protect. Eventually, Gadhafi will have to be disposed of or he will become the latest dictator-cum-hero for the Arab "street" to fall in love with for his heroic resistance to the West.

That's the big problem, and I can't believe all those incredibly smart Obama people haven't considered it. How very "Bush League."

stephanie
03-25-2011, 08:16 PM
These troubling behaviors that suggest a POTENTIAL for mass murder are acting as triggers for intervention. So the intervention might be seen as analogous to preventive detention in normal law enforcement. You might think of it in terms of an injunction against Kaddafi (no fly zone), a restraining order, a pursuit on issuance of an arrest warrant for a violent crime, patrols and other provisions of safety for the population after a "riot."

This strikes me as probably right, but I'm going to think about it. [Edit: as well as the troubling aspect of the potentiality of the aggression. On first blush, I'm seeing a distinction based on the imminence and likelihood of the aggression. That is, it's no valid justification to say that someone has done bad things in the past so is the kind of person likely to kill more if we don't remove him. But if there is good evidence that violence is about to start, we wouldn't have to wait until it actually does to do anything at all, or there'd be no chance of acting in time. Your analogy does seem to work here, to me.]

That's why I'm not sure that humanitarian interventions should be viewed as a subset of just wars. The police work framework is better.

I actually think just war still works as a framework -- I'd say it's really the same basic rationale that allows for the use of force in policing that underlying the just war theory, so I'm not convinced there's a distinction that matters. But again, I'll think about it.

The problem, however, is that Kadaffi claims to BE the law, not to obey the law.

True, and at least to some degree we don't accept that. One of the issues is where we draw the line on this (and who "we" are).

The very existence of dictators or authoritarian governments that don't respect human rights is the problem, and that is where the problem must be solved, before, not after the crisis.

I agree with this, and I further agree that pacificism is not non-action, but a more proactive approach focused at preventing the perceived need for the use of force. But the problem for me is that we do get situations like this (or like others, since I'm not yet convinced I'd choose Libya and the no fly zone as my illustration, as I have mixed feelings about it, as discussed elsewhere). So what then? Is the only answer "sorry, we all should have noticed and done something sooner -- something we may not yet have sufficiently effective institutions to deal with -- so it's too late"? Or should we consider whether we (and again, I'm not yet determining who "we" is) have a responsibility to do something more.

If democracy comes by peaceful means and is sustained by strong civic institutions, we won't have a future of genocides and humanitarian crises. If, on the other hand, the regimes can't modernize and democratize, they will all eventually fail and leave Kadaffi-type messes.

Yes, I agree with this.

stephanie
03-25-2011, 08:31 PM
The part I have bolded above is incorrect. What about the Kurds in the north and the Shiites in the south of the country? There were, in fact, not one but two no-fly zones in Iraq enforced throughout the Clinton years. And the U.S. and Britain dropped bombs on Saddam in a desultory fashion from time to time to remind him of that fact.

None of that had anything really to do with our invasion. We didn't go in to protect the Shiites or Kurds against a massacre, let alone to stop one that was in process. We ended up in the middle of a civil war, and that's a concern with our actions here too, but that in no way makes the use of force in both cases based on the same rationale. (And I'm not saying this to justify Libya, which I have mixed feelings about and think can be reasonably criticized on a number of grounds.)

It is certainly true that the Bush administration was wrong about the presence of WMD in Iraq.

My point about this is not that Bush lied (you'll notice that I didn't suggest that he did). I do criticize the Bush admin for rushing us in without doing enough to confirm that there were WMD and when there was not reasonable basis to see an imminent threat therefrom (as would have been needed to justify an invasion on such grounds, but my point about the WMD here was actually somewhat different. The rationale for the war was never anything like R2P until after the fact when there were the efforts to shut off criticism with references to Saddam's evil acts and past slaughters. And the problem with those efforts is that they did try to call on R2P-type considerations (comparisons to genocide and so on) without acknowledging the fact that they had been in the past and we didn't do anything then. Under traditional just war theory (which I think underlies R2P, although as you can see Wonderment and I are discussing that), action to prevent or stop a genocide would certainly be a justification for the use of force, but to get rid of a very bad man long after that particular bad act (which we did nothing about at the time) is not.

This is why the effort to say they are somehow the same is puzzling to me. Again, there are plenty of reasons to be uncomfortable with or oppose the actions in Libya, but that it's inconsistent with opposing Iraq is an argument that makes no sense to me. (I'm wondering, especially given the complaints about Bush's critics, if that take is more based on lingering irritation with the opposition to Iraq?)

Ocean
03-25-2011, 08:45 PM
...as well as the troubling aspect of the potentiality of the aggression. On first blush, I'm seeing a distinction based on the imminence and likelihood of the aggression. That is, it's no valid justification to say that someone has done bad things in the past so is the kind of person likely to kill more if we don't remove him.

Why not? In a risk assessment, past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.

badhatharry
03-25-2011, 09:00 PM
I'm just not sure why it's important for you to bring right/left into your statement of your own views.


It's important because there seems to be a difference between the right's view and the left's view in regards to not getting involved in foreign war. I am not a good spokesman for the right on this because I am not much of an historian but from what I have heard about this from people like Ron Paul and other libertarians is that the US has no business getting involved in other countries' affairs and that it is against the original intent of the founders. Paul believes in a military however and a strong defense.

The way I see the left's anti war view is more akin to Wonderment's view and that is that war is always immoral and should always be avoided. It also includes what I consider to be a quixotic hope that man can live without war.

That said, I'm wondering what not liking "foreign entanglements" entails for you. Presumably not pacifism or we'd know if, since there have been a number of discussions on that. (And note that I'm aware that pacifism is not isolationism anyway.)

I think a lot of the trouble in the world is because countries don't mind their own business. The problem is that we have gone so far down this road of meddling it is probably impossible to ever go back. The world as we know it is built on alliances and mutual enemies.

The kind of meddling I'm most familiar with are colonization projects engaged in by most of the European countries in the 16th thru 19th centuries. I'm sure that there are better historians than I around here, but it seems to me that most of the troubles we are living with today can be traced back to those early encroachments in the politics of foreign people.

