Mike the Mad Biologist

Because that’s not been his MO so far. A long-time reader emailed and asked me why I haven’t commented on Libya. Well, it’s simple: as far as I can tell, the U.S. government has a long-standing policy of doing the opposite of what I want when it comes to matters of war and peace. Nonetheless, I really do hope our aimless Libyan ‘kinetic military action’ works out well–I really would like Juan Cole to be right.

But the problem is that I’m old enough to remember when the Libyan War was only supposed to be a no-fly zone. Then it morphed into bombing armor. And now we’re considering arming the rebels (even though we really don’t know who they are–because giving guns to strangers is friendly. Or something).

Since many people are bringing up the Iraq War (part deux, not the first), I will too. The reason I opposed that war from the outset was twofold:

1) The arguments supporting a biological and nuclear weapons were stupid. Physicists repeatedly debunked the notion that the tubes were being used for nuclear weapons manufacture. And I’ve worked with Bacillus and have had biohazard training. The biological evidence was ridiculous.

2) If Bush lied about budget issues (and he did, all the way back to the presidential campaign), then, of course he would lie about the reasons to go to war mischaracterize the evidence in favor of war. Lying had worked so well for Little Lord Pontchartrain, why would he stop? (Turns out I was right too).

So, if you’re on what passes for the Left, what of Obama’s actions to date convince you that, when it’s all said and done, you’ll get what you want?

The stimulus was too small and too tax cut rich. Healthcare reform gave us Romneycare–and the whole process was handled ineptly. He talks like a Republican regarding Social Security–and his minions are still leaving the door open on Social Security cuts. Days before the Deepwater Horizon catastrophe, he equated environmentalists with global warming denialists. By the way, how did the ‘brain’ trust of Geithner and Summers work out for you? Let’s not forget his reflexive Punching of Dirty Hippies in the Face either. And despite campaign promises to the contrary, we’re still in Iraq (and Obama never wanted to leave Afghanistan in the first place).

So why do you think going to war with him will be any different? The imaginary general in your head is not running this operation, Obama and his advisors are: we’re going to war with the president we have, not the one we wish we had. Obama will do what he wants done, not what you want done.

I hope I’m wrong, but a good outcome will happen only if Obama doesn’t play true to type.

I guess that’s called hope.

Comments

  1. #1 Physicalist
    March 28, 2011

    I’m on what passes for the left, so I guess I should answer:

    I have no reason to believe that Obama will do what I want done.

    I am inclined to think that things would be somewhat worse if a Republican were in office, but that’s about all I can say.

  2. #2 Matthew Platte
    March 28, 2011

    Oh but we *are* learning who some of the rebels are — experienced “terrists” from Iraq & Afghanistan.

  3. #3 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    I have a hard time comprehending why most of the “left” have no problem watching a dictator butcher his own people.

  4. #4 Rutee
    March 28, 2011

    Same reason the right is fine watching every other dictator murder their own people, Lotharloo. It’s not our business to be Team America: The World Police.

  5. #5 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    @Rutee

    Right, then perhaps it is time both of them stop the pretentious concern for the human rights.

  6. #6 DWhite
    March 28, 2011

    Lotharloo: I don’t know of any government including our own that would not use force against a rebellion.

  7. #7 Rutee
    March 28, 2011

    Right, then perhaps it is time both of them stop the pretentious concern for the human rights.

    No. It just means we don’t play World Police. we don’t use guns. There are in fact other options. Soft pressure, trade incentives, etc.

    Did you think Team America: World Police was an instruction manual?

  8. #8 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    @DWhite:

    And you see no difference between using tear gas and bullets? What kind of an idiotic equivalence is that? A dentist and boxer both use force but I’m pretty sure you don’t want a book an appointment with the latter.

    The whole situation is pretty sad. Many of the ‘left’ with whom I sympathize fail to see right course of action because of some silly ideology. I cannot count how many times a stupid comparison with the Iraq war has been brought up even though the two military actions could not be more different.

