Monday, March 21, 2011

Newsflash: Life is Messy

Just like everyone, I don't pretend to know what's the story with Libya. First the relevant nations spent a month dillying and dallying, then they suddenly passed the international decisions, and the next thing we knew they were bombing Libyan tanks and camps, well beyond a no-fly zone which they'd just spent weeks explaining they couldn't implement because it would be too complicated. Along the way they seem to have thrown out 15 years of chatter about war, intervention, exit strategies and much else.

I have every expectation that whoever comes out on top - whenever - will be an enemy of Israel. Even so, however, I haven't been hiding my position that someone ought to do something to stop Gaddafi from massacring his people. Libya in 2011 is an unusual case of black and white: the dictator has had almost half a century to demonstrate his evil, and the people facing him want liberation from him; it seemed to me (and still does) that it needn't require a bloody land-campaign gamble to protect the Libyan populace in the areas that have already liberated themselves.

Interestingly, everyone with access to a keyboard has an opinion,and many of them are topsy-turvy with frustration. Years from now, when someone with perspective and access to archival documentation tries to piece together what really happened, they'll also need to figure out who was decrying what and why. In the meantime, however, there are a number of immediate responses of interest. Take Phil Wiess, the Jewish antisemite of Mondoweiss: he admits he's confused like we all are, but he's in favor of the attempt. Of course, he intends to use the precedent to call for the UN to bomb Israel next time around, and doesn't even hide his excitement, but at least he's willing to save some Libyans on the road to deliver the Palestinians.

Not far from him on some issues, Andrew Sullivan is furious, furious furious. And also unhappy, and angry. In all his endless verbiage on the topic, he has this revealing nugget:
I watched the president stand idly by as countless young Iranians were slaughtered, imprisoned, tortured and bludgeoned by government thugs by day and night. I believed that this was born of a strategy that understood that, however horrifying it was to watch the Iranian bloodbath, it was too imprudent to launch military action to protect a defenseless people against snipers, murderers and torturers.
Morality, you see, is foremost about prudence. This, then, is the answer to Phil Weiss: the UN won't bomb Israel, not because it will accept it's right to defend itself, but simply because Israel would bomb back. (Which brings me back to my position that the only real defense in this world is to be armed, trained, and dangerous).

Silliest of all in this little roundup, we've got Juan Cole, issuing marching orders. He really is a gag.


Anonymous said...

Juan Cole must be totally nuts. "Countries opposed to or lukewarm toward the no-fly zone, but which are themselves democracies, such as India, Algeria and Russia, could be enlisted to meet with the officer corps in Tripoli and impress on them the need for a transition to parliamentary elections."

Russia a democracy?
What about Germany?

"It is worth noting, however, that nowhere else in the Arab world where there have been widespread protests has the regime consistently responded with such massive brutality as in Libya."

What about Syria's massacre in the 80s? Jordan's "Black September" in 1970?
Or Iran's violent oppression of the Green Revolution?


NormanF said...

Ya'acov, Israel has nuclear weapons.

As much the world hates Israel and would like to see it disappear, that can be done only through a war of mutual assured destruction.

They're not prepared to go that far for the foreseeable future.

Silke said...

I hope Israelis begin to think of storing their nuclear weapons as hard to bomb out of existence as Iranian building sites for them are said to be now.

A bit of history of the intricacies of fighting in Libya's geography

and a reminder of the text of the US Hymn of the Marines - may they be spared the ordeal -

To the shores of Tripoli

and according to Michael Oren it is the exact same Tripoli.

and Jeffrey Goldberg on the Arab League as a stand-by-your-side partner (Stars and Stripes had mentioned that Arab countries were to join but couldn't yet be named)

I think it was Der Spiegel who claims that "they" don't even know yet for sure who is in command for the operation. Stars and Stripes claimed it was the US but since France struck first, it might be NATO or whoever else wants to don the mantle of history.

And why did they name it aftr Odysseus - the guy took 20 years to complete his trip home after a useless war that had lasted 10 years

Anonymous said...

Not sure Libya is a "black and white" example and for sure the opposition to Gaddafi is not "pro-democracy". I would use that sentence for the government overthrown by Hizbollah in the first of these Arab Spring "revolutions".


Silke said...

I'm pretty sure I left a comment here with some interesting links that showed as taken, but now it is gone.

Here's a Daily Beast Headline from the Newsletter only - replace Libyan by Israeli and Gaddafi by Gaza - would they still use "pummel"?????

Libyan Airstrikes Pummel Gaddafi Compound

to this Peter Beinart piece

Bella said...

I wonder if Juan Cole's readers are digesting the numbers of civilians killed by Arab dictators and will therefore get a grip next time they catastrophize Israel's defensive actions. Oh wait, I thought I just saw a pig fly.

Y. Ben-David said...

Algeria and Russia are democracies. Really? Who isn't a democracy according to this guy?

Sylvia said...

"Phil Wiess, the Jewish antisemite of Mondoweiss: he admits he's confused like we all are, but he's in favor of the attempt."