That's probably why Jefferson warned against 'foreign entanglements' but then went against his own advice regarding the slave trade and native people.

Suffice it to say we (the west) have created most of the havoc we are dealing with today. But on the other hand if we hadn't been the aggressors we may be in worse shape. Impossible to say.

PS. I just got out of the shower and realized I didn't answer your question about R2P. So I guess the philosophical extension of avoiding foreign entanglements would be to not support any UN efforts. However that's not practical today. I would go back to the idea that this may work and if it does, become a template for the future.

rfrobison
03-25-2011, 09:45 PM
None of that had anything really to do with our invasion. We didn't go in to protect the Shiites or Kurds against a massacre, let alone to stop one that was in process. We ended up in the middle of a civil war, and that's a concern with our actions here too, but that in no way makes the use of force in both cases based on the same rationale. (And I'm not saying this to justify Libya, which I have mixed feelings about and think can be reasonably criticized on a number of grounds.)

I don't disagree (much) with what you say here. Stopping massacres against the Kurds and Shiites was what the two no-fly zones were for, though in the case of the Shiites that didn't prevent Saddam from sending ground troops and helicopters in to crush the uprising that Bush The Elder had called for after the Persian Gulf War.

I'm still not convinced that because we did not intervene directly to put a stop to those massacres (or much earlier ones against the Kurds) very soon after they occurred, that somehow invalidates the invocation of the "right to protect" doctrine in toppling Saddam's regime -- even if doing so after it was clear that the WMDs did not exist weakens the case badly from a PR standpoint. To my mind there is -- or should be -- no statute of limitations on the crimes Saddam committed.

My point about this is not that Bush lied (you'll notice that I didn't suggest that he did). I do criticize the Bush admin for rushing us in without doing enough to confirm that there were WMD and when there was not reasonable basis to see an imminent threat therefrom (as would have been needed to justify an invasion on such grounds, but my point about the WMD here was actually somewhat different.

No real argument with this point. I said Bush's "most vociferous critics." You, Stephanie, are a trenchant critic of Bush and conservatives in general, and also an eminently reasonable one. That's why I dislike you so much. ;)


The rationale for the war was never anything like R2P until after the fact when there were the efforts to shut off criticism with references to Saddam's evil acts and past slaughters. And the problem with those efforts is that they did try to call on R2P-type considerations (comparisons to genocide and so on) without acknowledging the fact that they had been in the past and we didn't do anything then. Under traditional just war theory (which I think underlies R2P, although as you can see Wonderment and I are discussing that), action to prevent or stop a genocide would certainly be a justification for the use of force, but to get rid of a very bad man long after that particular bad act (which we did nothing about at the time) is not.

I've already tried to answer this objection.

This is why the effort to say they are somehow the same is puzzling to me. Again, there are plenty of reasons to be uncomfortable with or oppose the actions in Libya, but that it's inconsistent with opposing Iraq is an argument that makes no sense to me. (I'm wondering, especially given the complaints about Bush's critics, if that take is more based on lingering irritation with the opposition to Iraq?)[

As it is puzzling to me that Gadhafi's (thankfully, thus far) penny-ante thuggery against his subjects justifies military action whereas Saddam's more thorough and deadly approach did not.

I admit there is an element of partisanship in my critique. For that I must beg your pardon. It seems to me that the glib answer as to why GWB invaded Iraq was threefold: To rid Saddam of WMDs he was sure the Iraqi strongman possessed; to finish the "unfinished business" of the Gulf War: Dubya's father came in for a good deal of criticism for having left Saddam in charge, and I think he wanted to resolve that "problem"; and because the neocons presented a beguiling picture of a Middle East transformed: a democratic Iraq would serve as a model for the region and steal the oxygen from the al Qaeda types by showing Muslims and Arabs that there was a better alternative to rule by military strongmen or mullahs.

The first and most important rationale fell apart when the weapons never materialized. The second veers into the realm of psychology and I'm reluctant to speculate as to its truth, but "unfinished business" is a weak reed to rest a war on, as we all learned. The third seems to have been discredited by the bloody cost of the war and the highly imperfect result, though I have hopes that Iraqi democracy could vindicate itself someday, even if it never quite vindicates Bush.

As I've said to Florian, my concerns about what we are doing in Libya are pragmatic. We've forsworn regime change as an objective. We seem to be playing for a draw for reasons I can't quite fathom, being more concerned with diplomatic and legalistic niceties than the actual costs and benefits of this war to the Libyan people. That is deeply troubling to me.

Lastly, the self-congratulatory smugness of Ms. Hulbert and the other guy whose name escapes me in the related DV absolutely drives me nuts. "We know how to fight a war the RIGHT way, and for the right reasons, unlike those stupid neocons!"

Petty partisanship, maybe, but that's what's spurred me to object. I'll let you and others be the judge of whether that fatally undermines the case I've been trying to make.

Wonderment
03-25-2011, 11:26 PM
One of the issues is where we draw the line on this (and who "we" are).


Who: That's true. I would give international law some time to evolve a more coherent "we," however. I mean, the UN is only a few decades old, and R2P as a fully articulated standard is brand new. There are big structural problems with the UNSC that worry me, but I wouldn't say those are fatal flaws. The idea of a big coalition with no strong objections is a good one. Big progress over unilateral actions.

But even assuming you have a good "we," you still need a good "when" and a good "how."

When: Any reasonable, humane person would want her society to do something (not "stand idly by", as Obama put it) during an ongoing genocide. Samantha Power aptly titled her book on genocide because it really is a "problem from hell." On the other hand, I don't think Libya met the gold standard of "when," for reasons I've already stated. We could have "stood by" militarily, and we certainly had other tools at our disposition to reduce conflict and violence and, much more obviously, to help the victims.

I agree with this, and I further agree that pacificism is not non-action, but a more proactive approach focused at preventing the perceived need for the use of force. But the problem for me is that we do get situations like this (or like others, since I'm not yet convinced I'd choose Libya and the no fly zone as my illustration, as I have mixed feelings about it, as discussed elsewhere). So what then? Is the only answer "sorry, we all should have noticed and done something sooner -- something we may not yet have sufficiently effective institutions to deal with -- so it's too late"?