  9. #9 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    @Rutee:

    No. It just means we don’t play World Police. we don’t use guns. There are in fact other options. Soft pressure, trade incentives, etc.

    All of those options are basically you watching a dictator butcher his own people. You might as well add prayer to the list because that’s as effective as the solutions you just listed against a dictator like Ghaddafi.

    The weird thing is you allow interventions through other means but military action. This is the same silly ideology that I talk about. The right thing to do is to consider everything case by case rather than outlawing certain options.

    Did you think Team America: World Police was an instruction manual?

    As I just said, that obviously shows that for ideological reasons you cannot comprehend that we can analyze each case individually. Instead, you choose to declare the military action undesirable on all occasions.

  10. #10 Rutee
    March 28, 2011

    I cannot count how many times a stupid comparison with the Iraq war has been brought up even though the two military actions could not be more different.

    True; during the Iraq War it was less nakedly transparent that our aims were for our own national business interests to be secured.

  11. #11 Rutee
    March 28, 2011

    All of those options are basically you watching a dictator butcher his own people. You might as well add prayer to the list because that’s as effective as the solutions you just listed against a dictator like Ghaddafi.

    Which is why they’ve made China back off from N. Korea and Cuba ease up.

    As I just said, that obviously shows that for ideological reasons you cannot comprehend that we can analyze each case individually. Instead, you choose to declare the military action undesirable on all occasions.

    no, there’s always self defense.

    Knocking over other states is indeed categorically denied, however. Sorry, you’re going to have to provide evidence of it actually working out well.

  12. #12 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    @Rutee:

    Which is why they’ve made China back off from N. Korea and Cuba ease up.

    Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t. Iraq was under embargo for ages and it never weakened Saddam. Same with N. Korea. Iran’s case is a bit different. Cuba was different too. Not all dictators are carbon copies of each other. But the sad fact you seem to refuse to acknowledge is that those soft measures have been ineffective against someone like Kim Jong Il. It’s about time for you to admit it, because soon enough he will die naturally, after decades of happily oppressing his own people and living pretty well off them.

    Knocking over other states is indeed categorically denied, however. Sorry, you’re going to have to provide evidence of it actually working out well.

    Air assault on Lybia is not the same as knocking over another state. It is the use of force to prevent a dictator to slay his own people. Regardless of the outcome, the use of force is justified because it stops immediate bloodshed.

    You obviously live in a stable and peaceful society. That peace is maintained through force not just self-defense. There are practical reasons to desire a police force where you live (i.e., you don’t want someone take your stuff) but there are also moral reasons. You don’t want someone to be allowed to murder his own children even though it can’t possibly effect you (assuming you are an adult). I see no reason to not to extend the latter reason to other geographical regions. Of course for practical consideration, this latter form cannot always be enforced. In fact, most of the time we cannot hope to intervene and I am not advocating military action against N. Korea atm. But the lack of a practical solution in most cases does not mean that we should rule out the moral principle as well as the possibility of force being actually useful in some cases.

    In case of Lybia, the limited use of force has been effective and has stopped Ghaddafi from killing a whole bunch of people and running sham trials. It’s dishonest to not to acknowledge that.

  13. #13 Rutee
    March 28, 2011

    Sometimes they work, sometimes they don’t.

    Indeed. A Far cry from “IT NEVER WORKS!!!!!!1111oneoentwo”

    It’s about time for you to admit it,

    I don’t mind that, because it’s still not right to knock over every other country. Are you admit that /it’s not your fucking job to police the world/?

    In case of Lybia, the limited use of force has been effective and has stopped Ghaddafi from killing a whole bunch of people and running sham trials. It’s dishonest to not to acknowledge that.

    Is it as dishonest as refusing to acknowledge that our intervention is fueled by oil once more?

    We’re not done. Of course we could knock over Gadaffi, possibly even with limited civilian casualties. It’s effective when the Libyan people are free and happy with what happened.