It doesn't know why, but it is in favor.
It wouldn't know an etrog from a watermelon, but it wants to preside over the destinies of the Jews.
It doesn't know a word of Hebrew or Arabic but it knows what is good for Israelis and Palestinians and exactly how they think.

Well, we all are in favor, but unlike Weiss, for a myriad of clear, solid, educated reasons.

What should really really worry the Weisses of this world who make their living off the now triumphant Israel bashing industry - had they had one ounce of logic - is how much closer the Capitol has gotten to the Tarpeian Rock.
And vice-versa.

This is to say:
Funded artificial legitimization of Khaddafi is just like the funded artificial delegitimization of Israel. Both are shport-lived commodities.

Anonymous said...

Yaacov, as usual is spot on: position that the only real defense in this world is to be armed, trained, and dangerous.

More of this please.

Anonymous said...

Comment above by Asaf

Silke said...

and in case I haven't already linked to it here at Yaacov's Michael Walzer has a say on Libya

The Case Against Our Attack on Libya

Leon Wieseltier has a comment up at the TNR also but I stopped reading him ever since he stipulated that Shepherd's something had to be protected from "proletarian" Jews because of the Mufti's aristocratic legacy. (OK, I exaggerate but that's how I understood it and remember it )

Anonymous said...

ot: How do you respond

I regularly read (and link in the sidebar) an Israeli blog called Israel Matzav. The blogger, Carl in Jerusalem, is an Orthodox Jew who apparently lives over the "green line." He has been blogging a lot recently about the Fogel massacre, about which I've done a couple of posts here at Extra Thoughts.

The thing that as an American reader I find most frustrating about the coverage of this is the absence of any criminal justice approach to the evil. Carl has recently embedded a video, which I don't intend to watch and advise others to avoid, that contains and is headed by graphic pictures of the slain. (I'm deliberately not linking the blog from this particular post lest an unwary reader go, scroll down, and inadvertently see the picture heading the video.) Carl is trying to stir up appropriate outrage. With that I agree. But the proper response, the active and positive use of outrage, is to demand that evil men be brought to justice as individuals. Even though we in the rest of the world cannot personally do anything, we at least need to have something clearly appropriate, something a healthy mind rightly seeks, to say that others should do. Otherwise dwelling on horror becomes an end in itself, which is not healthy.

Victor said...

I hope Israelis begin to think of storing their nuclear weapons as hard to bomb out of existence as Iranian building sites for them are said to be now.

It's a redundant capacity. I'm not sure if it's a fully functioning nuclear triad - land based missiles, strategic bombers and submarine launched - because Israel's strategic bombing capacity leaves something to be desired, but it's close.

Silke said...

good to know

- at the latest since I heard Kouchner in that interview at the BBC I believe them without-borders utopianistic saviours of the universe eventually given the right circumstances, the right incentives and a messianic lunatic to preach the message capable of a lot.

The Weltbild is there already.

AKUS said...

Actually, I think Gaddafi is small potatoes compared to some of his best friends in the Arab world.

But the real point is that the next lot that replace him will spend their time doing to his lot what was done to them.

So then do we go in to get rid of them?

The lunacy, also, of saying they are not trying to kill Gaddafi when one bomb in the right place would do the job and end the show is incredible. It is also unbelievable given that they bombed his house, of course when he was not home. They should take him out and that's it.

I think I heard Wolfowitz on CNN pointing out that since we won;t have a no fly zone for 12 years over Libya, the next step is to send in ground forces - here we go again - and a woman on NPR explaining that British and American special forces are "advising" the rebels ... which I think is how we got dragged into Vietnam if memory serves ...

Yaacov said...

Anon - I responded on Lydia's blog.

Barry Meislin said...

I never thought I'd live to see the day, but it's certainly nice to see that Juan Cole has finally, finally been able to get in touch with his inner neo-con.

(It certainly took awhile, but one must assume that his pathological goofiness rendered him all but insensitive to his deepest feelings. Needless to say, it is fortunate for him---and for many others---that Israel has always been there when a healthy cathartic was necessary.)

Anonymous said...

Here in Australia the leftist Greens Party supports the intervention in Libya (formerly very opposed to the Iraq and Afghanistan intervention). It is indeed a topsy turvy world at the moment. As to Yaacov's last point, may Israel always be armed, trained and dangerous!


Silke said...

and now they must spare Ghadafi and his buddies because a TV-crew let itself getting taken hostage

As I understood it they followed his invitation despite the story of the Times-journalists kidnapped and then freed. That Ghadafi sure is a wily guy. I hope they remember how wily them guys can be next time Israel has to deal up-close with them. But of course no Palestinian would ever act in a manner as wily as Ghadafi. ;-(

But at the last minute Western journalists, including reporters from TV network CNN and agency Reuters, were spotted close to the battered, smouldering bunker.

Gaddafi's PR men had bussed them in just minutes earlier to film the damage.