How: Mass murder is a problem like a bubonic plague from hell because it's exceptionally hard to treat an outbreak. You have to vaccinate against it, and once it's happened, you must try to contain the spread of infectoin, but you also have to practice triage and treat the survivors the best you can. To some extent, under some circumstances, it's fair to raise the question, "Why didn't you get your children vaccinated when you had the chance?"

Personally, I think the long-range overall benefits of renouncing violence compensate for any short-term benefits of acting violently, although I'm not 100% comfortable with applying my standard universally. I'd try to do an awful lot to prevent the Kaddafis of the world from gaining power (education, development aid, etc.) and I'd want to help survivors (grant visas to refugees, adopt children, work in hospitals in war zones.) In the middle of the firestorm my conscience would be at peace refraining from killing some to protect others.

badhatharry
03-26-2011, 12:01 AM
(I wish we would pick a spelling for that damned name)

Saw one today that's cute and apropos; Q'Daffy

rfrobison
03-26-2011, 12:29 AM
Saw one today that's cute and apropos; Q'Daffy

I've been lobbying for one I came up with all by my lonesome: Godawful. But nobody seems impressed but me. Oh, well. If nobody will toot my horn, I'll have do it myself.

Ocean
03-26-2011, 12:31 AM
Oh, well. If nobody will toot my horn, I'll have do it myself.

We all have to from time to time. ;)

chiwhisoxx
03-26-2011, 12:49 AM
The moral ambiguity comes from things like this.

http://www.latimes.com/news/nationworld/world/la-fg-libya-prisoners-20110324,0,5238438.story

I don't see many people, here or otherwise, discussing this stories or ones similar to it. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places, but shouldn't this be a much bigger deal?

AemJeff
03-26-2011, 01:00 AM
I don't see many people, here or otherwise, discussing this stories or ones similar to it. Maybe I'm just looking in the wrong places, but shouldn't this be a much bigger deal?

Is it really shocking to find Jacobins among revolutionaries? The alternative to Qadaffi (I'm settling on the nearly phonetic "Q" spelling) isn't necessarily a palatable option, and we have very little influence on what form such a thing might take, it would seem. That's one of the (many) reasons we're not contemplating a major role there. It's a separate argument from whether enforcing a NFZ is the right thing to do in response to the regime's use of its Air Force against its own citizens.

chiwhisoxx
03-26-2011, 03:07 AM
Is it really shocking to find Jacobins among revolutionaries? The alternative to Qadaffi (I'm settling on the nearly phonetic "Q" spelling) isn't necessarily a palatable option, and we have very little influence on what form such a thing might take, it would seem. That's one of the (many) reasons we're not contemplating a major role there. It's a separate argument from whether enforcing a NFZ is the right thing to do in response to the regime's use of its Air Force against its own citizens.

I just want to concur that we should use that spelling of Qaddafi. Perhaps we could form a task force to make this view widespread.

badhatharry
03-26-2011, 05:27 PM
I've been lobbying for one I came up with all by my lonesome: Godawful. But nobody seems impressed but me. Oh, well. If nobody will toot my horn, I'll have do it myself.

People are a hell of a lot more impressed with you that they are me!

But I still like Q'Daffy. (who is godawful)

rfrobison
03-26-2011, 07:26 PM
People are a hell of a lot more impressed with you than they are me!

But I still like Q'Daffy. (who is godawful)

I'm sure that's not true. Besides, you have the cooler "handle."

bjkeefe
03-26-2011, 08:25 PM
Occasional B'head Charli Carpenter (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/03/true-but-irrelevant) has a post on this topic, and there is a lengthy discussion in the comments.

A recommendation from Charli (http://www.lawyersgunsmoneyblog.com/2011/03/when-is-humanitarian-intervention-appropriate):

When Is Humanitarian Intervention Appropriate?

Jon Western considers the fine line (http://duckofminerva.blogspot.com/2011/03/will-r2p-survive.html#more) between jumping the gun and doing too little too late.

Wonderment
03-26-2011, 08:58 PM
It's a separate argument from whether enforcing a NFZ is the right thing to do in response to the regime's use of its Air Force against its own citizens.

Maybe, but sustaining the NFZ over time will depend on the public perception of the "rebels." There's no clock on R2P, which is one of the huge problems with the doctrine. When do we stop protecting? How do we know (short of regime change) when the crisis is over?

It will not play well with US taxpayers to be funding a long-term operation if many on the side we're funding commit atrocities of their own.

Ocean
03-26-2011, 09:44 PM
Maybe, but sustaining the NFZ over time will depend on the public perception of the "rebels." There's no clock on R2P, which is one of the huge problems with the doctrine. When do we stop protecting? How do we know (short of regime change) when the crisis is over?

It will not play well with US taxpayers to be funding a long-term operation if many on the side we're funding commit atrocities of their own.

Is there any diplomatic process going on simultaneously? Is anybody trying to negotiate terms between the rival parties? Should that be a more important and well spelled out part of the strategy?

Wonderment
03-26-2011, 10:52 PM
Is there any diplomatic process going on simultaneously? Is anybody trying to negotiate terms between the rival parties? Should that be a more important and well spelled out part of the strategy?

I'm sure people are talking to each other, but I don't even get what the best case scenario would be. Does the UN-coalition want a ceasefire, a divided Libya, a transition plan for elections down the road (Egypt II), a provisional government with representatives from all factions? Do all the Kaddafis have to go? If Kaddafi has to go, how do you take Tripoli from him without another huge humanitarian disaster?

It's sort of like rescuing someone at sea without a plan on how to get back to the shore.

badhatharry
03-26-2011, 10:59 PM
I'm sure people are talking to each other, but I don't even get what the best case scenario would be. Does the UN-coalition want a ceasefire, a divided Libya, a transition plan for elections down the road (Egypt II), a provisional government with representatives from all factions? Do all the Kaddafis have to go? If Kaddafi has to go, how do you take Tripoli from him without another huge humanitarian disaster?

It's sort of like rescuing someone at sea without a plan on how to get back to the shore.

I'm sure there's a lot going on that the public knows nothing about.

Hopefully.