  14. #14 Lotharloo
    March 28, 2011

    I don’t mind that, because it’s still not right to knock over every other country. Are you admit that /it’s not your fucking job to police the world/?

    As I tried to explain, there is a difference between policing the world and stopping war crimes. The former means intervention to stop censorship and oppression in addition to many other crimes but the latter means stopping war crimes such as genocide. I don’t have any problem with the latter whatsoever and the fact that ‘it is not my job’ is irrelevant. It is not your job to call the police when you witness a crime either. You’ll have to show that why it is wrong to intervene, because it is not a matter of whose job is it but rather a moral responsibility.

    Is it as dishonest as refusing to acknowledge that our intervention is fueled by oil once more?

    To be honest, I am not convinced that oil is the major issue here. Ghaddafi was already selling oil. This is unlike Iraq where all the oil was trapped away from Western markets (at least officially). To me, it seems the better way to guarantee the availability of the oil supplies was to side with Ghaddafi since he had almost won. The best way was probably to do nothing and watch and go with whichever side that emerges victorious and many help them a little bit here and there so that the country becomes stable as fast as possible. The victors had to sell oils ultimately anyway. With the intervention, the future of the country is much more uncertain and it might stay unstable longer which doesn’t make any sense at all from a business point of view.

    In fact, I am certain that many would be yelling “OIL!!!!!” if western forces had sided with Ghaddafi. I am not saying that oil is not involved. My point is I would need a far more convincing argument than “Lybia has oil” to convince me that the major reason for the military intervention was oil because the same reasoning can be used with regards to any action involving an oil-rich country.

  15. #15 Corey
    March 28, 2011

    Guys, if you are really buying the pathetically transparent “humanitarian bombs” excuse, I have some people recently murdered by their government to introduce you to in Yemen, Bahrain, and Cote d’Ivoire, among other places.

  16. #16 altın çilek
    March 29, 2011

    I am not saying that oil is not involved. My point is I would need a far more convincing argument than “Lybia has oil” to convince me that the major reason for the military intervention was oil because the same reasoning can be used with regards to any action involving an oil-rich country.

  17. #17 Dunc
    March 29, 2011

    And now we’re using the cover of a UN resolution aimed at “protecting civilians” to provide close air support to a bunch of guys firing crude, unguided “Katyusha” rockets off the backs of trucks into densely-populated civilian areas – you know, the exact thing we call Hamas “terrorists” for doing.

    What was that about “stopping war crimes” again?

  18. #18 Wow
    March 29, 2011

    ” ” Instead, you choose to declare the military action undesirable on all occasions.”

    no, there’s always self defense. ”

    Nope, it’s still undesirable.

    You may have to do it anyway, but it doesn’t make it desirable. Who likes eating rat? Nobody. But if you’re starving of hunger: not yummy, but you’ll cram it in anyway.

  19. #19 nichole
    March 29, 2011

    True; during the Iraq War it was less nakedly transparent that our aims were for our own national business interests to be secured.

    Really? I’d say equally so.

    But back to the OT: What do we lefties want done in Libya, anyways? Dictators: Ignore ‘em, trade sanction ‘em, or bomb the snot out of them? Crummy options. Wish there was a dictator vaccine…

  20. #20 altın çilek
    March 30, 2011

    I am not convinced that oil is the major issue here. Ghaddafi was already selling oil. This is unlike Iraq where all the oil was trapped away from Western markets (at least officially). To me, it seems the better way to guarantee the availability of the oil supplies was to side with Ghaddafi since he had almost won. The best way was probably to do nothing and watch and go with whichever side that emerges victorious and many help them a little bit here and there so that the country becomes stable as fast as possible. The victors had to sell oils ultimately anyway.

  21. #21 capsiplex
    April 3, 2011

    The weird thing is you allow interventions through other means but military action. This is the same silly ideology that I talk about. The right thing to do is to consider everything case by case rather than outlawing certain options.