Ocean
03-26-2011, 11:01 PM
I'm sure people are talking to each other, but I don't even get what the best case scenario would be. Does the UN-coalition want a ceasefire, a divided Libya, a transition plan for elections down the road (Egypt II), a provisional government with representatives from all factions? Do all the Kaddafis have to go? If Kaddafi has to go, how do you take Tripoli from him without another huge humanitarian disaster?

It's sort of like rescuing someone at sea without a plan on how to get back to the shore.

Okay. So the reason I asked those questions is that the UN could have some formal process by which interventions of this kind have two arms, the military intervention necessary to stop imminent massive violence (genocide), and a diplomatic intervention by which the participating parties are able to come up with a formula for non-violent resolution of their conflict. I'm not implying that it would be as simple as that, but there should be a model of intervention. Perhaps looking at past interventions and how those were resolved could give a few ideas about how to do it.

Wonderment
03-27-2011, 12:12 AM
I'm not implying that it would be as simple as that, but there should be a model of intervention. Perhaps looking at past interventions and how those were resolved could give a few ideas about how to do it.

I'm all for diplomacy, non-violent conflict resolution and early detection of potential catastrophes.

But part of the problem with using lethal force is that every situation is unique and intervention has unpredictable outcomes and unintended consequences. Libya seems especially experimental and ambiguous to me.

The politicians who support military intervention, however, must oversimplify or risk losing the short-term argument. They make it look like they know precisely what they're doing, but it's mostly unknowable and uncontrollable.

Of course, we can learn from the past, but global humanitarian crisis situations are so complex and fluid that it's impossible to say with any degree of confidence what "would have happened" if we hadn't intervened. We can't run simulations of alternate histories.

Ocean
03-27-2011, 12:37 AM
I'm all for diplomacy, non-violent conflict resolution and early detection of potential catastrophes.

But part of the problem with using lethal force is that every situation is unique and intervention has unpredictable outcomes and unintended consequences. Libya seems especially experimental and ambiguous to me.

The politicians who support military intervention, however, must oversimplify or risk losing the short-term argument. They make it look like they know precisely what they're doing, but it's mostly unknowable and uncontrollable.

Of course, we can learn from the past, but global humanitarian crisis situations are so complex and fluid that it's impossible to say with any degree of confidence what "would have happened" if we hadn't intervened. We can't run simulations of alternate histories.

I'm not advocating military intervention. I'm undecided about this. I've been reading and watching, but I want to see what develops and what is dug out in terms of the motivations behind the intervention.

My point is about developing strategies for the future if R2P was to become more widely used. As you said, what is the final goal? How do they determine when to withdraw? What if there's a stalemate? What are the conditions presented to the regime in order to stop interventions? I understand all situations are different and fluid, but there has to be some general idea of a desired outcome. Would it be acceptable if Qaddafi agreed to stop military repression and wanted to negotiate with protesters? What would define the end of intervention?

Those are the kinds of general guidelines that would be needed.

Wonderment
03-27-2011, 02:36 AM
My point is about developing strategies for the future if R2P was to become more widely used.

Yes, I agree. The system is in its infancy. R2P does not succeed or fail based on outcomes in Libya.

rfrobison
03-27-2011, 06:08 AM
I'm sure people are talking to each other, but I don't even get what the best case scenario would be. Does the UN-coalition want a ceasefire, a divided Libya, a transition plan for elections down the road (Egypt II), a provisional government with representatives from all factions? Do all the Kaddafis have to go? If Kaddafi has to go, how do you take Tripoli from him without another huge humanitarian disaster?

It's sort of like rescuing someone at sea without a plan on how to get back to the shore.

And this is exactly the crux of the problem with this action. We can dress it up in all the international law jargon we like, but the fact remains that we are taking sides in a civil war. It is disingenuous in the extreme for the West to present this intervention in purely humanitarian terms. The minute we start firing cruise missiles at rebels to stop them from advancing on Gadhafi's troops, I'll buy the "neutral protector" justification. Not before.

chiwhisoxx
03-27-2011, 02:46 PM
And this is exactly the crux of the problem with this action. We can dress it up in all the international law jargon we like, but the fact remains that we are taking sides in a civil war. It is disingenuous in the extreme for the West to present this intervention in purely humanitarian terms. The minute we start firing cruise missiles at rebels to stop them from advancing on Gadhafi's troops, I'll buy the "neutral protector" justification. Not before.

I wouldn't quite call it a civil war. I agree that the neutral protector jargon is disingenuous, and we're clearly siding against Qaddafi. But I don't think that's *necessarily* problematic. If we knew more about the rebels, and were sure they were a coherent group ready to move towards a more open and inclusive democratic government in Libya, I don't see why we shouldn't support them, even if in a limited or perhaps even non-military fashion. The problem for me is I don't think our picture of the rebels is all that clear, and most of the evidence seems to point to a much messier group that is only really bound by opposition to Qaddafi.

Wonderment
03-27-2011, 02:58 PM
We can dress it up in all the international law jargon we like, but the fact remains that we are taking sides in a civil war. It is disingenuous in the extreme for the West to present this intervention in purely humanitarian terms.

Let me ask you a couple of questions. First, do you accept the premise of R2P? If so, do you think it is best left to individual countries to act unilaterally in response? If not, what do you think we should do during or just prior to a real genocide or the slaughter of thousands? Forget Libya. Do you think "international law jargon" would be inappropriate in the case of a Nazi Germany type situation? What criteria would you use to green light an action against Nazis (assume they are not at war with other countries)?

rfrobison
03-27-2011, 07:38 PM
Let me ask you a couple of questions. First, do you accept the premise of R2P? If so, do you think it is best left to individual countries to act unilaterally in response? If not, what do you think we should do during or just prior to a real genocide or the slaughter of thousands? Forget Libya. Do you think "international law jargon" would be inappropriate in the case of a Nazi Germany type situation? What criteria would you use to green light an action against Nazis (assume they are not at war with other countries)?

To your first question: I'd have to say "Yes, but..." Yes, I believe the doctrine is sound in the abstract, but the question then arises: Does "right to protect" then become "obligation to protect," if not, why not?

Dominique Devillepain was on a BBC news program the other day pointing out that there's a somewhat analogous situation going on in Ivory Coast as we speak. Alassane Ouattara has been recognized as having won the latest elections there. The incumbent, Laurent Gbagbo, refuses to step down. People have been killed -- at least as many as in Libya; thousands have been forced to flee. Yet the U.N. and the African Union thus far have been unwilling to do more than issue verbal condemnations and extend a security cordon around Ouattara. Again, why? Are the lives of Ivoirians any less valuable than those of Libyans?

A related question is what standard would justify such intervention? How many people would have to be killed. Ten? A hundred? A thousand? More?

What about a Tiananmen Square-type situation where the perpetrator is a member of the Security Council? Are we going to say the "right to protect" justifies intervention in sovereign states EXCEPT those on the security council? If we are going to couch such interventions in the language of universal human rights law then, by golly, they'd better be applied universally. Otherwise we will show the concept as being utterly worthless.

Up to now, there has been no political will to give the U.N. a standing army capable of taking on the tasks which "right to protect" would seem to imply. I doubt seriously that U.S. taxpayers will be willing to put the U.S. military out on permanent loan to the U.N., yet it is the only force with anything anywhere near the global reach needed to enforce the doctrine.

These are just a few of the problems bedeviling "right to protect" in practice. I'm sure there are more. In your Nazi scenario, as indeed in Libya today, it seems the best we can do is to say that those countries able and willing to intervene should do so to protect those universal human rights. They will ultimately pay the price with their own voters if they do so badly or for the wrong reasons. But they will be constrained by self-interest to some degree: Libya has oil; Ivory Coast has cocoa. Hence the two different decisions.

It's lousy for people who are unlucky enough to live under dictatorships not blessed with strategic value or significant natural resources, but it's the best we can do, I'm afraid.

rfrobison
03-27-2011, 08:30 PM
I wouldn't quite call it a civil war. I agree that the neutral protector jargon is disingenuous, and we're clearly siding against Qaddafi. But I don't think that's *necessarily* problematic. If we knew more about the rebels, and were sure they were a coherent group ready to move towards a more open and inclusive democratic government in Libya, I don't see why we shouldn't support them, even if in a limited or perhaps even non-military fashion. The problem for me is I don't think our picture of the rebels is all that clear, and most of the evidence seems to point to a much messier group that is only really bound by opposition to Qaddafi.

True enough. And although I'm ambivalent about our involvement in this war, I'm not ambivalent about whom I'd like to see win, and it isn't the guy whose name starts with a "G" or a "Q" -- new nickname? "GQ"?

I just wish President Obama would level with the American people and stop saying regime change isn't the goal. He could use some of those awesome rhetorical skills of his to come up with a new and improved term so as to avoid looking more and more like his predecessor, but let's not lie quite so baldly. Otherwise, when we really DO need to use the military unilaterally we may find the public unwilling to go along, to the detriment of U.S. interests and/or security.

Wonderment
03-28-2011, 12:48 AM
To your first question: I'd have to say "Yes, but..." Yes, I believe the doctrine is sound in the abstract, but the question then arises: Does "right to protect" then become "obligation to protect," if not, why not?


The R in R2P stands for "responsibility," i.e., obligation.

A related question is what standard would justify such intervention? How many people would have to be killed. Ten? A hundred? A thousand? More?

The theory is not quantitative. If it ultimately succeeds, it shouldn't matter if one person or a thousand are killed. The standard would be like the ICC. If the perpetrator country cannot or will not prosecute the crime, the international community must intervene. (I'm not saying I agree with this; I'm just pointing out that the theory is not inconsistent within the framework of international law.)

What about a Tiananmen Square-type situation where the perpetrator is a member of the Security Council? Are we going to say the "right to protect" justifies intervention in sovereign states EXCEPT those on the security council?

I agree that the SC is a huge obstacle to effective R2P. For example, China or Russia could have put the kibosh on the whole Libyan intervention if either was so inclined, just as the USA can always be counted on to block resolutions on Israel.


If we are going to couch such interventions in the language of universal human rights law then, by golly, they'd better be applied universally. Otherwise we will show the concept as being utterly worthless.

Right. I'm just wondering if there is a path to achieve universal application.

I doubt seriously that U.S. taxpayers will be willing to put the U.S. military out on permanent loan to the U.N., yet it is the only force with anything anywhere near the global reach needed to enforce the doctrine.

That's another problem. If the USA is indispensable militarily, I think the R2P project fails.

In your Nazi scenario, as indeed in Libya today, it seems the best we can do is to say that those countries able and willing to intervene should do so to protect those universal human rights. They will ultimately pay the price with their own voters if they do so badly or for the wrong reasons. But they will be constrained by self-interest to some degree: Libya has oil; Ivory Coast has cocoa. Hence the two different decisions.

That could be, but it seems to provide a huge incentive for inaction -- being a Bad Samaritan. (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Good_Samaritan_law)

rfrobison
03-28-2011, 01:58 AM
Thanks for the clarification of "r" in R2P. I suppose it's a measure of my skepticism -- though hardly a good reflection on me -- that I never had that straight in my head. As for the rest, I wish the advocates luck. But I'm not holding my breath.

stephanie
03-28-2011, 01:00 PM
Why not? In a risk assessment, past behavior is a predictor of future behavior.

Sure, but you need something more to see an imminent threat, although it may well play a role in deciding that one is there.

I think it gets back to the justification for violence -- there's a narrow exception to the general principle that violence/killing is unacceptable when the violence used is against an aggressor and is of a reasonable amount necessary to defend (yourself or others) against the aggression. What I'm trying to distinguish here are the efforts in some cases to extend that logic into a general rationale for knocking off any leader who has used violence in the past, on the grounds that "oh, Saddam is the kind of guy who surely would again, so we are saving more lives than we sacrifice."

Generally, the justifications for violence (such as just war, which I like I said I think underlies the kinds of rationales we are talking about) have not been based simply on utilitarian terms (X lives vs. Y lives). It's not generally acceptable to kill someone (soldiers being classed for the purposes of "just war" by the country they are fighting for) who is not an an active aggressor to save other lives (i.e., it would be classed as murder), even if you think that person might be a threat in the future. In large part because (1) we don't know what the person will do, and (2) there is time to take other actions that don't require killing in an effort to address the problem. (Note: I'm not saying that you can't get to the same conclusion under a utilitarian analysis, but just that I personally do not.)

I don't know -- is this more controversial than I assumed?

Of course, there's an added wrinkle when you are justifying intervention into another country's internal affairs. (I think this is one reason why it seems easier to justify when it's about the rights of a discrete group that are not really considered part of the country by the powers in charge, i.e., stopping genocide or similar activities.)

stephanie
03-28-2011, 01:11 PM
It's important because there seems to be a difference between the right's view and the left's view in regards to not getting involved in foreign war.

Oh, okay. We simply disagree on this, then. I don't think there is a "right" view and "left" view. I think there are multiple views on both sides, and many of them cross left/right divides. I just don't see a benefit (beyond perhaps an attempted partisan one) in trying to distinguish them in that way, but again I understand we disagree.

the US has no business getting involved in other countries' affairs and that it is against the original intent of the founders.

We've certainly justified it in various ways from the beginning, as appropriate to our size/power and economic aims and so on, and obviously we were okay with France helping us out against Britain. And we've had treaties since the beginning (as authorized by the Constitution). So as a legal/historical matter I think it's about as valid as the Tea Party's "history" generally (although I also think most TP members are likely to be much more pro agressive foreign policy than I am anyway -- as I cited elsewhere, more express admiration for George W. Bush than Ron Paul, after all). But I certainly agree that there's a strong tradition for the idea (followed or not) that the US has no business getting involved in other countries' affairs. It's a view that you will easily find on both the "left" and "right." When I was a kid, I recall the argument coming much more from leftwingers (when my parents were kids, the opposite would have been true), and since then I've seen it go back and forth depending on the particular action at issue.

The way I see the left's anti war view is more akin to Wonderment's view and that is that war is always immoral and should always be avoided.

I really respect Wonderment's view and think that we ought to give pacificism more consideration than we do, but I think the notion that it the main reason the "left" (if you mean liberals and others who tend to be Dems and classified as left of center in the US) is ever against any particular war is clearly inaccurate. There aren't that many pacificist in the US. It's rather like claiming that most on "the left" in the US (defined the same way) are anti-religion.

Florian
03-28-2011, 01:22 PM
What about a Tiananmen Square-type situation where the perpetrator is a member of the Security Council? Are we going to say the "right to protect" justifies intervention in sovereign states EXCEPT those on the security council? If we are going to couch such interventions in the language of universal human rights law then, by golly, they'd better be applied universally. Otherwise we will show the concept as being utterly worthle.

Right. I'm just wondering if there is a path to achieve universal application.

There is no path at present to univeral application of R2P because there is no international community at present. There are only different states with different interests and different conceptions of their responsibility to the peoples of other states. Sometimes it happens that national self-interest and humanitarianism coincide, as they do in Libya for France and Britain (and the US?) because Libya supplies Europe with oil. I confess that I am less troubled by this coincidence than you or rfrobinson.

stephanie
03-28-2011, 01:35 PM
I'm still not convinced that because we did not intervene directly to put a stop to those massacres (or much earlier ones against the Kurds) very soon after they occurred, that somehow invalidates the invocation of the "right to protect" doctrine in toppling Saddam's regime -- even if doing so after it was clear that the WMDs did not exist weakens the case badly from a PR standpoint. To my mind there is -- or should be -- no statute of limitations on the crimes Saddam committed.

I think this illustrates the difference in how we are looking at the question, but it's less about R2P than simply just war, it seems to me. That is, to claim this parallel between Iraq and R2P, I think you have to have rejected just war as the proper analysis and apply some other approach (some utilitarian notion or perhaps the "coalition of the willing" as a police force type approach). [Edit 2: I realize, of course, that Wonderment and others are seeing R2P as distinct from just war, but I think it's authorized under the same principles. It's just that it also seems to add additional requirements -- to the extent we see it as a product of international community, for example -- that might make it acceptable to those who do not accept just war. But I don't think it expands the justification beyond that which underpins just war. There are circumstances under which a UN-backed operation perhaps could, become more like a force to remove and punish wrongdoers, but that isn't reached by the R2P rationale as I understand it. It's more about stopping or preventing atrocities.]

As I understand it, just war is in essence defensive, not to punish a wrongdoer. The principles, of course, are (1) that the action is necessary to prevent serious harm to yourself or another (and that this harm be basically certain); (2) that there's no other option to avoid the harm; (3) that there's a strong and realistic likelihood of success; and (4) that you don't create harms worse than those you are trying to avoid. (There are a variety of other ways to put this, of course, but they basically get at the same thing.)

This is really the same rationale that justifies most exceptions to our "killing is wrong" rule -- it's pretty much the same analysis as that which justifies killing in self-defense, taken to a broader (and less workable) arena.

The problem with all the "he did bad things in the past, so it's fair to get him for that anyway" is that those do not fit criteria (1). There's a difference between using force when necessary to avoid harm (defensive action) and using it to punish a wrongdoer. The latter is not a basis under just war theory or our normal understanding of the justification of violence to kill someone. I can't go shoot someone who is a murder, even if I think he might soon kill again, for example.

Now, clearly, we don't have the same reason to avoid punitive self-help (vigilantism) in foreign affairs as domestically, as domestically we have law enforcement and in foreign affairs we don't really. That's probably why a lot of this relates to how one thinks of (and the hope one has for) international institutions. However, the existence of vigilantism -- which is a problem -- generally does cause institutions to address violence to develop, so I see a real conflict between people claiming that it is our business to address wrongdoing in other countries yet being against efforts to do so internationally or preferring that the US (or other countries, as there's no basis to distinguish between our "rights" here and the rights of others) go it alone. (I'm not saying you are doing this, just extending the thought.)

But whether one approves of us acting as world's policeman and judge (as in the "punish wrongdoing" analysis) I do think it's important to distinguish between the rationales, because they are different.

My criticism of Iraq -- at the time and since -- is that I simply don't see any way that Iraq fit under a just war theory and including in the past bad acts (which we did nothing about when they would have been more relevant) doesn't change that. The focus on WMD and the "Bush Doctrine" was the way to try and get there, along the lines of bombing to stop the ongoing development of nuclear weapons would be (you can debate whether that fits, but I'm inclined to think that under certain circumstances it could be).* On the other hand, R2P seems to me to fit criteria (1) just fine. That doesn't mean it's going to be a justified use of violence or a good idea -- seems to me that (2), (3), and (4) are all potential issues. On those grounds, especially (3) and (4), I think we have common concerns.

*Edit: here I'm focusing just on (1). Obviously, even if Iraq had fit (1), which it did not, there still would have been problems with (2)-(4), but those are basically similar to the considerations with Libya and any R2P-based action proposed anyway, so don't address the obvious difference that I'm seeing and you apparently are not.

stephanie
03-28-2011, 01:46 PM
Thanks, Wonderment. I do take seriously what you say and agree with a lot, even when it's not obvious.

Wonderment
03-28-2011, 03:42 PM
There is no path at present to univeral application of R2P because there is no international community at present.

True, but "at present" suggests to me that current institutions may be capable of evolving to a point where there can be universal even-handed application and legitimate triggers. Ordinary criminal justice evolves in the same way.

Sometimes it happens that national self-interest and humanitarianism coincide, as they do in Libya for France and Britain (and the US?) because Libya supplies Europe with oil. I confess that I am less troubled by this coincidence than you or rfrobinson.

I am troubled for one thing because I think that leads to interventions that use mere humanitarian pretexts to pursue other aims. Bush's Iraq War comes to mind. But it's not merely Bush's war. The US, despite its delusions of grandeur about the humanitarian intent of ALL its interventions, has a long history of sending its military into countries to prop up dictators and defend American corporate interests.

I think Euro and American delusions of grandeur -- certainly American Exceptionalism - play a role in our interventions. I don't believe that Germany, Brazil and India (or even China and Russia) care less about genocide or mass murder than we do. They are simply more skeptical of our ulterior motives, and they're probably more objective about the probability of our doing more harm than good in Libya.

Florian
03-28-2011, 04:50 PM
True, but "at present" suggests to me that current institutions may be capable of evolving to a point where there can be universal even-handed application and legitimate triggers. Ordinary criminal justice evolves in the same way.

One can always dream.

I am troubled for one thing because I think that leads to interventions that use mere humanitarian pretexts to pursue other aims. Bush's Iraq War comes to mind. But it's not merely Bush's war. The US, despite its delusions of grandeur about the humanitarian intent of ALL its interventions, has a long history of sending its military into countries to prop up dictators and defend American corporate interests.

True, that is one of the more obnoxious characteristics of American foreign policy of the past 60 years. Not that Europeans were any better, or any worse, when they ruled the world---although Americans certainly think that they are better. Why? Because they are not really Europeans at all.
.

Ocean
03-28-2011, 08:21 PM
I don't know whether it's controversial or not. I agree with you as you described it now. In a risk assessment you would look at past history of violence against his/her own people, and the imminence of a similar action now.

The controversy seems to be mostly about why the UN or any country individually or small group of countries would decide to intervene in some places and not in others. You don't need to respond. This is the same point that's being discussed elsewhere in this forum.

Wonderment
03-28-2011, 09:52 PM
In a risk assessment you would look at past history of violence against his/her own people, and the imminence of a similar action now.

I don't think we really have a rational basis for doing much in international law based on risk assessment. In criminal law, preventative detention is almost always wrong (although we are practicing it currently in some cases in Guantánamo), and we have come close to the line with lifetime civil commitments after a prison sentence for some serial sex offenders. But it seems especially hard to predict how even a cruel despot would behave in international affairs, especially when the stakes are so high.

Although there is plenty of talk about what Gadaffi was "certain to do" (some US government officials put the number at 100,000 dead), if you do a thought experiment of putting your money where your mouth is, you'll quickly see how confident you are of the certainty: Let's say you had the chance on the night before Gadaffi was set to take Bengazi to bet your mortgage that the civilian casualty number would be greater than 100, would you have done it? I certainly would not have, yet the whole argument is based on a presumed very high degree of certainty, cloaked in diplomatic and intelligence community doubletalk.

An ongoing genocide or practice of mass murder presents a more obvious justification for intervention. Then you are not doing any predicting; you're really stopping a crime that's occurring.

Ocean
03-28-2011, 10:28 PM
I don't think we really have a rational basis for doing much in international law based on risk assessment. In criminal law, preventative detention is almost always wrong (although we are practicing it currently in some cases in Guantánamo), and we have come close to the line with lifetime civil commitments after a prison sentence for some serial sex offenders. But it seems especially hard to predict how even a cruel despot would behave in international affairs, especially when the stakes are so high.

Although there is plenty of talk about what Gadaffi was "certain to do" (some US government officials put the number at 100,000 dead), if you do a thought experiment of putting your money where your mouth is, you'll quickly see how confident you are of the certainty: Let's say you had the chance on the night before Gadaffi was set to take Bengazi to bet your mortgage that the civilian casualty number would be greater than 100, would you have done it? I certainly would not have, yet the whole argument is based on a presumed very high degree of certainty, cloaked in diplomatic and intelligence community doubletalk.

An ongoing genocide or practice of mass murder presents a more obvious justification for intervention. Then you are not doing any predicting; you're really stopping a crime that's occurring.

I will assume that I'm failing to communicate effectively here.

I'm not advocating for anything at all. I still feel extremely uncomfortable with the idea of this kind of intervention.

First, the possibility that you pointed out, that these situations can be used as a pretext to intervene and meddle with the internal affairs of another country are great. Second, if the interest is in preventing loss of lives, there are many other ways of intervening in places where lives are being lost to famine or disease that are not as controversial or problematic.

Leaving my own discomfort with interventionism aside, if there was a plan to develop guidelines about when the UN could intervene to stop a massacre due to internal political unrest in any country, then there would have define the conditions that need to be met very precisely. What kind of governments would it apply to? Would you need to have some historical evidence that the current government/dictator has a potential for such violence as demonstrated by past similar situations? What kinds of steps has such government taken that are suggestive of imminent violence or has such government already started violence? Etc, etc.

My comparison with risk assessment was brought up because, it is indeed a risk assessment. The UN would have to assess the risk of imminent or continued violence.

Your "bet" comparison isn't, at least for me, helpful. The real bet isn't about your money or your mortgage, you're betting lives. How would you go about it? Would you wait to see if it's only a 100 people killed? At what point would you make a decision? When the death toll reaches 500, or 1000? What is the expected "collateral damage" due to the intervention?

Again, I've been just trying to understand how this would work, and also come up with some of the questions that seem to be appropriate to better define the situation. I'm not really making any statements about when or even if an intervention would be justified.

We are all too happy to think that we can do something heroic to save innocent people from a massacre. The problem is that we don't know whether that's what we're doing, and we have historically failed to calculate the dire consequences of such actions. When violence of any kind is taken, more violence will most likely be originated. We just don't know from where it will be coming.

Wonderment
03-28-2011, 10:50 PM
I agree with what you said. I was using the generic "you" in the previous post, not suggesting that you personally believed in intervention.

I am, however, very troubled by the cheap talk among Republicans and Democrats about what would have occurred, as if they knew with certainty. The President said today [emphasis added],

We knew that if we waited one more day, Benghazi – a city nearly the size of Charlotte – could suffer a massacre that would have reverberated across the region and stained the conscience of the world,” Mr. Obama said. “It was not in our national interest to let that happen. I refused to let that happen.”

Setting aside all the problems with the President's premise that he refused to let it happen (as if it was Obama who made the decision rather than the UN, and as if Clinton hadn't herself said that the Arab League request to intervene was the "game changer"), it's all speculative to the point that makes me very suspicious of motives.

So yes, we need better standards for R2P, and we need better tools than bombs to assess risk and achieve the P.

Wonderment
03-28-2011, 10:52 PM
This is another revolting aspect of the US exceptionalist approach to R2P from Obama's speech:


To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.

bjkeefe
03-28-2011, 11:38 PM
This is another revolting aspect of the US exceptionalist approach to R2P from Obama's speech:

To brush aside America’s responsibility as a leader and – more profoundly – our responsibilities to our fellow human beings under such circumstances would have been a betrayal of who we are. Some nations may be able to turn a blind eye to atrocities in other countries. The United States of America is different.

I don't find that "revolting" at all. A little self-serving spin perhaps, in light of the reality that we pick and choose where we intervene, but as long as we're going to outspend every other country combined on stocking a military, I have no problem with us stepping up and trying to do the right thing, even as I wish we'd do it more consistently.

And I do think we can claim a little exceptionalism on this count -- an awful lot of other rich nations never do these things, and do, in fact, look to the US to take the lead.

Wonderment
03-29-2011, 12:16 AM
A2D

bjkeefe
03-29-2011, 12:17 AM
A2D

?

Wonderment
03-29-2011, 12:22 AM
?

Soon to be revealed. Be patient. I predict you'll know within an hour or so.

bjkeefe
03-29-2011, 12:51 AM
Soon to be revealed. Be patient. I predict you'll know within an hour or so.

I was clued in by a helpful other. Not sure if I would have figured it anytime soon -- I was too locked into the context of "R2P," I think.

Sorry not to have gotten it, in any case.

Wonderment
03-29-2011, 01:26 AM
Not sure if I would have figured it anytime soon...

Trust me, you would have. (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/35084?in=05:50&out=06:06)

bjkeefe
03-29-2011, 05:16 PM
Trust me, you would have. (http://bloggingheads.tv/diavlogs/35084?in=05:50&out=06:06)

Heh. You're assuming I'm actually going to listen to that diavlog. Let me put it this way: I gotta get my backlog of unwatched annalthouse out of the way first.

badhatharry
03-30-2011, 09:46 PM
I really respect Wonderment's view and think that we ought to give pacificism more consideration than we do, but I think the notion that it the main reason the "left" (if you mean liberals and others who tend to be Dems and classified as left of center in the US) is ever against any particular war is clearly inaccurate. There aren't that many pacificist in the US. It's rather like claiming that most on "the left" in the US (defined the same way) are anti-religion.

This is what I said: The way I see the left's anti war view is more akin to Wonderment's view and that is that war is always immoral and should always be avoided.

You consistently mis-state what I say. I am not sure why that is. I never said that most on the left are (this or that). I was speaking of the subset of the left that is anti-war. Although the quotation above may be vague, I believe in the context of our conversation my intent was clear.

Wonderment
03-31-2011, 06:18 AM
El President José Múciga de Uruguay sobre el tema de la intervención en Libya:

"Este ataque implica un retroceso en el orden internacional vigente", sentenció Mujica consultado por el diario La República en la noche del sábado. "Es mucho peor el remedio que la enfermedad. Eso de salvar vidas a los bombazos es un contrasentido inexplicable. Todo esto es para llorar", agregó.

Ocean
03-31-2011, 08:41 AM
El President José Múciga de Uruguay sobre el tema de la intervención en Libya:

Mujica is an old school radical liberal. He sticks to principle as much as it's humanly (and presidentially) possible. I'm not surprised about his opinion on this. US interventionism is experienced as creepy -- to put it mildly and colloquially -- in many parts of the world.

(By the way, it's Mujica, not Múciga. :) )

stephanie
03-31-2011, 03:47 PM
This is what I said

Yes, and I don't see the inconsistency, I'm afraid. In fact, I think it's pretty obvious that I didn't misstate what you said, but responded to it.

You consistently mis-state what I say. I am not sure why that is. I never said that most on the left are (this or that). I was speaking of the subset of the left that is anti-war. Although the quotation above may be vague, I believe in the context of our conversation my intent was clear.

Yes, and most on the left who are anti-war are not pacifists, because -- as I said -- the vast majority of people on the left (as I defined "the left") are not pacifist. The fact that only a subset of the left are anti-war in any particular case does not affect my point unless you are claiming that it's only a small percentage of the left who are every against a war, which is clearly false. Certainly with regard to the current intervention and the last (Iraq), as well as various others that have been discussed recently (bombing Iran, say).

Thus, the claim that there are distinctive right and left views about war or for being against war still seems to me to be inaccurate.